World Food Forum

Bioenergy development and food security can be simultaneously improved, contrary to the popular belief that biofuels displace food crops, according to a report released by an international, multidisciplinary team of experts from 10 institutions, with prof. dr. Joy Clancy of the University of Twente as one of the co-authors.
“Reconciling Food Security and Bioenergy: Priorities for Action” identifies science-based steps to ensure that biofuels, food crops and natural resources can be managed sustainably together. The report, published in the journal Global Change Biology – Bioenergy, was coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
The recommendations include increasing production of “flex-crops” that can provide fuel, food and other services; working with local populations to assure benefits target the right people; diversifying crops, land cover, and product markets to increase resilience against external forces; and ongoing education and analysis., 21 June 2016 –
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Hugo De VriesHugo de Vries, Director of UMR IATE – Unité Mixte de Recherches Ingénierie des Agro-polymères et Technologies Émergentes, INRA & CIRAD

What are we doing to promote sustainable agriculture in the developing countries?
As far as sustainable agriculture is concerned, the European Union has a constant attention for the emerging countries. We see it back in bilateral projects, for example with India and China. We see it back in projects all around the Mediterranean area, with the North African countries. And we also see it back in general for specific topics addressing sustainable agriculture in Africa.

How can the European Union further support this process?
The question for me is back to the Commission and is: would it be wise to regroup activities in a kind of forum with the emerging countries and to do it not only in a kind of project forum, but also a kind of program forum where we follow the impact of our projects and where we are able to monitor in an objective way what we have realized and what we have set? I’m thinking about a kind of Governing Council which could be potentially related to the World Food Research and Innovation Forum, involving not only the European Commission but also the emerging countries in a kind of co-construction. If we do that, I think we can have much more impact on the development than we currently are.

With a shared border that is more than 5,500 miles long, Canada and the United States have a lot in common, including a shared food supply. So it is no surprise that Canadian food safety agencies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have signed a “systems recognition arrangement” to mark an important new food safety partnership. Systems recognition not only allows FDA to better plan its oversight of high risk foods. It also increases its reliance on regulators in other parts of the world that have demonstrated they provide a similar system of food safety protection.

Moreover, it marks a high degree of trust in participating countries’ abilities to both prevent and respond to food-related outbreaks and contamination events.
Systems recognition is intended to facilitate discussions that lead to a continuous improvement process for regulators on both sides of the border. As the respective food safety systems, regulatory frameworks, programs and oversight continue to improve, consumers on both sides of the border will have benefit from this arrangement.

Food Safety News, 5 June 2016 –
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Sanjaya RajaramSaniaya Rajaram – President of Resource Seeds International and 2014 World Food Prize Laureate


What are the main challenges we have to face to feed the planet?
Global population is rising: currently it is 7.3 billion and by 2050 it is expected to be around 9 billion people. At the same time we are facing climate change, water decline and other issues such as the one reguarding soil fertility. These are very strong elements which affect the food production of the world. The best way to take care of this all would be a population decrease, but we all know that this is not going to happen.

So we have to enhance agriculture productivity and, at the same time, profitability of that production. In order to do that, we have first of all to seek the newer technologies in all branches of agricultural science: not only in genetics and biotechnology, but also in industrial chemistry, in the insect control, in desease control, in microbial flora manipulation. That’s how we can enhance the capacity of agriculture to beat climate change.

How can technologies help us to meet these challenges?
In agricultural terms climate change basically means flooding, drought, high temperatures, freezing and much more. With the newer technologies which are emerging we can contain the effects of these calamities both in organic and in modern agriculture. An efficiency oriented technology application is going to be very important, but we also have to be aware that there are many other aspects to consider. We have to look at the part of the economics, we have to look at the soil fertility, we have to look at the water use efficiency, we have to look at the nutrients, but if we achieve production efficiency we can cope with the demands of the future in spite of climate change.

Colombia will deploy responsible land tenure principles to secure the rights of indigenous communities living in protected natural areas, buoyed by support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the European Union.The initiative aims to contribute to biodiversity conservation, the safeguarding of cultural legacies and to help build peace in the wake of a 50-year civil war. Both institutions will support the government of Colombia in designing strategies to promote the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security a blueprint FAO drafted to help governments protect the rights of people to ownership of or access to their traditional lands, forests and fishing areas. The three-year, million euro agreement was signed by Ana Paula Zacarías, the EU’s ambassador to Colombia, and Rafael Zavala, FAO’s Country Representative here, during a visit to the country by Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The project also aims to slow deforestation trends, govern land-use changes and help resolve disputes over how land and natural resources are exploited.

26 May 2016, Reliefweb –
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ValentiniRiccardo Valentini – IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and BCFN – Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation

The Paris Agreement was signed by more than 180 countries, including China and India. Is it an historic turning point or just a fragile compromise?

The Paris Agreement has still to be written and implemented: at the moment objectives traced by the different countries are still inadequate to restrain global warming to 2 degrees. Moreover, the agreement might even call for a bigger effort to restrain global warming to 1.5 degrees, since there are plenty of areas which would have huge problems even with that temperature level.

Nevertheless, the agreement actually represents a turning point, since for the first time 186 countries agreed to cooperate on the same level. The Kyoto Protocol, in fact, made distinction between polluting countries and countries which were subjected to pollution. This time everybody agreed that we all are in the same boat, including China and India. And even if every country has the right to fix its own targets, there will be a strict quinquennial control on the achievements.


What kind of agriculture can we imagine for the world’s future?

First of all we have to remember that the Italian agriculture is already consistent with the need to promote a quality, sustainable and environment-friendly agriculture. Agriculture in the future well be oriented to minimizing the exploitation of resources.

Just think about precision farming, which minimizes the use of fertilizers, about drip irrigation systems, which allow us to have an efficient use of water, or about the possibility of modifying animals’ diet to cut methane emissions.

Research and innovation can make agriculture a positive factor in absorbing pollution. In order to make this happen it is crucial to improve the transfer of technologies from research centers to farms. Unfortunately, this transfer is at the moment non existent.

That’s why we should help enterprises, in particular small and medium ones. And that’s why we have to find out how to use young graduates as a linkage between universities and farms.


What role can the food industry play in this process?

Food industry has plenty of innovative targets. In rich countries it has to work to reduce food waste along the supply chain, both for its own and for the world’s benefit.

In developing countries it has to address food loss caused by inadequate food transformation chains. In tropical countries, for instance, 40% of food is lost in the transfer from field to city markets because of the lacks in technology and controls. Italian agriculture can teach a lot worldwide on how to reduce food waste through the shortening of supply chains.


9 – 10 May, 2016

Seventeen mango farmers in Mandalay Region have applied for a certification that would show they are abiding by prominent safety standards. Mango farmers only became eligible for good agricultural practice (GAP) certification this year.
The certificate shows buyers that “fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimise risks of microbial food safety hazards”, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Those wishing to apply to become certified must do so through the Department of Agriculture.
Inspectors from the department will check the quality of planting soil and water and investigate for minerals harmful to humans before bestowing GAP certification on fruit products. The inspectors will also see if applicants’ handling and packing procedures are up to snuff under GAP standards. The GAP certificate provides consumers proof they won’t be harmed if they eat one of the approved products.
Myanmar Times, 17 May 2016 –

Livia PomodoroLivia Pomodoro – President of the Milan Center for Food Law and Policy

Expo Milano 2015 has put access to food and food production in the spotlight. What are the most critical regions in the world at the moment as far as hunger and undernourishment are concerned?

While the international community has been trying to eradicate hunger for a long  time, interventions to address malnutrition are quite recent. Hunger is simply the body’s response to lack of food. Malnutrition requires a more comprehensive reaction: you have to grant access to adequate quantities of healthy and quality food, and make sure that people have a balanced diet, rich in essential vitamins and nutrients.

At the moment in the world there are some 795 million people who have not enough to eat: their number is down from over one billion in 1990. That’s about one in nine people on earth. Most of these people live in developing countries, where 12,9 percent of the population is undernourished.

Asia is the continent with the most hungry people, two thirds of the total. The percentage in southern Asia has fallen in recent years but in western Asia it has increased slightly. Sub-Saharan Africa is, on the contrary, the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger.

In some areas the number of heavily undernourished people has even raised in the last years, from 10 to 13 million. In the past 20 years severe undernourishment diminished only by 11 percent, while cronic undernourishment dropped by 36%.


Access to food, to land, to education. What are the active actions in developing countries? Are Western countries doing enough?

The Milan Center for Food Law and policy was born with the very task to rebuild through legal language the food and nutrition worlds. Its motto is indeed “there is no food without rights”.

From food chain to the most controversial land grabbing, from the ownership of seeds to the crucial role of women which are deprived of land ownership and made invisible slaves in many regions of the world, there is a general urgency for rights and for a new regulation.

Just think about labelling, with the right consumers’ demands, or about the big single-brand plantations in countries which have not an adequate ownership regime, or about the fundamental right of access to food. All these issues need new and better answers in order to grant people’s rights, since laws written after World War Two are leaving step by step field to multinational corporations, which act as if they were the “lords of the market”.

Nearly a decade after a spike in global food prices sent shockwaves around the world, Asia’s top rice producers are suffering from a blistering drought that threatens to cut output and boost prices of a staple for half the world’s population. World rice production is expected to decline for the first time this year since 2010, as failing rains linked to an El Nino weather pattern cut crop yields in Asia’s rice bowl.
A heat wave is sweeping top rice exporter India, while the No.2 supplier Thailand is facing a second year of drought. Swathes of farmland in Vietnam, the third-biggest supplier, are also parched as irrigation fed by the Mekong river runs dry. The three account for more than 60 percent of the global rice trade of about 43 million tonnes.
Rice inventories in the three top exporters are set to fall by about a third at the end of 2016 to 19 million tonnes, the biggest year-on-year drop since 2003, according to Reuters calculations based on U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
While currently far below 2008 highs, rice earlier this month hit $389.50, the strongest since July and up 13 percent from an eight-year low of $344 in September.
Reuters, 1 May