Where is the global food system headed? Perspectives on current and future hunger, obesity, sustainability and food crises


Dr Per Pinstrup-Andersen
3 June, 2010

Why you should listen

Watch the lecture recording by Slow TV below or watch it on the Slow TV site

Widespread hunger and malnutrition, rapidly increasing obesity and related chronic diseases, unsustainable management of natural resources and the recent food crisis call into question the ability and/or desire of the world’s governments to prioritise the achievement of the goal of sustainable food security for all. As the world population continues to grow, water becomes scarcer, soil erosion accelerates, consequences of climate change become more obvious and doomsday prophecies and predictions proliferates, a change of policies and institutions at national and international levels are urgently needed.

In his presentation for Sydney Ideas Professor Per Pinstrup-Andersen gives a brief description of the current situation and expected trends, then suggests a set of policy changes which are needed. The presentation concludes that sustainable food security for all can be achieved but only if appropriate policies and institutions are pursued. This will require real changes in national and international priorities and not just another set of summits and development goals.

Dr. Per Pinstrup-Andersen, the catalyst behind the groundbreaking 2020 Vision Initiative, was selected to receive the World Food Prize in 2001 for his contribution to agricultural research, food policy, and uplifting the status of the poor and starving citizens of the world. An agricultural economist by training, Dr. Pinstrup-Andersen’s major accomplishment has not been technical or scientific in nature; instead, it has been the recognition that true food security will come as much from reliable policy research and exchange and thorough policy implementation as it will from technological and scientific advances.

Dr Pinstrup-Andersen is the H.E. Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy and Professor of Applied Economics at Cornell University is a vocal advocate for increased research to support food production and the policy surrounding it. He also holds professorial appointments at Copenhagen University. He is past president of the American Agricultural Economics Association and past chairman of the Science Council of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, which under his leadership concluded a review of priorities for international agricultural research in the next ten years. In 2006, his research on armed conflict contributing to international terrorism and deterring development and food security was presented at the Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture Series; his current research activities deal with the impact of globalization on poverty, food security and nutrition.

He has written over 300 books, articles, and papers and his 2001 book Seeds of Contention has been published in five languages. Norman Borlaug, 1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has noted Dr Pinstrup-Andersen to be “one of the most influential economists and policy makers today” and “an outstanding spokesperson for effective economic policies for transforming agricultural production of food deficit nations". He continues his own research as well as fostering, contributing to, and coordinating the work of his peers.

Professor Per Pinstrup-Andersen is a guest of the University of Sydney Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Centenary Celebrations 2010