Facing the challenges of the agriculture, food, water and energy nexus

On the premise that by 2050 the world will have a population of nine billion people, the OECD has declared a need to address the energy, water, food and agriculture nexus. More than 100 people gathered recently to discuss the role of biotechnology in addressing these issues and opportunities in food production.

Demand for food in Asia is likely to double between 2007 and 2050, with China accounting for almost half of the increased demand. Understanding the longer-term outlook for Australian industries will help businesses to improve productivity, exploit emerging opportunities and take advantage of changing demand in the Asian Century.

Guests heard from industry, academic and peak body leaders. Dr Graham Mitchell AO from Foursight Associates, who facilitated the event, said: “The technical challenges in the agriculture, food, water and energy nexus are matched by the social challenges; we know that ‘technological fixes’ are insufficient across this nexus of huge national and global importance.

“Without any doubt we are on the cusp of major advances in agricultural and environmental biotechnology but the translation to economic, social and environmental benefits will involve many partnerships including with communities who quite rightly expect that a deep and comprehensive understanding underlies all transformational technologies and not just ‘breathless advocacy’.

“It is up to us to ensure this is so and this worthy event enables us to debate the issues,” he said.

The AusBiotech event was sponsored and hosted by Deloitte. Speakers included:

Copies of presentations by the above speakers can be found here.

The speakers were then joined by Roma Bretnell (Warrnambool dairy farmer), Rock Hudson (chair AusBiotech Agricultural, Environmental and Industrial Committee) and Jason Crawford (Deloitte Partner) for a lively and insightful panel discussion.

Following on from the success of this event, AusBiotech plans to hold similar events around Australia early in 2014. If you are interested in attending or speaking, please contact Alina Tooley, national programs manager, on atooley@ausbiotech.org.

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