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© The Authors 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. The provision of food has been a central preoccupation of policy-makers throughout history. Today we are witnessing a period of food security pessimism triggered by increases in food prices, and their higher volatility, that began in 2008. However, previous episodes of food pessimism were ended by the Industrial and Green Revolutions, and policy-makers legitimately ask whether human ingenuity and technical advances will address today's worries without the need for their intervention. Here we explore some of the ways natural and social scientists have attempted to explore the supply and demand for food in the future to help policy-makers understand the challenges ahead. We are particularly struck that different communities have approached this problem in different ways that seldom reference each other. We describe two broad approaches: statistical extrapolation and economic simulation models of the food system that incorporate market mechanisms. We compare the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches and make some tentative suggestions about how they can together address important policy priorities.

Original publication




Journal article


Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Publication Date





26 - 44