I was first asked to serve on the Advisory Group back in 2010, I’m sure on the recommendation of former Kansas Congressman and Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman, who has served as co-chair since its inception in 2008. The focus has been on the United States’ commitment to agricultural development as a way to alleviate global poverty, and last year’s report was titled: Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate. In addition to the fundamental concerns tied to malnutrition and poverty, I am particularly interested in the potential impacts on national security coming from a growing population and the challenges to feed that growth, with the failure to do so leading to more potential hotspots for terrorism and other human rights issues.
As an alum of Kansas State University (Dairy Husbandry '62), I am particularly proud of the talent within our College of Agriculture and Research and Extension. The role they are playing in helping address the many challenges of more successfully feeding our growing population is quite significant. They are the home of four new Feed the Future Innovation Labs, started in 2013, with funding of $100 million over five years from the U.S. Agency for International Development. In addition, the National Science Foundation named K-State the lead institution for the world’s first NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Wheat Genetic Resources. For the Kansan or American asking, “What’s in it for us?” I would point to the advancement of knowledge and research that will have mutual benefit, the development of markets for our products, and the progress being made toward a more secure, prosperous world for us all.
Through the Global Agricultural Development Initiative, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has released a series of blog posts leading up to the Symposium that I highly recommend, especially to those who are interested in global food systems. The Symposium will be streaming live here, and they will also be sharing updates on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. I am looking forward to this year’s Symposium and encourage others to tune in.