DuPont Executive Vice President Jim Borel encouraged industry leaders and students to join efforts to end world hunger during his address yesterday at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies’ “Year of Agriculture” symposium.
With food security at the top of this month’s G8 summit, Jim emphasized that all of us have a role to play in addressing hunger, and that no one company, nonprofit or industry can tackle it alone.
“Even in the United States, for instance — a land of enormous agricultural productivity — statistics indicate that last year about one in seven Americans experienced some degree of food insecurity,” Jim said. “Overcoming hunger within the United States and around the world will require a lasting commitment to collaboration all along the food value chain. Everyone must come to the table. Because feeding the world is everyone’s business.”
Jim outlined three themes that are essential to make significant advances in food security and to feed the 7 billion people of today, and 9 billion of tomorrow.
- Leverage the best of science to identify the most effective solutions. Jim said, “Science can help provide the answers we need to ensure a viable, sustainable food supply despite increased pressure from climates, pests and land and water challenges.”
- Sustainability of Food. “We need to improve the overall sustainability of food, including how it is produced, how it gets on our plates and how much of it is wasted. Efforts cannot be sustainable – economically, socially or environmentally – if we do not reduce waste, for example. More than a third of food is lost to waste in developing countries and developed countries.”
- Cultivate the next generation of leaders who will create the path to achieve food security. “We must assure that the best minds and brightest thinkers of the next generation are fully engaged in addressing food security locally — from science and technology, transportation and logistics, and government and regulatory policy.”
During his keynote, Jim invited current and future leaders to join him in asking some tough questions, including: “How is your expertise helping to ensure people everywhere have food to eat? And, how can we work together and invite others to join us?”
Jim also addressed the pervasive consequences of hunger on a family, community, nation and world.
“If we cannot provide food security — if people go hungry, if people are allowed to starve — it will not just be a humanitarian crisis, but a geo-political crisis as well. People will be hungry, ungovernable and angry,” said Jim. “Severe hunger can easily lead to civil unrest or worse. Starving families are only focused on survival. Clearly, it is in our own best interests to prevent this.”
However, Jim maintained that agriculture is an optimistic science, and “this is a challenge all of us can rise to meet. But, not by doing business as usual. Not by looking the other way or waiting for someone else to lead the way. And not by working alone. We must face this together.”