It is anticipated that by 2050 global food production will need to feed over nine billion people. At the same time we also need to drastically reduce carbon emissions in order to avoid the catastrophic impacts that would accompany a rise in global temperature of just two degrees Celsius.
When set against today’s failure to feed seven billion and the pressure food production is placing on land and the environment, a grim picture of the grand challenge facing civilization emerges.
This begs the question: How do we minimize environmental destruction while increasing production?
On 14th of November Harold Schmitz, Chief Science Officer at Mars, attended the Global Food Summit on Sustainable Abundance in Nashville, Tennessee. There, he chaired a discussion lead by experts from the fields of business, government, NGOs, research and finance on the role each plays in delivering the innovation necessary to achieve sustainable, abundant, nutritious food for all.
The event was the inaugural conference of the Global Food Summit Series, a program of international symposia over the next three years that leads up to the Sustainable Food Pavilion, one of the exciting thematic pavilions that will house exhibitions onsite at Expo Milano 2015.
Expo Milano 2015 is the next scheduled iteration of the Universal Exposition world fair, following 2010’s Expo in Shanghai. Each event follows a theme, with Expo Milano’s being “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. The event will reach a global audience of over a billion and it is expected that 22 million people will visit the site over the six months of the Expo to see the array of themed pavilions.
The Sustainable Food Pavilion is being constructed by not-for-profit organization the Sustainable Food Project with the aim of using the thematic building as a neutral convener for cross sector collaboration and a showcase to bring the food sustainability challenge directly to the millions of expected visitors. It is hoped that every visitor to the Sustainable Food Pavilion gains a better understanding of the basic food issues we face as a society.
The goal is to facilitate cross-sector discussions about the challenges, innovations and strategies to feed every person on earth safely, nutritiously and abundantly by building an emerging consensus among leaders for the collaboration needed to produce abundant food.
The Summit Series is intended to provide a forum for world-renowned experts, scientists and industry leaders in nutrition, food production, distribution and sustainability to share their latest thinking shape and inform the goals and agenda to be pursued at the Sustainable Food Pavilion. Howard Shapiro, Mars’ Global Director of Plant Science and External Research, serves on the organizing committee for the Summit and Expo Milano 2015.
Harold’s session, which opened the event, was entitled “Innovation Conversation – Breakthrough Abundance” and he began the session with a presentation to the international audience on the responsibility and role of business in meeting the challenge of feeding the planet sustainably and the science and innovation-led approach Mars takes.
During his presentation, Harold refined the question posed in the opening of the article to the more pointed: “How do we establish a global strategic imperative and strategy for integrating the long-term interests of business and society to meet this challenge?”
The answer he suggests is in securing a global imperative to drive uncommon collaborations across sectors and disciplines and ensuring science and technology plays the central role behind an innovation-led strategy.
Harold ended the session pondering, “It is said that we are what we eat. But it will be what we grow, and how we grow it, that will decide whether we, as a civilization, will be eating at all or not.”
To mark the event, Harold was asked to write an opinion piece for The Tennessean to further share his thoughts. You can read his insights as published here (subscription required in some instances). Also, look out for the video filmed of Harold’s session at the Summit on the Mars Facebook profile and YouTube channel.
About Mars, Incorporated
In 1911, Frank C. Mars made the first Mars candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen and established Mars’ roots as a confectionery company. In the 1920s, Forrest E. Mars, Sr. joined his father in business and together they launched the MILKY WAY® bar. In 1932, Forrest, Sr. moved to the United Kingdom with a dream of building a business based on the objective of creating a “mutuality of benefits for all stakeholders” – this objective serves as the foundation of Mars, Incorporated today. Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has net sales of more than $30 billion, six business segments including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, Symbioscience, and more than 70,000 Associates worldwide that are putting its Principles into action to make a difference for people and the planet through its performance.
Mars brands include: Petcare – PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, WHISKAS®, KITEKAT®, BANFIELD® Pet Hospital and NUTRO®; Chocolate – M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY® and TWIX®; Wrigley – DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT® and 5™ chewing gums, SKITTLES® and STARBURST® candies, and ALTOIDS® AND LIFESAVERS® mints. Food – UNCLE BEN’S®, DOLMIO®, EBLY®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® and ROYCO®; Drinks – ALTERRA COFFEE ROASTERS™, THE BRIGHT TEA COMPANY™, KLIX® and FLAVIA®; Symbioscience – COCOAVIA™, WISDOM PANEL™ and SERAMIS®.
For more information, please visit www.mars.com. Follow us: facebook.com/mars, twitter.com/marsglobal, youtube.com/mars.