Good & evil: two articles on closing down the debate on GM crops

Is it right to call opponents of GM crops ‘wicked’? In a recent interview, Owen Paterson denounced in starkly moralistic language people whom he sees as holding up progress on Golden Rice and other genetically modified foods. In a piece for the Guardian’s Political Science blog, Andy Stirling argues in defence of scepticism and democracy…

The GM debate should not be closed down to what is rational, but opened up to multiple rationalities…. A response to Chris Whitty and colleagues

  By Stephen Whitfield, PhD student, Institute of Development Studies (Knowledge, Technology and Society Team) Genetically modified rice / BASF   In a recent commentary published in Nature, Chris Whitty (chief scientific adviser at the UK Department for International Development) and colleagues rightly argue that the (ever-rich and seemingly-unending) debate over genetically modified crops should…

World Food Day: The State of Food Insecurity in the World and the Need for Coordinated Action

By John Thompson and Jim Sumberg The three Rome-based agencies of the United Nations – the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – formally launched the 2012 edition of the annual State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) on World Food…

A NEW ALLIANCE FOR FOOD SECURITY, OR A TWO-TRACK AFRICA?

In a new post on the Future Agricultures Consortium blog, Ian Scoones examines the ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’, announced at a high-profile conference in Chicago last week – attended by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, three African Heads of State, Andrew Mitchell and others.“…will the initiative really deal with the underlying political economic…

LAND GRABS: CALL FOR NEW GRANT APPLICATIONS

By Julia Day, STEPS Centre Communications Manager Across the world, especially in the global South, there has been a dramatic rise in ‘land grabs’ – cross-border, transnational corporation-driven and, in some cases foreign government-driven, large-scale land deals. In-depth and systematic enquiry in to this issue has become a matter of urgency, and to that end,…

A NEW LEADER AND A NEW BEGINNING FOR THE UN FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANISATION?

By John Thompson, co-convenor, STEPS Centre food and agriculture domain and joint coordinator, Future Agricultures Consortium The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) chose Brazil’s José Graziano da Silva as its Director General, the first new leader in almost two decades as the world faces near-record food prices that are driving…

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY: THE G-20 ACTION PLAN ON FOOD PRICE VOLATILITY AND AGRICULTURE

By John Thompson, co-convenor, STEPS Centre food and agriculture domain and joint coordinator, Future Agricultures Consortium The Group of Twenty (G-20), comprised of the world’s 19 largest economies, plus the European Union, was created as a response both to the financial crises of the late 1990s and to a growing recognition that key emerging-market countries…

INEQUALITY AND FOOD: 10 TASKS FOR THE UK GOVERNMENT

by Erik Millstone, STEPS Centre Food and Agriculture co-convenor There are massive inequalities between industrialised and developing countries, and they have widened over the past 15 years, but there are also considerable inequalities within developing countries. There are consequently divergent interests, at least over the short term, between different groups within developing countries, and between…

FEEDING THE FUTURE? THE FORESIGHT REPORT ON FOOD AND FARMING

By John Thompson and Erik Millstone, STEPS Centre Food and Agriculture Co-Convenors A new report from the UK Government-commissioned study into Global Food and Farming Futures has called for urgent action to improve food security in the UK and around the world and to avert global hunger. The Foresight report on The Future of Food…

BEING “HEALTHILY SCEPTICAL” ABOUT BIOFORTIFICATION

Lawrence Haddad, IDS Director, has written about the future of biofortification (and mentioned the STEPS Centre’s work) on his blog, Development Horizons: “To date, biofortification has relied on conventional breeding techniques and behavior change research to answer 3 questions: (a) is there a significant, in terms of human nutrition, variation in the micronutrients zinc, iron,…