hunger: “a disease of the soul”

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Cornell’s International Programs, a group of panel discussions on “Food Security for a Vulnerable World” were held on September 12. I spent the entire day watching these discussions, which took place in the Biotechnology building at Cornell. I could not help but notice that it took 1 hour and 20 minutes for anyone to utter the “magic words” — genetically modified organisms. This was incredibly powerful — this discussion on food security was not about biotechnology, biotechnology was implied already.

Panel 1: Food Policy for Food Security: A conversation with Cornell World Food Prize Laureates 

“Cornell is far and away the leading institution in the world for producing members of the all star team for producing … food in the 20th century,” —Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President World Food Prize

All of the World Food Prize laureates seemed to be in agreement: that doubling or tripling crop yields on our planet is worthwhile, but this production of more food itself is not sufficient.  Focus on infrastructure, policy, economics, and education is also necessary.

Per Pinstrup-Andersen — Former Director of the International Food Policy Research Institute and professor at Cornell University.  Won the 2001 World Food Prize for his work on the 2020 Vision Initiative, and his work in policy and economics of food security. (Was also my professor for my course, “Food Policy for Developing Countries,” that got me interested in food policy in the first place. The case studies and lectures from class can be found here — check it out!)

Colin McClung, MS’49, PhD’50 — Won 2006 World Food Prize for his role in transforming the Cerrado (region of vast, once infertile tropical high plains stretching across Brazil) into highly productive cropland.

Pedro Sanchez, BS’62, MS’64, PhD’68, Director of the Agriculture & Food Security Center — Won 2002 World Food Prize for his pioneering ways to restore fertility to some of the world’s most degraded soils.

World Food Prize Youth Institute Alumni, including Alyssa Pritts’15, who traveled to India with me in January 2013, and spent Summer 2013 working in an orphanage in Guatemala.

Panel 2: Finding the Food Security Story: A discussion with journalists 

“Without telling you the story, how much momentum can we bring behind some of these great advancements [in agriculture, food security, and hunger]?” —Roger Thurow

Jon Miller, Homelands Productions — “Food for 9 Billion” 

Erik Stokstad, Science

Roger Thurow, Wall Street Journal

Lori Rotenberk, Freelance

Moderated by Bruce Lewenstein, Cornell University Department of Communication.

Panel 3: Food for the Future: A discussion with Cornell researchers 

“CareerCast made its worst job of 2013 the dairy farmer. This bothers me: How do we make agriculture sexy again? It’s really hard. It’s a lot of work. This is also a bigger problem around the world.” —Mike Van Amburgh

Chris Barrett, Applied Economics and Management

Rebecca Nelson, Plant Pathology and Plant Microbe-Bilogy

Syed Rizvi, Food Science. Professor Rizvi was my project group leader when I was in India.

Mike Van Amburgh, Animal Science. Professor Van Amburgh took me and a group of students to Italy to study the Agricultural Industry (dairy industry, in particular) during my Sophomore year.


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