EU Science Hub

Food security or the need to do more with less on a global scale

Apr 01 2011

During the workshop on the "Future of Global Food and Farming - How can Science Support Food Security? " that was held on March 30 in Brussels, representatives from various European, national and international organisations highlighted the need to increase the sustainability of the food system in order to secure the world population's access to adequate, sustainable and good quality food.

Representatives from both organising entities: the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the UK Government Office for Science highlighted the need to act globally as well as the concept of "sustainable intensification" of agriculture, or how to do more with less.

Dominique Ristori, Director General of the JRC, called for global action, as "food security is one of the most important grand societal challenges" and highlighted the leading role of the European Union in this field, with actions such as the EUR 1 billion food facility that was adopted in 2008 which was a response to growing food security problems in many developing countries.

Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, also drew attention to the global perspective, but from another angle: "one cannot get the food system "right" just by policies and decisions within the food system. It is intimately connected with a wide range of other agendas – i.e. energy and water - and it cannot be considered in isolation…".

Regarding sustainable intensification of agriculture, both speakers highlighted the invaluable contribution science can make, by proposing solutions to some of the main problems of agricultural sustainability: use of water, greenhouse gas emissions, land degradation and crops' improvement.

A wide variety of other experts and policy makers also took part in the seminar, including Marit Paulsen, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development as well as several senior speakers from the European Commission (DG Agriculture and Rural Development, DG Research and Innovation, DG Development and Cooperation and DG Environment). In addition representatives were present from the Polish ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food, Oxfam, the World Bank and the World Economic Forumalso presented their views

They all focused on key issues that have been identified in the recently published report by the UK Government Office for Science, on "The future of Food and Farming" and include: managing supply and demand in the food system, food price volatility, ending hunger and limiting emissions. The objective was to identify solutions that already exist and can be deployed by spreading knowledge and technology.

Presentations, pictures and the programme can be downloaded from the press pack