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Society for Experimental Biology

Food security and safety symposium

Start Date:13 Sep 10 End Date:15 Sep 10

With the world's population set to reach 7 billion at a time when the predicted global warming of our climate will make it increasingly difficult to grow food, even in many of the major food-producing regions, food security and safety are high on the global political agenda.

Food security is not solely about science and technology, social institutions or natural phenomena. Nor is it the sum of these. Instead, it is about the rather messy entanglements of all of these. Thus, food security might be improved, but it is not a problem that can be solved in any simple sense. It will require diverse knowledge-capacities, practical skills, and resources to achieve sustainably.

Food security may be divided into three major components:

Food system discussions and policies need to recognise what can be the rather considerable conflicts among those within food supply chains (from input suppliers to final consumers). Thus, the use of crops and land for energy, for forest products, for fibre crops, as well as non-agricultural uses of land and water (for example, for mining, manufacturing, urban sprawl) are not merely a matter of tradeoffs; they are points of heated (and sometimes violent) conflict among various interests and groups in society. Moreover, merely increasing production or productivity is unlikely to resolve these conflicts.

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