Global food policies and politics are major impediments to producing enough food to feed the world’s growing population, according to Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Cornell University.

“We’ve got lots of food in the world,” Pinstrup-Andersen says. “The problem is inappropriate policies, not food supply.”

Pinstrup-Andersen made those observations during a Heuermann Lecture this week at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Professor Pinstrup-Andersen is the 2001 World Food Prize Laureate and the recipient of several awards for teaching, research and education.

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that global food demand will increase by about 70 percent during the next 40 years. “Such growth is achievable and, although international food prices are likely to continue to be volatile, I do not believe the world will experience an increasing trend in real food prices in the foreseeable future,” Pinstrup-Andersen says.

Specifically, he notes that food prices have fluctuated dramatically since 2007, and that many experts predicted, incorrectly, the end of inexpensive food. A major problem, he says, is that an estimated 2.9 quadrillion (12 zeros) pounds of food are lost every year throughout the distribution system. That amount would feed the 2 billion people expected to be added to the population. Although it is unrealistic to expect to capture that entire loss, some of it could be saved through better policies and management.