I had the privilege of being a panelist at last week’s Future Tense event, “Feeding the World While the Earth Cooks.” Some great talks were given, by the MC and Schmidt Family Foundation Fellow Mark Hertsgaard, among others, including a good panel with EcoAgriculture Partners President and agroecoally Dr. Sara Scherr, and Prof. Nina Federoff, molecular biologist, former science advisor to Hilary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice before her, and usually a strong GMO proponent. This conversation was very collegial, and Sara and Nina found much to agree upon–and Nina downplayed GMOs as just one tool among many to address our “food future.” I personally think they are far down the list in terms of tools for a variety of reasons, including the large yield increases possible by giving vitally needed basic support, and using agroecology, working with poor and small farmers, the landless, and rural workers. This point was made forcefully by, among others, Dr. Hans Herren later on in the event.
I’d also like to point out the “Where’s the Beef? Your Hamburger in 2050” session as another particularly good session, with Gabor Forgacs (pioneer in lab-cultured meat; Professor of Biological Physics, University of Missouri; Co-founder and CSO, Modern Meadow, Inc.), Graham Meriwether (@AmericanMeat; Director, Cinematographer and Producer, “American Meat”) and Dawn Moncrief (@awellfedworld, Founder and Executive Director, A Well-Fed World) in an interesting conversation integrating and contrasting veganism, vegeterianism, ethical omnivory and pastured meat, as compared to lab-cultured meat requiring the killing of no animals (but of limited implication for diversifying our food systems). As one can see from the link above, it is already up on Youtube as a video.
My panel (“The Quest for Food Justice in the Face of Finite Resources”, with Debra Eschmeyer, Co-Founder of FoodCorps and 2011 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award Recipient, and Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, Co-founder of the Fair Trade Federation and Director, Rural Enterprise Center, Main Street Project) is unfortunately not up as of this evening, but go over to the event page and look around and the many other great clips and great speakers. It was an interesting, engaging, and educational event, and lots of fun catching up with some old friends living in D.C. as well as hearing some very productive conversations between groups and people who might not regularly talk to each other, rather than at or past one another. A very promising and enlightening day.