Sept. 10, 2013

Experts to focus on food security in a vulnerable world

By 2050, 2 billion more people are expected to be vying for food and energy. Access to fresh water and arable land will be heavily constrained. And the food supply for the world’s 9 billion people will be increasingly produced under flood conditions, drought or both, as climate change accelerates.

These are just some of the issues to be covered in “Food Security in a Vulnerable World,” a daylong symposium Thursday, Sept. 12, in Cornell’s G10 Biotech Building. Meeting to discuss the issues will be three Cornell World Food Prize laureates, three World Food Prize Youth Institute alumni, four noted journalists and five Cornell researchers, starting at 10 a.m.

Hosted by International Programs in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP-CALS), the symposium kicks off the fall lineup of events that continues the yearlong celebration of IP-CALS’ 50 years of international engagement.

“We wanted to hear from some critical thinkers and doers – young and old alike – about what the world might look like in 40 years, what the production systems might be and what food policies make sense,” said Sarah Davidson Evanega, senior associate director of IP-CALS. “We wanted to hear how journalists cover the issues now, and close the day with multidisciplinary perspectives from Cornell researchers on scenarios for the future.”

Of interest to those interested in international food and development and food policy will be the 10 a.m. to noon session, “Food Policy for Food Security,” involving international health and nutrition expert Per Pinstrup-Andersen, the H.E. Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy at Cornell; soil scientist Colin McClung, M.S. ’49, Ph.D. ’50; agronomist Pedro Sanchez ’62, M.S. ’64, Ph.D. ’68, of Columbia University; and World Food Prize Youth Institute alumni Alyssa Pritts ’15, Cynthia Ulbing and Alden Morris.

The panel will be moderated by Ken Quinn, president of the World Food Prize and former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia.

The 1-3 p.m. session, “Find the Food Security Story,” will include Roger Thurow, former foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal; Erik Stokstad, who writes for Science; freelancer Lori Rotenberk, who contributes to Grist, the Boston Globe and Modern Farmer; and global radio, print and video journalist Jonathan Miller, a frequent contributor to NPR, BBC and PRI. Bruce Lewenstein, professor of science communication at Cornell, will moderate.

The 3:30-5:30 p.m. session, “Food for the Future: Where Are We Going and How Do We Get There?” will include Syed Rizvi, Cornell professor of food science, who asked previously, “how we are going to address survivability as well as sustainability for the world’s poorest?”

“The injustice of it is that the worst of the impacts are probably going to be felt by those who have most to lose and who contributed least to causing the problem,” said Rizvi, noting that drought, rocketing bread prices, food and water shortages and resulting political insecurity are already being felt.

Rizvi will be joined by Cornell colleagues: Chris Barrett, the Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management; Johannes Lehmann, professor of crop and soil sciences; Rebecca Nelson, professor of plant breeding and genetics; and animal scientist Michael Van Amburgh, professor of animal science. Miller will moderate.