Feeding 11 billion people and preventing infectious disease – is it possible?

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src: mnn.com

With an overbearing population of 11 billion in the world, it is definitely become hard for people to keep up with the feeding, sustenance and even the prevention of the infection disease that are lingering around. It isn’t technically a seamless and feasible task to do owing to the kind of impacts that the same is set to bring forth.

A new study (R) conducted by the researchers from the University Of Notre Dame suggested saying that the constant rise in the world population paired with the constant need to feed them will inadvertently give rise to the rate of infectious diseases in the world. They named it as the ‘two of the most formidable ecological and public health challenges of the 21st century.’

In the coming 80 years, the overall population around the world is expected to exceed the 11 billion mark which is expected to induce a rise in the global food demand, imposing an unavoidable challenge to both the food production as well as the challenges faced around.

In one of the recently published studies in Nature Sustainability, it suggests that the constant rise in population along with the need to feed everyone is also going to result in the rise of the spreading of the infectious diseases around as well. This study is the first binding connection to the growing population along with the agricultural development and the risks of the infectious diseases.

Jason Rohr, the Ludmilla F., Stephen J. and Robert T. Galla College Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, who co-authored the study suggested saying that knowing the extent of the population growth along with the rate of spread of infectious diseases in the coming years would help in preparing the mitigation steps altogether.

The authors believe that it is important to imbibe our focus and anticipate the problems that are likely to arise with the overwhelming growth in the human population in the coming years.

If the reports from the article are to be believed, it is suggested that the major impacts of population growth by 2100 is going to majorly affect the developing countries where the problems with disease control, access to health care and the accessory surveillance of the same is majorly flawed and affected already.

75% of the deaths in some of the developing countries is because of the infectious diseases. It is thus, not surprising that the same can multiply and affect the masses when the rate of population increases in the coming years.

Statistics suggest that 48 million of the citizens in the United States do suffer from not just the foodborne infections but also illnesses and the same is because of the imported foods from some of the developing nations where the degree of sanitation as well the hygiene around is a questionable remark. Out of those 48 million affected, 128,000 people have been found the need to be hospitalized and 3000 US citizens die because of the foodborne infections and illnesses.

It isn’t just the rise in the population but the state of the rural economies along with the persistent usage of agrochemicals as well as the constant exploitation of the natural resources which could be a contributing factor to the problem all the more.

Further throwing some light on the subject, Rohr suggested that the high human contact with the farm animals and the wild game could further be a contributing factor to this condition and the rising rate of pandemics that will end up affecting such a large section of the population around in India.

Through this research, Rohr has been working to establish the relationship in how the farming practices can impose the risks of diseases owing to the fact that the snails live in the water which is contaminated by the runoff water from the fertilizers.

There are predators for the snails too, the prawns which then end up migrating to the estuaries to breed but then these estuaries do become unreachable because of the obstructions caused by the dams. These are what help boost the process of irrigation of the cropland even more so.

Owing to the findings of the study, Rohr and all the collaborators on the study do offer a number of subjective mitigation strategies for the same, ranging from the improvement of the hygiene and also the reduced use of the fertilizers to promote better agricultural and farming health. Apart from that, they also do suggest adding in genetic variability to the crops as well as the animals for the reduction of the epidemics which is the result of the varying monoculture.

Other steps involved in better mitigation do include better education and literacy and better awareness surrounding the same. These are one of the major factors that have been concurred as the medium for eradication of the condition all the more.

Apart from the basic awareness, the researchers also highlight the importance of the mathematical models in keeping the rate of infectious disease and the causes in check. These are believed to integrate the associations with the models and the forecast in check, thus focusing on the primary factors of mitigation to find better thoughts and impacts.

The research associated with the growing population, epidemic and the infectious diseases was funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with grants from the University of California, Stanford Global Development and Poverty Initiative and the University of Minnesota.