The Challenge
of Food

the challenge of food

When it comes to food, humans are in a pickle. By 2050, we’ll need to double our food production in order to feed everyone. Science gives us potential solutions to this problem. Meeting the challenge of feeding the world’s population will require scientific thinking and progress… and more than that.

How to Use this Video

How will we feed the estimated 9 billion people that will be on the planet by 2050? How can food be distributed equally? We’ll hear about making more nutritious food via genetic engineering and we’ll also hear about how science can inform food policy.

Find the video below, as well as some of the important science senses it features relating to making back-of-the-envelope estimates, using appropriate sample size, and understanding when science can inform ethical decisions.

Have thoughts about the video? What resources or activities have you used to teach this topic in your class? We’d love to know – share your voice by sending us a message below 🙂


Science Senses Featured in this Video

Number sense

Having a sense of scale

Making back of the envelope estimates

Data sense

Recognizing bias

Using appropriate sample size

Knowledge sense

Applying scientific knowledge

Understanding when science can inform ethical decisions

Being reasonably skeptical

Activities & Lesson Plans

Food estimates – create back of the envelope questions for students to do based on food consumption (as seen in the video); or, better yet, have students come up with these themselves and pass them to their neighbors (NS – having a sense of scale, making back of the envelope estimates).

GMO Evidence – have students find the scientific studies that address safety issues with GMO. What does the scientific evidence have to say about GMO in our food supply? (KS – Making evidence-based arguments, communicating science).

Science and Policy Discussion – how can science inform the food distribution policies and GMO-related questions that are in the news today? Which questions can be answered by science and which questions can be informed by scientific findings? (KS – Understanding when science can inform ethical decisions, applying scientific knowledge, asking scientific questions).

GMO Debate – have students prepare arguments for and against the use of GMO in our food supply and assign them one position or the other in class. (KS – Understanding when science can inform ethical decisions, applying scientific knowledge, asking scientific questions).


Freedman, DH. 2013. Are engineered foods evil? Scientific American. Pgs. 80-85.

Godfray et al. 2010. The challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science. 327(5967): 812-818.

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