Innovation and collaboration essential to meeting food needs of growing global population

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AMES, Iowa. — The world’s agricultural producers must benefit from both innovation and collaboration to meet the demands of a growing population, James C. Borel, executive vice president of DuPont, told attendees at the 2011 Carl and Marjory Hertz Lecture on Emerging Issues in Agriculture at Iowa State University.

The Carl and Marjory Hertz Lecture on Emerging Issues in Agriculture was created in memory of the founders of Hertz Farm Management to inspire generations of industry leaders, research scientists and young professionals to reach their full potential.

Increasing food production is a key priority for DuPont.  Borel addressed the challenge and solutions to help agriculture ensure global feast rather than famine by mid-century.

Global population is expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050, which will require the world’s farmers to basically double agricultural production by that time, he said.  The wide gap in productivity between the developed and developing world, along with a pattern of food shortages and price spikes in recent years, make the challenge of meeting future food needs even more daunting and something we need to be concerned with now. 

“The world’s food crisis will not be solved only by farmers in the United States and the developed world,” said Borel.  “We need farmers in all parts of the world to succeed.”

Borel noted that, while agricultural productivity has made significant gains, even more improvement at a faster pace is necessary.  Solutions to tackle this challenge without bringing additional resources into the equation start with understanding farms and what is required for a farmer’s success.  Solutions may vary, depending on a farmer’s location and operation.

“Farmers in the developing world need a number of things to succeed, including access to modern scientific technologies, financing and credit, viable markets, strong civil society and the advantages of shared infrastructure – from roads to wireless networks,” said Borel.  “Addressing aging transportation systems and shifts in agriculture education and public research investment is critical for farmers in the developed world to succeed.

“We can meet the global challenges of food, but only if we embrace contributions from farmers everywhere; if we empower collaboration, if we ensure that farmers can choose the seeds and other products that work best for them and if we enhance the ability of farmers in all parts of the world to be as productive as possible.” said Borel. 

Borel provided examples of where innovation and collaboration are at work today, including research collaborations with public universities, such as Iowa State; and education outreach programs, such as the Global 4-H Network, to foster an understanding, knowledge and passion for agriculture in today’s youth.

“Today we face a real and looming challenge, but also real opportunity that will take collaboration at levels that we have never seen before from industry, academia, government, NGO’s and producers to be successful,” said Borel.  “But I think of agriculture as the optimistic science, because I believe through innovation and collaboration, we can do what the world needs us to get done.”

DuPont is a science-based products and services company.  Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere.  Operating in more than 90 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.


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