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Who Will Feed Us in a Planet in Crisis?
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Monday, 27 May 2013, 14:30 - 16:30

Who Will Feed Us in a Planet in Crisis? The Agro-ecological Answer

Miguel A. Altieri
Professor of Agroecology, University of California, Berkeley

Venue: Meeting Room 1, UNU-IAS
Pacifico-Yokohama, 1-1-1 Minato Mirai
Nishi-ku, Yokohama

Photo: UNU-IAS

Event Description

"Greening" the green revolution will not be sufficient to reduce hunger and poverty and conserve biodiversity. The increasing cost of oil and fertilizers, and the deterioration of the climate and global ecology are key factors that undermine the capacity of humankind to feed itself. This phenomenon became evident when the "perfect storm" occurred in 2008 with the alarming rise in the cost of food that sent an additional 75 million people to the world’s line of hungry people.

Disregarding the above issues the ruling international agricultural elite continues asserting that food production will have to be increased by 70% by the year 2050. The threat to global food security is the direct result of the industrial model of agriculture characterized by large-scale monocultures tailored for the export markets. We need an alternative agricultural development paradigm that encourages more ecologically biodiverse, sustainable and socially just forms of agriculture.

There is a need for strategies that lead to the revitalization of small and medium sized farms, and point the way towards the reshaping of the entire agricultural policy and food system in ways that are economically viable to farmers and consumers. Currently proposed "sustainable intensification" in agriculture is ideologically buttressed by intellectual projects to reframe and redefine agroecology by stripping it of its political and social content and promoting the wrong notion that agro-ecological methods can co-exist alongside the aggressive expansion of transgenic crops and agrofuels. Many environmental and advocacy groups privilege those with access to capital and perpetuate an "agriculture of the poor for the rich". The technological determinism that the organic agriculture movement emphasizes, through development and dissemination of low-input or appropriate technologies, is not only naïve but also dangerous, as it assumes these technologies in themselves have the capability of initiating beneficial social changes.


14:30 Introduction
Raquel Moreno-Peñaranda (Research Fellow, UNU-IAS)
14:40 - 15:20

Who Will Feed Us in a Planet in Crisis?
Miguel A. Altieri (Professor of Agroecology, University of California, Berkeley)

15:20 - 15:30 Comments from Discussant
Clara I. Nicholls (Professor of Agroecology, Universidad de Antioquia (Colombia) and Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley)
15:30 - 16:15 Q&A
16:15 - 16:25 Closing Comments from Discussant
Clara I. Nicholls (Professor of Agroecology, Universidad de Antioquia (Colombia) and Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley)
16:25 - 16:30 Closing Remarks
Raquel Moreno-Peñaranda (Research Fellow, UNU-IAS/OUIK)

Video and Audio Podcasts

Raquel Moreno-Peñaranda (Research Fellow, UNU-IAS)
[Archived Video 2 minutes];

Who Will Feed Us in a Planet in Crisis?
Miguel A. Altieri (Professor of Agroecology, University of California, Berkeley)
[Archived Video-50 minutes];[Archived Audio-50 minutes]

Comments from Discussant
Clara I. Nicholls (Professor of Agroecology, Universidad de Antioquia (Colombia) and Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley)
[Archived Video-37 minutes];[Archived Audio-37 minutes]

[Archived Video-37 minutes];[Archived Audio-37 minutes]

Photo Gallery

Speaker's Biography

Miguel A. Altieri
holds a BS in Agronomy from the University of Chile and a PhD in Entomology from the University of Florida. He has been a Professor of Agroecology at the University of California, Berkeley since 1981. Prof. Altieri has served as a Scientific Advisor to the Latin American Consortium on Agroecology and Development (CLADES) (Chile) – an NGO network promoting agroecology as a strategy for small farm sustainable development in the region. He also served for 4 years as the General Coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme's Sustainable Agriculture Networking and Extension Programme, which aimed at capacity building on agroecology among NGOs and the scaling-up of successful local sustainable agricultural initiatives in Africa, Latin America and Asia. In addition he was the chairman of the NGO committee of the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) whose mission was to make sure that the research agenda of the 15 International Agricultural Research Centers benefited poor farmers. Currently he is advisor to the FAO-GIAHS programme (Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems), a programme devoted at identifying and dynamically conserving traditional farming systems. He is also Director of the US-Brazil Consortium on Agroecology and Sustainable Rural Development (CASRD), an academic-research exchange programme involving students and faculty of UC Berkeley, University of Nebraska, UNICAMP and Universidad Federal de Santa Catarina (Brazil). He is also President of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology. Prof. Altieri has authored over 250 publications, including widely used books: Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture and Pest Management in Agroecosystems and Agroecology and the Search for a Truly Sustainable Agriculture. Most of Prof. Altieri’s publications are available here.

Registration is free and open to the public. For further information, please contact UNU-IAS at
unuias[at]ias.unu.eduor 045-221-2300.

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