Food Security

Food Security

By 2050, the world’s population is estimated to reach 9 billion people. How can we produce enough food to sustain them without irreversibly depleting our lands and waters? To find answers, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment supports the Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE). The center’s interdisciplinary scholars are addressing critical issues of hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. These experts focus on water resources, tropical oil crops, data science for food security, nutrition and health, aquaculture, climate and agriculture, crop and livestock systems and rural education. Their research generates vital knowledge and policy-relevant solutions to pressing food and environment challenges around the globe.


Finding Climate Solutions

The research of David Lobell, William Wrigley Senior Fellow at Woods and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, focuses on climate adaptation solutions to increase and protect food security. Temperature increases, shifting rainfall patterns, extreme weather and other realities of climate change effect crops differently. Finding pathways to adaptation is paramount. Lobell, an associate professor at the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth), joined other researchers in a call for a new field research network in the U.S. Midwest that could provide experimental facilities and access to farm settings needed to test adaptation and mitigation strategies. Read more.

Understanding Food Security

William Wrigley Professor Rosamond Naylor (Stanford Earth) gave the opening plenary lecture at the Second International Conference on Global Food Security. She discussed the two most rapidly expanding sectors of the world food economy – aquaculture and tropical oil crops – and their effects on nutrition, the environment and global food security. Naylor’s research paper, “Oil crops, aquaculture, and the rising role of demand: A fresh perspective on food security,” was published in the journal Global Food Security. Read more.

Toward Sustainable Palm Oil

FSE work focuses on the large palm oil industry in Southeast Asia, and on the rapidly growing industry in West Africa. Stanford faculty, students and researchers are helping find solutions to the environmental, economic and social impacts of palm oil. FSE runs a major sustainable palm oil research project in Indonesia, Ghana and Cameroon in collaboration with the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Derek Byerlee, a visiting FSE scholar, Walter Falcon, the Helen C. Farnsworth Professor of International Agricultural Policy, Emeritus, and Woods Senior Fellow Rosamond Naylor co-authored a book providing a broad synthesis of the major supply and demand drivers of the rapid expansion of oil crops in the tropics; its economic, social, and environmental impacts; and the future outlook to 2050. Read more.

Ensuring Sustainable Seafood

FSE research scholar Ling Cao was named a member of the supervisory board of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), a Netherlands-based nonprofit organization providing certification and labeling for responsibly farmed seafood. As a board member, Cao will promote more sustainable fish farming and responsible aquaculture practices to reduce negative social and environmental impacts. Cao plays a principal role in FSE research on aquaculture and fisheries management in China. Read more.

Tracking Crop Yields from Space

FSE Deputy Director David Lobell co-authored a study to estimate crop yields with more accuracy by using satellites to measure solar-induced fluorescence, a light emitted by growing plants. This result will help shape understanding of how crops react to a changing climate. Read more and watch video.

Farming Solar

Woods Senior Fellows and Stanford Earth professors Chris Field (Biology) and David Lobell co-authored an analysis that revealed that solar infrastructure can be located in agricultural areas in a way that maximizes land and water-use efficiency, while providing opportunities for rural electrification and economic growth. Read more.

On Camera

Research Spotlight: The push for sustainable oil palm in Indonesia

Stanford consulting professor Jim Leape, former head of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), works with farmers, conservationists, community groups, governments and big companies to chart a path for the Indonesian oil palm sector that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. Learn more about Stanford's work on oil palm at

Food Security & Nutrition in an Age of Conflict & Climate Change

Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, visited Stanford University on November 20, 2015 to speak about "Food Security and Nutrition in an Era of Conflict and Climate Change." Ms. Cousin's lecture was part of the Food and Nutrition Policy Symposium Series sponsored by Stanford University's Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE). FSE director Rosamond Naylor introduced Ms. Cousin and moderated a Q&A with the audience.

In The News

Meet the Moringa Tree, An Overqualified, Underachieving Superfood

Quotes Senior Fellow David Lobell (Earth System Science)
June 27, 2016 - By Amanda Little, The New Yorker

Read More

Monsanto Pledges to be Carbon Neutral by 2021

Senior Fellow David Lobell (Earth System Science) comments on the importance of corporate commitments to carbon neutrality
December 1, 2015 - By Jim Salter, AP via US News & World Report

Read More

Satellite Data Has Important Role in Crop Yield Research

Covers new paper co-authored by Woods Senior Fellows David Lobell (Earth System Science) on using satellites to measure crop yields from space.
November 12, 2015 - By , Farm Futures

Read More

The Next Food Revolution: Fish Farming?

Quotes Woods-affiliated postdoctoral scholar Ling Cao (Center on Food Security and the Environment) on how China's aquaculture sector...
October 25, 2015 - By Michael Holtz, Christian Science Monitor

Read More

Top Tweets