Forum for the Future of Agriculture

With the FFA2009 now just one month away, the event is attracting more interest than ever. . Part of the attraction is undoubtedly from the confirmation of Paul Krugman, last year’s Nobel Prize Winner for Economics, who will make a rare speech on food security at the Conference. But the strong line-up of speakers from European and World Governments, the European Parliament, Industry, and NGOs, continues to highlight the urgent need to achieve food and environmental security– something also confirmed at last month’s conference in Madrid on the same subject.

Part of the interest of course is that whilst many may have thought that the crisis was passing with last year’s dramatic fall in agricultural commodity prices, the warning lights are actually starting to flash again. As the media continues to show us, global stocks of cereals remain depressed at their lowest levels for nearly three decades; commodity prices remain above the long term trends and appear to be on the rise again; whilst the current droughts in the southern Hemisphere may again constrain global supply. So how concerned should we be about the immediate impact of last year’s crisis which has been a key driver in the number of people facing hunger and starvation – now rising to over 950 million? Will we only begin to stand up and take action when it hits closer to home? Whilst it is not surprising that current political attention is focused on the immediate nature of the current economic downturn, it is surely obvious that we must examine and come up with solutions for building sustainable farming systems around the world. This must mean incorporating all the available practices and technologies that enable us to produce what we need, whilst optimizing the use of natural resources such as soil and water and of course protecting biodiversity.

Europe is aware of the importance of trying to resolve the long term challenges – like food and environmental security – which threatens political and economic stability in the world in the 21st century. But are we really doing enough? What do you think must be done to tackle this modern day food and environmental crisis?

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