The Role of Ecology in Achieving Global Food Security
Friday, August 14, 2015: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
309, Baltimore Convention Center
Mimi E. Lam, University of British Columbia
Alison Power, Cornell University
Food is needed to sustain life, yet 842 million people – one in eight – suffered from chronic hunger in 2011 – 2013. Eradication of global hunger and poverty by 2030 are among the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), yet with surging demands on the global food supply from a growing, affluent, yet socio-economically disparate human population and unprecedented changes in the global climate, achieving global food security is more challenging than ever. Issues of food security, which includes access to safe, nutritious, adequate, and culturally appropriate food, infuse the entire global food value chain. As the differential impacts of greenhouse-gas emissions from food production, trade, and consumption are increasingly experienced, food ethics dilemmas are becoming more salient, such as what food is produced, the methods of production and their side effects, who consumes the food and their effects on consumers, and the consequences of food production on human society, animal welfare, and the environment. Resource access, allocation, and trade decisions can trigger food security or insecurity, ecological sustainability or degradation, so an enhanced ecology of food systems is plangently needed to inform food policy and governance capable of feeding the global population without irreversibly damaging the environment. But what is the role of ecological science to help meet the SDGs and how can research, policy-making and practice be bridged to help achieve food security, in particular? In this symposium, presentations will overview global food systems, methodologies used to analyze their ecological and human impacts, and examine case studies of terrestrial and aquatic food production systems, including: agriculture, livestock, capture fisheries, and aquaculture. The ecological and health implications of sustainable intensification, pesticide use, and genetically engineered organisms will be discussed. Each speaker will be asked to comment on the role of ecological theory and rigorous ecological approaches in delivering sustainably intensified food systems to achieve global food security. Collectively, the presentations will also highlight the need for a new ecology of food that is inherently multidisciplinary and integrates the human dimensions, including risk assessments, values, and ethics, along with sustainability. The focus of the symposium will be on solutions and how to implement the systematic transformations that are needed. In the panel discussion, the audience will be invited to contribute their perspectives in developing an actionable agenda for ESA to contribute more constructively to food security policy and practice.