The world's food production is in jeopardy because the fertile layer of soil that people depend on to plant crops is being eroded by human activities, scientists said Wednesday.

Climate change is likely to make it worse even as demand from a growing population is soaring, they said.

Soil erosion happens naturally, but intensive agriculture, deforestation, mining and urban sprawl accelerate it and can reduce crop yields by up to 50 percent, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.