How American agriculture can work with the EU on food sustainability

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Experts stressed that food safety is not only critical for public health, but also for food security, economic development and trade.  [SHUTTERSTOCK]

We must build more resilient, sustainable global food systems that can feed an increasingly hungry world, or there will be dire consequences, warn Kip Tom and Ronald J. Gidwitz.

Kip Tom is the US ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome; Ronald J. Gidwitz  is the US ambassador to the EU.

Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, once cautioned that ”there are no miracles in
agricultural production.”

It’s an interesting sentiment, especially coming from someone who led a wave of ground-breaking agricultural advancements that helped save billions from starvation.

But as we look at the current global food crisis, we would be wise to consider his warning: no tool or invention or even country will be the sole saviour in the fight to end hunger. And it’s going to take more than a miracle to overcome the challenges ahead.

Nearly two billion people  are  facing food insecurity in the world today, and nearly 270 million are on the brink of starvation, due to climate change, conflict and the COVID19 pandemic.

For tens of millions more across the world, hope is slipping farther and farther from view.  As Executive Director of the World Food Program, David Beasley, warns, “2021 is going to be catastrophic.”

For world leaders, the life-or-death challenge at hand is clear: we must build more resilient,
sustainable global food systems that can feed an increasingly hungry world, or there will be dire
consequences.

We have a moral imperative to do everything we can to stop this impending disaster.
We have to reach for every tool in our collective toolbox, embrace innovation, take bold action.
And we must collaborate across sectors, organizations and nations.

We’ve spent too much time already mired in politicized debate over competing visions for our agricultural and food systems. We simply don’t have the luxury to waste any more time – the stakes are too high.

The fact is, there isn’t one right way forward, no singular policy or method that will solve all of
the problems we are currently facing and the challenges sure to emerge on the road ahead.
Nature itself depends on vibrant diversity to prosper – we know that monoculture leaves our
forests and fields just one threat away from complete collapse.

We also need diversity in our food systems.  Only by coming together to support a diverse range of ideas and perspectives can we help our global agricultural systems flourish and achieve food security for all.

We applaud the considerable goals set forth in the European Union’s Green Deal and share many of them: increased environmental stewardship, improved biodiversity and globally equitable access to healthy, nutritious food.

But we must be judicious in how we work to achieve them. The agricultural policies promoted by the developed world have far-reaching global ramifications.

Top-down mandates that ignore farmers’ on-the-ground needs, or rigid unilateral policies that ignore social and economic costs are not a sustainable solution to the crisis at hand and have the potential to exacerbate our food security challenges—or even cause the next disaster.

We are convinced the science and data-based, technology-focused U.S. model that has helped
propel modern agriculture to incredible levels of sustainable productivity will be a critical piece
in the broader strategy to continue feeding a growing world.

And we believe that by bringing our American agricultural ingenuity together with the best and boldest ideas from Europe and our other partners around the globe, we can work within our planetary boundaries to promote more efficient and sustainable food production, and ultimately offer better livelihoods and more opportunity to people everywhere.

We cannot lose sight of the common ground.

By drawing on our collective strengths and taking a holistic, open-minded approach to this challenge, we have the power to strengthen and safeguard every part of our global food systems– the land, the local economies, the supply chains, the farmers and the communities that all depend on one another to thrive—and achieve true and lasting food security for all.

So let this be our rallying cry: We must embrace all kinds of innovation and promote access to game-changing modern technology if we hope to be agile and resilient in the
face of future food security threats.

We must work together to expand data-backed, scientifically proven options to empower farmers, communities and nations.  And we must put aside our policy differences and do whatever it takes to make sure not another child goes to bed hungry.

We don’t need a miracle. We already have many of the tools and resources we need to
transform the lives of millions, and a world of innovations on the horizon. We just need the will
and the vision to come together and use them.

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