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FOOD SECURITY: Global Project Aims to Address 'Uncomfortable' Questions about Sustainable Agriculture

Summary posted by Meridian on 5/28/2015

Source: ClimateWire (28 May 2015)

Author(s): Niina Heikkinen

The Global Food Ethics Project is working to reframe the way stakeholders think about and address global food security. While still in its initial stages, the project recently published a report outlining its focus areas for future study. The team of experts at Johns Hopkins University, United States, which is heading up the project, plans to gather data on topics like the fair treatment of farmers and farmworkers, the appropriateness of agricultural subsidies, and the distribution of technology and natural resources to low-income countries. The research could provide stakeholders with advice on how to address ethical concerns in their food aid programs. And, added William Easterling, the dean of earth and mineral sciences at Pennsylvania State University, also in the U.S., who was involved in the project’s working group, the research is intended to address uncomfortable questions that often get swept under the rug. "So often, when it comes down to it, when our political leaders are forced with making political decisions, it often boils down to straight economics," he said. "If you were to turn that around and ask, 'Well, what if the casualties of not making that investment is an increasing divide between those who don't have adequate food and those that do?' does that make a difference in how we make these decisions?" Another goal of the research, said project director Yashar Saghai, is to determine how much food the planet will need to feed its growing population. "Basically, all discussions on food security are premised on the idea either that we don't need to increase food production at all, [or] others say we need to increase production by 60 to 100 percent," he said. "We believe there are very serious problems with the quality of the data and the ethical assumptions that are rolled into the data."

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