In connection with the Polish Presidency of the EU a group of leading academics led by Prof Tim Benton, UK, met in the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, to make a consensus statement on Europe as a key player in global food security. The team from across Europe covered expertise in agriculture, economics, sociology, environment, ecology, conservation, water and food consumption.
Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ was part of the group, who agreed that food security and agriculture should play a central role in European policies. Guaranteeing global food security needs cross-sectoral approaches combining agricultural production, environment, health and socio-economics, following the principles of sustainable intensification.
“While biotechnology may play a role in global food security it is unlikely to be the main solution”, the experts state. “Innovations and institutions concerning management of farming systems and agricultural landscapes in an environmentally sensitive way may well provide greater scope in addressing this issue globally.”
The recently started research project LEGATO (links below), which is coordinated by Josef Settele and his team, was developed exactly along these lines and according to this philosophy. “There is convincing evidence that sustainable intensification really is a way to move forward – e.g. by using the so called ‘ecological engineering’ approach as done in LEGATO for irrigated rice production in South-East Asia” says Settele.
There also was consensus that the EU should maintain its productive agricultural land in order to meet future food demands, whether for the EU or the rest of the world.