Dealing with the food crisis
McGill University's Macdonald Campus, home to the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, is behind the Global Food Security conference being held downtown next week.
About 50 international experts in agriculture, food and nutrition, including representatives from government, farm groups to NGOs, are coming down to participate and discuss a framework for long-term solutions to declining world food stocks and rising food prices, said Chandra Madramootoo, dean of the Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty. "This is the first time we're putting something like this together," he said. "We were motivated by the world food crisis. You may remember reports this past spring about the rice shortage and food riots in Haiti and Egypt."
A topic such as biofuel will also be dealt with since produce such as corn is being diverted from a food source in order to make ethanol, Madramootoo said.
Indian water expert ER. M. Gopalakrishnan, the Secretary General of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, will be one of the speakers at the conference. He said there is a need for more investment, especially in the least developed and developing countries, to ensure water and food security. "It is good that the recent food shock due to lack of stock had at least kicked of attention that was quite necessary as there was a neglect in the agriculture sector; water for food faced a scorn," he told The Chronicle via e-mail. "Because of complacency due to reserve build up and its impact on prices this sector was in a pitiable condition and research allocations slid down." Organizations such as the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program, the World Bank and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, and several others, will be represented at the conference. The Sept. 24-26 event is open to the public, but there is a registration fee. The conference consists of two events: a public lecture next Wednesday night and the conference itself on Sept. 25 and 26. For more information, check www.mcgill.ca/globalfoodsecurity.