In November, CBI blogged about the Leonardo Academy’s search for applicants to fill seven vacant seats on its National Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee, which aims to establish a common set of economic, environmental and social metrics by which to determine whether an agricultural crop has been produced in a sustainable manner. The committee announced that is has filled these open seats. The new committee members include representatives from the National Cotton Council and the Soil and Water Conservation Society.
You can read more about the committee and learn about the backgrounds of its newest members here.
This and related challenges will be discussed on Friday, February 12th, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern, at The Newseum in Washington, D.C., leading agricultural experts host an international discussion on how to address challenges farmers and nations will face in the next century. Panelists will comment on Dr. Borlaug’s last published statement – featured in a new Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) report, which is available for free download here.
Panelists include: Robert Paarlberg, Professor at Wellesley College and author of Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa; Nina Fedoroff, Science and Technology Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State and to the Administrator of USAID, author of Mendel in the Kitchen; Mark Cantley, former head of the European Commission’s “Concertation Unit for Biotechnology in Europe” and of OECD’s Biotechnology Unit; Calestous Juma, Pew award winner and Professor of Practice at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government; Gale Buchanan, lead author of the CAST report and former USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.
Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman and head of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes about the importance of achieving both agricultural productivity and sustainability. As head of the largest foundation in the world, Mr. Gates has made a $1.4 billion commitment to small farmers for reducing global hunger through approaches that include agricultural technology.
Mr. Gates writes, “I have seen proof that agricultural science can make people’s lives better” and points to advances like the Swarna-sub1 Rice, a seed variety that can survive underwater for more than two weeks and help farmers in places that are prone to floods. According to Bill Gates, the next “Green Revolution” must help feed a billion people using modern technology in a sustainable manner.
The University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment produced an excellent video that asks the big question “how will we feed a growing population without destroying the planet?” The video shares some sobering facts that underline the enormity of the challenges before us, but also provides solutions and ideas on ways to improve agricultural productivity.
UMN Institute on the Environment Director Jonathan Foley wrote a piece that corresponds with the video and discusses “the other” inconvenient truth: “a global crisis in land use and agriculture that could undermine the health, security and sustainability of our civilization.”
You can watch the video below and also find it on the Institute’s site. You can read Mr. Foley’s piece here.
Joel Kotkin of Forbes Magazine discusses the troubling “assault on mainstream farmers” that is slowly manifesting itself in policies that result in “cutoffs on water…and a growing movement to ban the use of genetic engineering in crops” at a time when the world population is multiplying rapidly. He reminds his readers that agriculture’s impact extends further than many assume, and a threat to mainstream agriculture and scientifically run farms will hurt the U.S. economy by adversely affecting growth in other sectors, including food processing, marketing, shipping and supermarkets.
According to Mr. Kotkin, a realist approach must guide our food policy because “scientifically advanced farming still produces the majority of the average family’s foodstuffs, as well as the bulk of our exports,” whereas “organic foods and beverages account for less than 3% of all food sales in the U.S.” He believes that this approach will help us feed the world while growing our economy and saving American jobs.