On March 4, 2010 CBI attended The Atlantic Food Summit, an event featuring food and agriculture experts in Washington, DC. The event was held at the Newseum and had over 300 attendees, representing all voices on the food chain, from farmers to processors, to consumers to regulators. The first panel discussion was titled “Feeding the World” and featured Sen. Tom Daschle, Dr. Hafez Ghanem, Assistant Director-General of the UNFAO and Josh Viertel, President, Slow Food USA. The panel was moderated by James Gibney, Deputy Managing Editor of The Atlantic.
While the panelists had different viewpoints regarding the best ways to feed a growing world, they all agreed upon a few principles, including the need to do something to combat hunger and help feed the one billion people who are undernourished or malnourished today. Sen. Daschle believes global hunger can be eradicated by focusing our development efforts on innovation, competition, collaboration and the empowerment of farmers. He sees development as key to the future of agriculture, specifically technological development. Sen. Daschle believes that “we need to embrace science-based solutions aggressively” in order to find ways to feed a growing population.
Dr. Ghanem is also troubled by the number of people worldwide who go hungry every day, and believes that our current food system is not sustainable. With regard to crop biotechnology, he believes that the science has been used successfully in some developing countries so it does not make sense to exclude options that can help feed the world. Conversely, Josh Viertel did not agree that seeds developed by private industry for profit that produce higher yields should be shared with developing farmers.
It was a robust discussion and touched on many of the most debated issues in food and agriculture, including biotech crops, farm subsidies, world hunger and obesity. The panelists all agreed that it was promising to see so many people and governments focusing on ways to eradicate hunger and feed a growing population.