OP-ED BY SYNGENTA SEEDS PRESIDENT: THE FOOD SECURITY AND AGRICULTURAL DISCONNECT
Mar. 24, 2014
by David Morgan, President, Syngeta Seeds, Inc.
As we celebrate National Ag Day this week, it is essential to recognize an important disconnect that exists regarding how people around the world think about food and agriculture.
While many share the belief that producing more food for a growing global population will be a critical challenge in the next decade, views on agriculture and food production are conflicting and have important consequences for food security.
Extensive research has revealed a widespread societal view questioning whether farming needs to become more responsible.
Specifically, there is openness to the use of agricultural technology, but a concern over pesticides, fertilizers and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
A recognition that increased production will lead to greater water scarcity is coupled with a belief that more water and land will be needed in agriculture. Large-scale farming is widely viewed as having the greatest potential to meet demand, but many believe that organic, local and urban farming should take priority.
Food imports are viewed as acceptable, but within a context that each country have the capability to be self-sufficient. And finally, there is an opinion that ensuring an adequate food supply is the responsibility of government rather than farmers, or business.
Syngenta believes it is incumbent on business to play a larger role in fostering a long-term approach to food security. This means using our substantial investment in research and development (R&D) to advance technologies that not only protect - but also enhance - the environment, and benefit rural communities.
Last year, Syngenta announced six commitments to address the global food security challenge. The Good Growth Plan has specific, ambitious and measurable targets which focus on boosting resource efficiency, rejuvenating ecosystems and strengthening rural communities. These commitments are:
*Make crops more efficient: Increase average productivity of the world's major crops by 20 percent without using more land, water or inputs
*Rescue more farmland: Improve the fertility of 10 million hectares of farmland on the brink of degradation
*Help biodiversity flourish: Enhance biodiversity on 5 million hectares of farmland
*Empower smallholders: Reach 20 million smallholders and enable them to increase productivity by 50 percent
*Help people stay safe: Train 20 million farm workers on labor safety, especially in developing countries
*Look after every worker: Strive for fair labor conditions throughout our entire supply chain network
Clearly, humanity is facing a tough challenge this century. Every day, our planet wakes with 200,000 more mouths to feed and more farmland lost to erosion. Many people who produce the world's food are living in poverty, while biodiversity is disappearing fast. We have only one planet, and we're using its resources 50 percent faster than it can take. What we're asking it to provide is simply not sustainable.
We believe that, together, we will find solutions to these unprecedented challenges. We are growing more food and using fewer resources. We are protecting nature and improving life for those in rural communities. We must not lose the will to continue. Our future depends on it.