Geoff Tansey unravels the rhetoric at a food security conference at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House – Published on Global Food Security.ac.uk Blog, by Geoff Tansey, Feb 18, 2013.
The meeting in London on 10-11 December 2012 was held under the Chatham House Rule, which forbids identification of speakers, so you may find this a rather frustrating blog.
One speaker asked participants the key question: why was the meeting talking about the sustainable intensification of agricultural production,
- when the world already produces enough for everyone;
- when one third of all food produced ends up as waste;
- when an estimated 40% of corn in the US in 2013 is going to biofuel;
- and up to 90% of soya produced globally is used for animals not humans?
- And why produce more food when 1.4 billion people are overweight? … //
… Summing up:
I wonder increasingly about the value of this kind of set piece discussion. Can a few questions and answers from the floor be a good way of taking us forward to actually address the real problems? Instead, more often than not they seem a way of allowing the powers that be to structure the debate, merely tipping their hats to people with perhaps different views from the mainstream.
On a more positive note, there were many inspiring practical examples of changes being wrought by rural peoples in different places around the world that improve their lives and livelihoods and yields.
I’m left convinced that there is a clear challenge to rethink the way we spend our research and development money; the way the public and private sector needs to support small farmer innovation and improvements of their livelihoods and yields and tackle the systemic issues. Will conferences like this make this more likely? Hard to tell. But to be judged successful, they need to.
I was there as a trustee of the Food Ethics Council, which published some of our materials including the special issue of the Council’s magazine on Sustainable intensification: unravelling the rhetoric.
We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People – and Still Can’t End Hunger, on Huffington Post, by Eric Holt Gimenez, May 2, 2012;
Food security and agricultural development in times of high commodity prices, by Michael Herrmann, on UNCTAD (UNCTAD/OSG/DP/2009/4), November 2009, 33 pdf pages;
Chapter 2: Safeguarding food security in volatile global markets, by Adam Prakash, on FAO, 2011, ISBN 978-92-5-106803-8;
Book: Primary Commodity Prices and Global Food Security, on Lulu.