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Research article2014Peer reviewedOpen access

Future threats to agricultural food production posed by environmental degradation, climate change, and animal and plant diseases – a risk analysis in three economic and climate settings

Sundstrom, Jens F.; Albihn, Ann; Boqvist, Sofia; Ljungvall, Karl; Marstorp, Hakan; Martiin, Carin; Nyberg, Karin; Vagsholm, Ivar; Yuen, Jonathan; Magnusson, Ulf


Global food security is one of the most pressing issues for humanity, and agricultural production is critical for achieving this. The existing analyses of specific threats to agricultural food production seldom bring out the contrasts associated with different levels of economic development and different climatic zones. We therefore investigated the same biophysical threats in three modelled types of countries with different economic and climatic conditions. The threats analysed were environmental degradation, climate change and diseases and pests of animals and plants. These threats were analysed with a methodology enabling the associated risks to be compared. The timeframe was 2012-2050 and the analysis was based on three underlying assumptions for 2050: the world population will have increased to 9 billion people, there will be a larger middle class in the world and climate change will be causing more extreme weather events, higher temperatures and altered precipitation. It is suggested that the risks, presented by the biophysical threats analysed, differ among the three modelled types of countries and that climate zone, public stewardship and economic strength are major determinants of these differences. These determinants are far from evenly spread among the world's major food producers, which implies that diversification of risk monitoring and international assessment of agricultural production is critical for assuring global food security in 2050.


Agriculture; Food security; Risks; Environmental degradation; Climate change; Pests and diseases

Published in

Food Security
2014, Volume: 6, number: 2, pages: 201-215