Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Experts gather to discuss food security

Last night The Global Change Institute : The University of Queensland hosted a FOOD SECURITY SUMMIT : PUBLIC FORUM at Customs House overlooking the Brisbane River. The 2 hour forum and conversation over drinks following made for an extremely engaging evening.  Read more.


Malcom DuthieMalcolm Duthie
Country Director, United Nations World Food Programme, Gambia
Mr Duthie, an Australian national, and is the current Country Director for the United Nations World Food Programme in Gambia. He has a degree in Economics and Masters in Social Planning and Development.
Mr Duthie has served in a wide range of positions and had undertaken assignments in many African countries. Prior to his role in The Gambia, he worked at WFP headquarters in Italy on a global assessment of WFP's decentralization approach. Prior to that he was the WFP representative in Laos where upon his end of duty was decorated by the government with their highest honour ever awarded to a foreigner - the Cross of Friendship - provided in recognition and appreciation for his work for the poor in that county.
He has also served in Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Cambodia and Indonesia.
David CrombieDavid Crombie
President of the National Farmers’ Federation
David Crombie is the President of the National Farmers’ Federation and operates family properties, breeding cattle and farming in southern Queensland. He also holds the positions of Director GRM and Rosewood; Deputy Chairman, FKP. Previously, David served as Chairman and Board Member of several national agribusiness and advocacy organisations.

Note:Unfortunately Annie Shattuck, Policy analyst, Food First, USA, can no longer attend due to family commitments.

Dr Jagjit PlaheJagjit Plahe
Jagjit Plahe is a Lecturer in International Political Economy and Course Director of the Diplomacy and Trade Program at Monash University. She has a strong commitment to research that focuses on, explores and analyses the implications of the global trading system for economic, social and cultural rights in the developing world.
Jagjit has previously worked in international development for the United Nations (in Kenya) and the non-government sector (in Kenya and Australia). She has undertaken project work for several development institutions including Action Aid and Centre for Trade and Development.
Her doctorate was on the political economy of the WTO’s intellectual property rights agreement and its implications for small rice farmers in the North-Western states of India. She has recently published articles in Third World Quarterly, Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy and Intellectual Property Quarterly.
Julian Cribb
Julian CribbScience communicator and author, Julian Cribb and Associates, Australia
Julian Cribb is an author, journalist, editor and science communicator and principal of Julian Cribb & Associates who provide specialist consultancy in the communication of science, agriculture, mining, energy and the environment. His career includes appointments as newspaper editor, scientific correspondent for The Australian newspaper, director of national awareness for CSIRO, member of numerous boards and advisory panels, and president of national professional bodies for agricultural journalism and science communication. His published work includes over 8000 articles, 3000 media releases and eight books. He has received 32 awards for journalism.

I was sorry to hear the speaker from Food First was unable to having been reading about their work recently.
I did manage to speak with the excellent speaker Jagjit Plahe after the forum as I had scribbled notes furiously through out her talk on the World Trade Organisation - in particular  India and the Intellectual Property Rights of SEEDS. She pointed out that Monsanto have now, through mergers and acquisitions, been taking over the world vegetable seed market. Read more on this speaker here. I hope to interview or receive further material from Jagjit Plahe soon.
The final speaker Julian Cribb offered much to consider as does his book below published by CSIRO Publishing here.
Coming Famine
In The Coming Famine, Julian Cribb lays out a vivid picture of an impending planetary crisis – a global food shortage that threatens to hit by mid-century – which, he argues, would dwarf any in our previous experience. Cribb’s comprehensive assessment points to a dangerous confluence of shortages – of water, land, energy, technology, and knowledge – combined with an increased demand created by population and economic growth.
Writing in brisk, accessible prose, Cribb explains how the food system interacts with the environment and with armed conflict, poverty, and other societal factors. He shows that high food prices and regional shortages are already sending out shockwaves to the international community. He warns that the heightened risk of regional famines will have a planet-wide effect on food prices, trade, and conflict and will generate new waves of refugees. But, far from outlining a doomsday scenario, The Coming Famine is a strong and positive call to action, exploring the greatest issue of our age and providing practical suggestions for addressing and averting each of the major challenges it raises. Text : CSIRO Publishing.

It was a most worthwhile evening of conversation and meetings. Weaving ideas together with others from different disciplines is an ideal outcome for an event like this. I have several leads to follow up on now.
I am particularly grateful to have met Australian based academic Jagjit Plahe undertaking potent work on agendas around intellectual property and seeds.

I'll leave you with this poem sent to me this morning from Anne Tennant whom I met last night. With warm thanks to Anne.

Good day my friends! I thank you for your ears
And yet am loathe to burden or distress
My thoughts are not of happy things for sure
Demons dark which mar my joys and life
I have no right to claim them mine alone
They are for all across this world of ours
And your own peace of mind is too at stake.
I thank you for this gift which now I seek
Of your inclusion in the threats we share
So! On with my tale and here it is.

On food, a thing we all must eat and love
And yet this is a sinister evil tale
Of how supply is owned around the globe
By less than six monopolistic giants
Involving slavery and greed, control of seeds
So profits put at risk all food for all
In future through their bioseed and loss
They press the farmers down and prices up
We are puppets complete in their dark game
Yet not a one among us knows their names
Nor who they are nor where they are nor why
They are discrete though huge, they rule us now
And sow poverty and famine all around the globe.

I feel so small, they seem so vast and bad
This is my pain that all my care is vain
And urgent want to make a change for good
Breaks like a wave on rocky shore in foam
And sucks away pathetically to nought
I share my grief with you so you will know
I care about this world of ours and grieve
I would it were not so that evil had advanced
So far and taken over all the stuff of life
But we are late advanced in world decline
And empires sure have crumbled past to dust
We well may live to see in our short lives
The end of this dark story yet unfold
And all may pay a price we none desire
For evil greed of those anonymous six.

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