Dr. Roger Beachy, the Florida Genetics 2014 Symposium keynote speaker, is the founding executive director of the World Food Center at University of California, Davis. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Beachy is internationally known for his groundbreaking scientific work on crop disease resistance, and for his visionary leadership in food and agriculture research.
With the world’s population projected to increase to nine billion by 2050, there’s an urgent need to reform food production to meet the rising demand, according to the World Food Center. Dr. Beachy will address these challenges and the central importance of plant, animal and microbial genetics in meeting world food needs during the keynote address of the Florida Genetics 2014 symposium.
Florida Genetics 2014 Keynote Address – HPNP Auditorium
October 29, 5:30 p.m.
Increasing the odds that science and technology will impact food and nutrition security
A great deal has been made of the grand challenges in agriculture, food, and nutrition, and researchers in the public and private sector strive to prepare to meet the challenges that accompany a growing population. Meanwhile, it is economic and other social factors that limit access to both sufficiency and quality of calories for many people, factors that are beyond the direct impacts of natural sciences.
We regularly hear the projections that unusual and unanticipated challenges in weather patterns will disrupt agriculture in dramatic ways in coming years: Australia, Pakistan, Colombia, China, Kenya, and Calif. are currently in the midst of multi-year droughts. There are challenges of food safety that stem from unsafe groundwater, some as a result of run-off from poor farming practices; others from greater reliance on ground water for irrigation because of diminishing stores of underground water. Other challenges include reducing incidence and severity of obesity and increasing nutrition across wealthy and non-wealthy countries alike.
Fortunately, advances in genomic sciences, nanotechnologies, information dissemination as well as others are and will offer solutions to the technical sides of these challenges. Progress in the policy and social arenas are less rapid or assured. S&T based advances do not, however, ensure that solutions will be either approved or accepted. The current level of rejection of GM crops and foods, and rejection of childhood vaccines, are examples. The reasons for consumer rejection of technologies, including those related to food and nutrition, are complex and multifaceted and not easily understood. There is a growing sense that scientists and technologists, including those at the forefront of discovery, have an obligation to be part of the ‘education and information platform’ that universities and colleges provide to the public, including journalists.
However, engagement must be different in today’s media environment than in the past; for example, during the times when GM technologies and vaccine programs were initially developed. Without re-setting our approaches to communication and community interactions at large, it is likely that adoption of the next new advances will be slow to reach the public, possibly delaying achievement of goals presented by the grand challenges.