2006 Global Farmer Roundtable

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Participants:

Moderator – Manjit Misra (Director – Iowa State University-based BIGMAP)

Argentina – Ignacio Uranga
Australia – Jeff Bidstrup
Brazil – Luiz Marcos Suplicy Hafers (1935-2016)
Burkina Faso – Diasso Dramane
Canada – Lorne Hamblin, Kevin Hamblin
France – Claude Menara, Pascal Coquin
Italy – Marco Aurelio Pasti
Kenya – Samuel Kamau Njiba
Mexico – Guillermo Gastelum
Philippines – Rosalie Ellasus
Romania – Gheorge Lucian Buzdugan
South Africa – Thandiye Myeni
Spain – Jose Manuel Pomarsasot
United States:
Iowa – Reg Clause, Bill Horan, Dean Kleckner
New Jersey – John Rigolizzo
North Dakota – Terry Wanzek

October 18-20, 2006, the World Food Prize celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a Gala Anniversary Celebration and Symposium in Des Moines, IA. The theme of the Symposium – ‘The Green Revolution Redux: Can we replicate the single greatest period of food production in all human history?’ was held in honor of Dr. Norman Borlaug, featuring presentations by renowned international experts including 11 former World Food Prize Laureates.

In coordination with the World Food Prize Foundation, Truth About Trade and Technology hosted the first annual Global Farmer Roundtable on Wednesday, October 18. Twenty-two farmers representing 14 countries participated in the by-invitation-only one-day event. Facilitated by Manjit Misra, Director – Iowa State University-based BIGMAP (Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products), the discussion covered topics that included:

  • How can the World Food Prize Symposium theme be achieved if farmers have access to technology, including biotechnology?
  • What is your personal experience relating to biotechnology?
  • Are there barriers to technology that exist? What can farmers do to overcome these barriers and secure access to new technology
  • Are there specific resources needed that would be useful in removing barriers and improving access?
  • Are there opportunities for collaboration among global farmers that will improve access to technology for all?

Points of consensus reached regarding the current situation in global agriculture as it relates to access to technology, include the following:

  • Barriers to technology are often politically based
  • There is a strong and correlated relationship between food and peace – hungry people are angry
  • Access to technology, including biotechnology, is needed to alleviate world hunger – producing more healthier food, enhancing the quality of life- economically, environmentally, socially
  • Misinformation is a problem
  • Based on fear – misunderstanding – sometimes based on greed
  • We must delineate between and focus on our ‘circles of influence” as opposed to our ‘circles of concern’
  • Personal experience and a shared vision is key – farmers continue to be viewed and accepted as credible
  • Timely response is necessary – agility is key

The following key summary and action points were highlighted:

  • As farmers we must proactively promote access to technology – emphasizing the benefits, not just the risk
  • Building partnerships across borders is key
  • Identify and collaborate with like-minded individuals and organizations around the world, sharing data, analysis and anecdotal experience
  • Communication is important
  • Non-technical messages are necessary. We must speak to the house wives, those who purchase the food for our families and the environmental audience – placing a ‘human face’ on the message from those who produce our food
  • We must identify, educate and work with all players in the food system – producers to retailers to consumers
  • We give consumers the right to choose – our message must support that same right for farmers
  • The message is more effective when fully understood. Translation into key languages will be helpful and is needed.
  • Create an International award – Friend of Biotech
  • Presented annually to a farmer who exemplifies a significant and positive attitude toward access to technology in agriculture – uses it in his own operation – and has done exemplary work to expand access to technology for farmers around the world