A collaborative approach to promoting food security following 2021 Crawford Fund Food and Nutrition Security - The Biosecurity, Health, Trade Nexus
Blog prepared by Hayley Pfeifer, University of Adelaide/ Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia.
The 2021 Crawford Fund Food and Nutrition Security conference was an excellent opportunity to encourage robust thoughts, consideration and compelling discussion on critical issues relating to biosecurity, heath and trade within our country and trade partners.
As discussed by Professor Prabhu Pingali from Tata Cornell Institute, our world has faced many challenges over the years in which we have learnt a great deal from, however as we continue toward globalisation from 2021 onwards, we are faced with unique challenges that threaten the sustainability and supply of our food systems. Globalisation is leading to an increase in integration between countries with the demand for particular foods and competitive advantage facilitating trade partnerships. However, this has also left us vulnerable to rapid spread of pests and disease with little time to mitigate risks or develop contingency plans. Further to this issue, as our climate becomes warmer and more favourable for the survival of many organisms that threaten our food systems across the world, we see a further increase in the prevalence and significant risk to our food supply as our population continues to grow. A point that Professor Pingal highlighted that particularly resonated with me was the notion of a ‘One health approach’ combining plant, animal and encouraging each other to work together to solve these problems.
On another note, the talk by Rob Khan from Corteva, provided great insight into how the private sector is assisting in developing technologies to assist farmers to mitigate their risks and solve problems. I’m sure we all agree that prevention is better than cure, however in addressing the nature of our changing world and the rapid development we are experiencing, sometimes we need to react and our scientists, researchers and educators play a pivotal role in implementing their findings and technologies into farms to secure a positive outcome. Khan also highlighted the employee’s involvement in corporate social responsibility and how as employees, our personal values often encourage companies to do better in helping to provide better outcomes for those who need it most.
Importunately, Professor Andrew Robinson from the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis, highlighted the significance of Biosecurity for our food systems and food supply with an excellent analogy using Game of Thrones to drive home his point – I don’t think I’ll forget that one in a hurry! His presentation explained the multilateral approach to biosecurity that requires remaining up to date on threats that are occurring elsewhere worldwide, managing current risks and mitigating it through intervention strategies, gaining as much knowledge on potential biosecurity threats before they arrive and using our technology developments to control what our science has allowed us to control so far.
My main takeaway from the conference is that biosecurity threats to our country and developing world is real and we have imminent challenges ahead of us. The agreed consensus between speakers on the day was that a collaborative approach is essential in maximising information availability and integration between countries to assist us in making better and more successful decisions to manage and mitigate threats as we are faced by them.
I am so grateful and appreciative to learn and be involved in the ever-important conversation about our food systems. I have left the conference feeling inspired and excited about my future, knowing I have the guidance of some incredible industry leaders while working alongside some promising talent in solving our food system issues.