Simmons: Solutions for enough food

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Food and agricultural experts from around the world gathered in Des Moines, Iowa this week for the 2013 Borlaug Dialogue hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation, in conjunction with World Food Day. During a Wednesday morning breakfast ceremony, Elanco President Jeff Simmons received the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology 2013 Borlaug CAST Communication Award, recognizing his vision in addressing the challenges of feeding the world’s growing population.

Jeff Simmons During the program, Simmons previewed his new white paper, “ENOUGH: – The Fight for a Food Secure Tomorrow.” Instead of focusing on the problem, Simmons is focused on the solutions.

He notes that as the world population grows to 9 billion by 2050, the global middle class will more than double in size, reaching nearly 5 billion by 2050. However, the fastest part of that growth will actually occur between now and 2020, meaning billions of people living better lives and demanding access to better diets, specifically meat, milk and eggs.

But when agriculture productivity lags, food gaps appear. Simmons cites the 2013 Global Protein Gap Analysis, conducted for the paper with validation from Informa Economics and Global AgriTrends. Today, on a global average, people have access to about a glass of milk, or dairy equivalent, per day, although the recommended intake is two glasses. And according to the report, by 2020 on our current productivity path, access will fall below one glass of milk each day on average, with more than 500 million falling short of one glass and 4.5 billion falling short of the two glasses a day our bodies really need for growth and cognitive development.

In addition the 2013 Global Protein Gap Analysis, the white paper will outline the results of these research projects:  

  • International Consumer Foods Attitudes Study: 2nd edition Spring 2013.
  • Food Chain Decisions in a Social World: New Ways to Measure What the Consumer Wants.
  • Center for Food Integrity 2013 Hunger Solutions Survey.

Simmons says among potential solutions, experts, history and practical global execution prove the following three stand out as the most significant, that can have the most impact and can be acted upon the quickest.

  1. Innovation. The products, practices and genetics that help farmers produce more food more sustainably – innovations that, in many cases, are already available and proven. Experts from scientists to economists say it’s the biggest part of the solution – 70 percent. We must enable innovation more than any time in our history. We must continue to raise the bar on safety, but regulatory bodies that approve innovations must be the ultimate authority. We also can’t allow fringe movements or non-factual information to turn into wrong policies and/or marketplace confusion that ultimately takes away proven solutions.
  2. Choice. Farmers need to be able to choose the right practices for their operations. Consumers need to be able to choose food that fits their price, taste and nutritional needs. And we need regulators and policy makers to make science-based policy choices. Choice must not be taken away without a fact-based, legitimate reason from science-based regulators.
  3. Trade. Trade is the mechanism that allows us to produce food where it’s more economical and sustainable and deliver it to people who need it. Pure economics and the environment prove that food must move from the most to the least productive areas for a food secure tomorrow. Politics need to be reduced while trade needs to increase in parallel with local advances in food production.

Simmons stresses that Food security is solvable. We have a window of opportunity to meet the challenge, he says, and a healthier, more sustainable, more peaceful world is possible.

Read more about this effort at

A video of Simmons’ presentation is available online.

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Proud American    
Washington  |  October, 18, 2013 at 01:11 PM

Eliminating federal subsidies and making it illegal to sell GMOs will do more to encourage free trade. Many countries will not buy our GMO exports. (Fewer exports means fewer jobs, too!) I have every confidence in the efficiency of American family farmer to maximize resources. A family farmer seeks to preserve his land and takes pride in what he produces. Government is the greatest obstacle to productivity--always has been. We would have real free market competition if large corporations did not receive federal dollars. When special interests are funded, it is not an even playing field. Unleash the traditions and know-how accumulated by generations of families on the land. If you allow them to compete freely and make a profit, you will not be able to keep people out of farming. The free market will insure that the most efficient and productive farmers stay in business.

October, 20, 2013 at 09:16 AM

Add access to land and resources to that list of three things necessary to meet demand for food. “… it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.” –Thomas Jefferson, to James Madison, 28 Oct 1785. Food grows on land. With the top 100 landowners owning a total of 33 million acres of U.S. land, what does that do for the millions of Americans who can't even own a house with space for a vegetable garden? What does that 33 million acres do to provide relief for bankrupted farmers and ranchers who have been done over the past three decades in by increasing waves of natural disasters like wildfire, floods, droughts, blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, not to mention medical disasters and indebtedness? Many young people in our area who would like to farm don't have a prayer of getting access to even a few acres. Meanwhile, the present generation of farmers and cattlemen are aging. Much of the land around here belongs to widows who have rented out pasture land to row crop farmers. Much of that land is being depleted of nutrients and mined of organic matter, its topsoil eroding away. Land use appropriate to the topography appears to have become a thing of the past. Meanwhile, the super-wealthy landowners who have no need to grow their own food possess an ever larger share of land for investment purposes. Weather extremes will become even more extreme as the buffer of forests, well-managed grasslands and topsoil disappear.

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