Food

Joachim von Braun

Director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.

M.S. Swaminathan

An agricultural scientist known as ‘The Father of the Green Revolution’ in India.

Hans Eenhoorn

Associate professor Food Security and Entrepreneurship at Wageningen University.

Hans R. Herren

Hans R. HerrenHans R. Herren (Switzerland/USA) is President of the Millennium Institute (MI) since May 2005. From 2004 to 2008 he co-chaired the International Assessment of Agricultural science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). Prior to joining MI, he was Director-General of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Nairobi, Kenya. He also served as Director of the Africa Biological Control Center of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in Benin.

At ICIPE, Hans developed and implemented programs in the area of human, animal, plant and environmental health (the 4-H paradigm) as they relate to insect issues. At IITA, he conceived and implemented the highly successful biological control program that saved the African cassava crop, and averted Africa’s worst-ever food crisis.

Over the years, Hans has moved his interests toward integrated sustainable development, in particular, linking environmental, plant, animal, and human health issues.

Hans R. Herren

President of the Millennium Institute in Washington

Hans R. Herren points to three major challenges in food systems: finding solutions to sustainable productivity and multifunctionality of agriculture; having enough food for everyone (hunger-poverty link); and rising food prices.

We have to find solutions on how to produce more food in a sustainable way. We also need to reintegrate much more animals with crops in the farming system, this will help in restoring much needed soil fertility, and the reduction of excess manure from feed lots, energy use and the abuse of antibiotics and hormones in large scale animal production.

We should also re-focus agricultural research towards the development of sustainable production systems, value of ecosystem services, adaptation to climate risk and adding value at the farm level to improve farmer’s income. Biotechnology may someday be useful in some specific areas such as drought, salt and other abiotic constraint adaptations, but I don’t see a need for the products that are on the market today for the small and family farmers. Why? Because today’s GMOs don’t produce more food, they help cut production costs, in the first few years until insects and weeds catch up again, as we have seen earlier with the use of insecticides. That’s why we introduced Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which was meant to treat the causes of pest outbreaks. The GMO crop cultivars that are used today are basically a step back, to the pre-IPM period. Many pest problems can actually be solved with classical breeding and marker assisted breeding methods, that do not force farmers into costly licensing agreements with seed companies or lock them into the use of specific herbicides.

I would like to ask people: Do you prefer mass produced food that is cheap and transported halfway around the world or do you prefer quality food, produced locally - even by people you may know - in a sustainable manner?