5 QUESTIONS FOR BIRGIT WILHELM: IS THE FUTURE VEGETARIAN?
There are currently 7.323.187.457 people (as of: January 19, 2017, 15:07) living on Earth. Every second, this number grows by 2.6 new citizens. In 2050, there are likely to be nine billion people who populate the planet. How we can manage to provide these people with food, what has to change and why it affects all of us - WWF agricultural expert Birgit Wilhelm explains in an interview.
1. How exactly are we supposed to feed nine billion people?
Opinions on this vary widely. There are studies that come to the conclusion that food production must increase drastically in order to provide food for so many people. However, it is ignored that agriculture - with its one-sided concentration on production maximization - already contributes to the fact that we lose fertile farmland every day for production. We exploit our basis of life, the soil itself. Only by means of a sustainable method of utilization and agriculture which restores the conservation of natural soil fertility will we be able to feed nine billion people. In addition, we from the WWF were able to show with the study "How to feed the world's growing billions" that there are other important starting points besides the increase in production to feed the world.
2. How can the hunger crisis be overcome?
We have to work smarter, more equitably, and with less waste. The basic problem for hunger in the world is not a lack of food. The basic problem is the injustice of poverty. Nearly half of the people who are hungry are small farmers. This poverty must be tackled first. Secondly, the waste of food has to be prevented. This does not merely refer to the fact that we as citizens of industrialized nations simply throw away food. In processing and transport, too, up to one-fifth of the food is lost, because the infrastructure does not work or even because of inefficient work. And thirdly, it is above all we ourselves who have a duty: Our consumption patterns must change drastically.
3. What exactly is wrong with our current behavior?
We have to reduce the consumption of meat. The production of meat requires enormous amounts of food. In addition, it strains the soils and destroys the environment. I do not want strict vegetarianism, but rather a conscious handling of the meat consumed.
We have to work smarter, more equitably, and with less wasting
4. Will there be more vegetarians in the future?
Personally, I believe that there will. Apparently, more and more people are becoming aware that meat production from industrial corporate farming leads directly to destruction of the environment pollution and injustice. In addition, I believe that many people who are aware of a healthy diet realize that they do not need so much meat. Many even feel better when they eat less often, but higher quality meat. However, this issue is very emotional. To blame someone for their eating habits is already a strong invasion of privacy.
5. Is there anything positive and hopeful about it?
Absolutely. I as a farmer find it very positive that food is being talked about more, and above all, where it comes from and how it is produced. By centralizing production and distribution, such as through supermarkets, the problems have been greatly resolved. How should I develop a relationship with food when shopping? How does healthy soil perform and feel? I am enthusiastic about the many home garden initiatives - even in the big city of Berlin. It is a wonderful feeling of success to harvest your own vegetables, which at the same time increases your appreciation of the food and the soil that allows everything to grow. Nutrition is being absorbed into everyday life, people are starting to think about what they eat. That makes me very hopeful.