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.

Simmons: Solutions for enough foodDuring 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 sensibletable.com.

A video of Simmons’ presentation is available online.