Corn Commentary

Increasing Productivity to Feed the World

Several speakers at the World Food Prize symposium this week in Des Moines were from the major agricultural chemical companies, including Monsanto, Syngenta and Pioneer.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International president Paul Schickler was on a panel that focused on the “Promises and Challenges of Next-Generation Science and Technology.” He took the first question to the panel, which was “How optimistic are you that the world can reduce hunger by half by 2015?”

Schickler stated that he was very confident that goal could be reached, simply on the basis of increased food production, using hybrid corn as an example. “If you look back throughout the development of hybrid corn, productivity has improved at about one and a half percent per year,” he said. “As we look to the future, we think we can double that, and that has already started to show up in the last 8-10 years through the use of biotechnology, plant genetics and improved agronomic practices.” That would mean corn yields in the United States could hit 210 bushels an acre in ten years, and what that means is increased sustainability because more food can be produced on less acreage.

Listen to Paul’s answer to that question here: