Alberta farmer

global_post_logoTom Abate covers the technology sector for GlobalPost, where this article first appeared. Any views expressed are his own.

It seems like a science fiction novel: Near-starvation of much of the world’s population results in the development of patented seeds and widespread livestock cloning.

But that scenario is not pure speculation. Rather it is a possible future envisioned by analysts for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in a new report titled “The Bioeconomy of 2030.”

The report, which extrapolates current trends into the year 2030, deals with every aspect of biotechnology from medicines to plant-based chemicals, and projects their impacts on the world economy. It raises the fictional starvation scenario to prod the public and policymakers into considering biotech agriculture in a new light.

“Two consecutive years of extreme drought and high temperatures in the major grain growing regions of the world between 2016 and 2017 … caused an explosion in food prices,” says the report published last month. “The ‘Malthusian years’, as they were quickly called by journalists, fueled further investment in agricultural biotechnology.”