Join Farmers Guardian's food security debate - October 7

WHAT should the role of farmers be in feeding the world? 

As the world’s population bulges, while its resources become scarcer and the threat of climate change looms ever larger over its future, the food security question is dividing scientists, farmers and politicians.

Is the priority maximising food production on available land in a way that minimises environmental damage and embraces scale, targeted use of inputs and new technologies like GM? 

Or is the answer an extensive model of food production that nourishes the soil for future generations and shifts demographics by employing more people on the land?

Mainstream or organic? Sustainable intensification or agroecology?

However it is phrased, the outcome of this debate has huge implications for how will farmers operate and how food is produced over the next few decades.

Join us at 1pm on Friday, October 7, on this website for the next in our CropWorld Global 2011 internet debates when we will be putting these questions to a panel of experts, including:

  • Professor Ian Crute, AHDB chief scientist who contributed to the Foresight report.
  • Hans Herren, director of the Millennium Institute, and a leading advocate of agroecology.
  • Peter Kendall, NFU president.
  • Colin Tudge, biologist and writer who fronts the Campaign for Real Farming.

As ever you can join in and ask questions, too.                                  

Readers' comments (3)

  • Surly it's the increased population that is the issue & not how we should continue to rape the planet in order to feed the human parasite we have become of global resources.

    Addressing global population is the major issue we must face in order to avoid a total colaps of the planets ability to provide the basics of life, food, water, soil & oxygen.

    This premis is based upon almost 40 years working within the organic horticultural sector & observations within my global travels.

    Ric Bowers
    Head of International Development
    Principal Horticulturla Consultant
    Abacus Organic Associates
    Now based in Kampala Uganda

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  • We have got to put organic matter back into our soils, globally as well as nationally.

    Since 1950 we have been using the stored energy of hydrocarbons, (oil and gas predominantly) to produce food energy. The consquents of this has been a population explosion and the loss of organic matter (carbon) from the soil. It is estimated that between 50-80% of the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere comes from soil oxidisation.

    At the same time we have created soils that now require the increasingly expensive hydrocarbon energy to function at all. A majority of energy (the exception being nuclear and tidal) comes ultimately from the sun. Before the use of hydrocarbon energy to produce food energy, agriculture depended directly on the suns energy through the use of legumes and rotations. This maintained organic matter levels, locking up carbon in the soil, enabling the soil to hold water and nutrients and thus support following crops.

    We today, every single one of us, are a product of hydrocarbons. We are literally made from oil and we feed on oil. The implication of this are obvious. To give the human species a chance we have to return carbon to the soil and obtain food energy directly from the sun.

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  • Farming and farming systems have a huge a role to play, but so do communities. Food security is as much about diet and consumption as it is about production. For instance, I can't be the only one who thinks it's preverse to talk about the (futher) intensification of agriculture at the same time as generating millions of tonnes of food waste every year.

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