Forum for the Future of Agriculture

Tuesday March 16th 2010 will be the third time the Forum for the Future of Agriculture is being held in Brussels. As in previous years, it opens the floor to thinkers from around the world to debate, discuss and offer new points of view.

This year’s focus is on The Economics and Politics of Food vs. Climate Change; a relevant topic given the recent climate summit in Copenhagen, but even more so when facing the problems of growing food insecurity all over the world.

The mutual effects of agriculture and climate change on one another have become impossible to ignore. Agriculture accounts for about one third of the world’s total Green House Gas emissions, while changes in temperature and weather conditions could have vast effects on farming. FAO also pointed out the largely unused potential to reduce emissions from agriculture to nearly zero, but this creates the dilemma of how to do so whilst increasing productivity to feed a fast growing population.

Although agriculture has only played a minor role in the climate change talks until recently, its value at the core of the debate is only now beginning to emerge. A third of the world’s population involved in farming is facing a bleak future if no effort is made to develop constructive adaptation strategies to help farmers to produce the world’s supply of food. In turn, we need to offer help and information to actively involve them in climate change mitigation and conserving nature and biodiversity.

FFA2010 will try to address this dilemma and has once again attracted a high calibre of speaker including Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, the Special Adviser to the United Nations on Globalization and an external adviser to the World Trade Organisation, who will make the keynote address.

We are also delighted to be joined by Dr. Joseph Glauber, the Chief Economist at the US Department of Agriculture; Dr. Carey Fowler, the Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust; H.E. Brave Ndisale, Ambassador of Malawi to the European Union, Sir Crispin Tickell, a former Adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and one of the first to warn of the dangers posed by climate change; and a number of leading MEPs, among whom Paolo de Castro, Chairman of the Agricultural Committee, Mairead McGuiness and others to be confirmed.

Putting the questions to these and our other speakers will be the renowned international journalist, Steven Sackur, presenter of BBC’s HardTalk programme, whilst the Forum itself will be chaired by the former EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Franz Fischler.

We do hope you will be able to join an exceptional set of discussions on the most current political topic, held at Brussel’s prestigious new venue, The Square.

To register please follow the instructions on ForumForAgriculture.com.

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  1. It appears to me as if one certain thing humanity cannot keeping doing much longer is the very same thing we are so adamantly and foolishly doing now as the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us choose to recklessly speed up the ever increasing, seemingly endless growth of the global economy as well as to deceptively manipulate human beings into going along with a conspicuous per-capita overconsumption and unreserved overpopulation agenda.

    If we keep doing what we are doing now and the human community keeps getting what it is getting now, I fear that sooner rather than later everything we are led to believe we are protecting and preserving will be ruined. In the not-too-distant future a distinct probability could exist that one of two colossal calamities will occur. The wanton dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the relentless degradation of Earth’s frangible environment, and the approaching destruction of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation by the human species, when taken together, appear to be proceeding toward the precipitation of a catastrophic ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort unless, of course, the world’s ever expanding, artificially designed, manmade global political economy (the modern “economic colossus”) continues to speed headlong toward the monolithic ‘wall’ called “unsustainability” at which point humanity’s runaway economy crashes before Earth’s ecology is collapsed.

    Could we talk about the need for a new vision for life on Earth?

    Months ago Andy Revkin of the NYTimes and the Dot Earth community asked the question, “What does humanity do when we grow up?” Dr. Joel Cohen has explained elsewhere how humanity is currently in an adolescent phase of its development and is moving toward maturity. Other experts have suggested that the behavior of people in many places is even more primitive, in the sense of being less grown-up than adolescents and more nearly infantile.

    Perhaps another way of coming up with a new vision would be to ask the question, “What might a human world look like when full grown, mature human beings with feet of clay design, construct and organize a new world order in the future?”

  2. Please assist me. Our species has given itself the name Homo sapiens sapiens.

    In light of the deplorable, human-induced state of our planetary home as well as all of the unfinished work we have immediately ahead of us in order to begin accomplishing the many things that some of our brightest and best say here and now “matter most”, are we justified by reason or common sense in naming ourselves as we have or is this way of identifying ourselves a misleading moniker of a sort that reveals more about human hubris than it says about human intelligence, much less our possessed wisdom?

    Would the name “Homo hubris hubris” be more accurate?

  3. How can we possibly address and overcome the global challenges before us if so-called leaders and self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us refuse to acknowledge them? How are willful blindness, hysterical deafness and elective mutism by this “politically correct” and “socially agreeable” leadership, with regard to certain human-driven global threats to humanity, helpful?

    Are there more vital issues than the ones derived directly from the patently unsustainable global overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of the human species that are rampantly overwhelming the finite resources and frangible ecology of Earth in our time?

  4. As UN Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan noted in 1997, “The world has enough food. What it lacks is the political will to ensure that all people have access to this bounty, that all people enjoy food security.”

    Please examine the probability that humans are producing too much, not too little food. The problem we face is the way increasing the global food supply leads to increasing absolute global human population numbers. It is the super-abundant, large scale harvests that are making it possible for population numbers of the human species to explode beyond the limits imposed by the relatively small, evidently finite, noticeably frangible environment of a planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth.

    The spectacular success of the Green Revolution over the past 40 years has “produced” an unintended and completely unanticipated global challenge, I suppose: the rapidly increasing supply of food for human consumption has given birth to a human population bomb, which is exploding worldwide before our eyes.

    Perhaps the most formidable threat to future human wellbeing and environmental health appears to be caused by the unbridled, corporate overproduction of food on the one hand and the abject failure of the leaders of the human community to insist upon more fair and equitable redistribution of the world’s food supply so that “all people enjoy food security”.

    WE NEED TO SHARE (not overconsume and hoard) AND TO BUILD SUSTAINABLE, HUMAN-SCALE FARMING PRACTICES(not patently unsustainable agribusiness leviathans).

  5. Thanks for all you are doing.

    Can you point to another species in this wondrous world we are blessed to inhabit that both eats itself out of its own houses and ravages its earthly home as Homo sapiens is doing in our time?

    If you can, does that species possess the level of consciousness, collective intelligence and other miraculous gifts (e.g., opposable thumbs) that make significant, rapid adaptation to the practical requirments of biophysical reality possible for the human species. To be in possession of such gifts as human beings have and then willfully choose not to deploy them as best we can because it is politically inconvenient and economically inexpedient; because human greed has been legitimized, institutionalized, legalized and regarded as virtuous, looks like a crime against humanity as well as the Earth for which human beings proclaim to be stewards, I suppose.

    Sincerely,

    Steve Salmony

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