European food and agricultural strategy for 21st century

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There are obvious differences in quality of life in terms of food availability, access to fresh water, disease prevalence and medicine across many parts of the world. Until recently, the notion of the Third World had a far greater poignancy than the politically correct term “developing world”. While labelling the poorer nations as somehow separate from the West (the First World) and the old communist bloc (Second World) may have somehow eased the consciences of some, the term developing belies the true nature of life across the globe for billions of people. For those of us in Europe, the potential for surplus food production (cucumbers and bean sprouts aside), compared with current production and trade volumes as well as our well-off society ‘s desire to use land for non-agricultural purposes, such as biofuel production and sport, leisure and tourism, points to the possibility that there are two paths available to Europe. Such a suggestion to unlock the gate on Europe’s agricultural potential might, at first sight, seem to be mocking the dearth of clear paths ahead for many parts of the world. However, researchers in The Netherlands suggest that Europe can, and must, assume an active role in world food security by using its surplus potential to correct the food deficit in Asia, one of the most troubled regions. It can also use its agricultural prowess to lead agriculture in Latin America towards a sustainable path and to support overall agricultural development in Africa. Prem Bindraban and Rudy Rabbinge of Wageningen University and Research Centre suggest that the prospects for the coming decades for European agriculture are “so favourable that there is little need to introduce agro-energy or heavy subsidy measures to stimulate or revitalise agricultural development within its territory.”

Period16 Jun 2011

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