CHICAGO – Agriculture can be both a victim and a cause of climate change, say global warming experts. But new sustainable strategies that can help farming adapt to hotter conditions may help reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint too.
With 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions attributed to agriculture, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), farmers worldwide can play a role in combating global warming even as they increase productivity. Climate-smart agriculture, a term coined just a few years ago, will be key to reducing emissions and improving food security in the decades ahead, states the latest series of interviews from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) FutureFood 2050 publishing initiative. FutureFood 2050 explores how increasingly sophisticated science and technology will help feed the world’s projected 9 billion-plus people in 2050.
“Environmental degradation, climate change and food insecurity are all interconnected and are all issues of social justice,” says environmental campaigner Bianca Jagger, who advocates a comprehensive, legally binding, worldwide climate deal to combat global warming and protect food security. “It’s the women and the poor whom climate change hits the hardest, yet they have few opportunities to overcome those impacts.”
Agricultural and environmental thought leaders talked to FutureFood 2050 this month about the tactics they feel will be most effective in growing food production and slowing global warming:
- Bruce Campbell: Global agriculture researcher who’s helping implement climate-smart agriculture programs in the developing world
- Daniel Glickman: Former head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), who champions more agricultural research on climate change both in the United States and globally
- Bianca Jagger: Environmental campaigner dedicated to restoring forest landscapes as a vital component of climate-smart agriculture
- Ibrahim Mayaki: CEO of an African Union group that’s pushing for new climate-smart agriculture policies on the continent
- Susan McCouch: Cornell University plant geneticist who sees weeds as part of the solution for adapting crops to thrive in hotter climates
- Kathleen McLaughlin: Walmart senior vice president of sustainability, who’s leading the company’s newly launched climate-smart agriculture initiative for its supply chain
FutureFood 2050 is a multi-year program highlighting the people and stories leading the efforts in finding solutions to a healthier, safer and better nourished planet to feed 9 billion-plus people by 2050. Through 2015, the program will release 75 interviews with the world’s most impactful leaders in food and science. The interviews with climate change thought leaders are the 13th installment of FutureFood’s interview series, following sustainability, women in food science, food waste, food security and nutrition in Africa, aquaculture, futurists on food, innovative agriculture Parts 1 and 2, kitchens of the future, obesity, alternative proteins, and food safety.
Early next year, FutureFood 2050 will also debut a documentary film exploring how the science of food will contribute solutions to feeding the world. Here’s a behind-the-scenes interview with the film’s director.
For more information, please visit FutureFood2050.com to subscribe to monthly updates, learn more about the project and read the latest news on food science.
Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.