Symposium on What Future for the Agriculture and Food Sector in an Increasingly Globalised World?
30-31 March 2009
Recent global economic events have (once again) made it clear that the agriculture and food sector is tightly interwoven with the global economic system – agriculture both relies on fuel-based inputs and increasingly supplies biofuel for various uses; credit markets ensure needed capital for both short and long term investments, while broader financial market developments can either ensure or constrain risk management options, for producers and processors; and so on.
Perhaps more pronounced than ever are economic developments in non-OECD countries that are changing the face of global agriculture, on both the demand and supply sides. Global food supply networks are changing to satisfy the new demands both in emerging economies and mature OECD markets.
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Keynote address by Mr Tim Searchinger, Princeton University
Panel ‘Innovation’: What can technology and innovation contribute?
Impressive productivity growth in agriculture has historically been a main driver behind human development, enabling an exponential growth of population and allowing labour to be employed in non-agricultural activities. What can innovation contribute to overcoming ‘new scarcities’ that are emerging?
• Which are the key developments in agri-food innovation (perhaps broken down by specify sub-sectors, e.g. farming techniques, aquaculture, novel foods, bio-based economy, nano-technology)
• What are key factors helping and hindering innovation (private versus public funding, intellectual property rights regimes, regulation (e.g. biotech) )
• How can developing countries participate and benefit from innovation?
Panel Summary by Mr Melvyn Askew, Founder of Census-Bio, Fellow of Central Science Laboratory York
Panel ‘Competing claims’: What are the main scarcities that will drive agro-food developments?
The panel will take a broad view of sustainability, i.e. including economic and social sustainability as well as environmental sustainability. The panel will work towards identifying the main resource constraints (which may differ between regions in the world) and draw implications for future developments of agro-food.
• What are the main constraints?: Water, land, minerals, energy, labour…
• What are the implications of demographic changes?
• Climate change implications
Presentation by Mr David Blandford, Penn State University
Presentation by Mr Michiel A. Keyzer and Mr Roelf L. Voortman, Centre for World Food Studies, VU University Amsterdam
Panel ‘Agriculture and its neighbours’: What are the links with non-agricultural sectors?
Integration of agri-food with other sectors in the economy: does the panel see major changes relative to the past? (e.g. more or less dependence on financial markets)
• Have the links with input markets, energy markets and financial markets become stronger?
• What are the trends and uncertainties in the industrial organization of the food chain (e.g. vertical integration, market structure, FDI, trade)?
Presentation by Ms Alison Burell, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the European Commission (IPTS)
Panel ‘Great expectations’: What is society expecting from the global food system?
Consumer attitudes and consumer concerns and expectations vis-à-vis agriculture (food safety, food quality…)
• What is the likely nature of societal demands on agriculture round the world? (provider of food at reasonable prices, provider of green space for recreation, a custodian of natural heritage, an engine of development in poor countries, source of rural well being, an alternative source of energy – and other non-food uses, and much more?)
• Is the global food system evolving to a dual system: food for the poor, food for the rich?
• Corporate Social Responsibility and public policy: private and public responses to changing demands.
Plenary panel: What is on the horizon?
The panel will be formed by the four chairs from the breakout panels, the two keynote speakers and a Chair. The panel should bring together insights from the previous thematic addresses and breakout panels. One function of the plenary panel is reporting about what happened in the breakouts; another function would be to try to identify which of the trends and developments signalled in the previous sessions should be taken on board by governments in framing longer term policy developments. The plenary panel would not focus on policy conclusions or policy recommendations, rather on better understanding which of the projected developments need to be on the policy-makers horizon in the longer term.
Plenary address: A different future for agro-food?
This plenary speech, finally, will summarize and draw conclusions with policy relevance. Is the medium term future for agro-food different from the recent past? Can we identify broad areas where policy (in-) action would be desirable? What are those? What can be done at national level, what should be addressed multilaterally, including at the OECD?
Presentation: Summary presented to the OECD Committee for Agriculture, 1 April 2009 by Ms Alison Burrell, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the European Commission (IPTS)