Last week, Alistair Hide, Monsanto’s Corporate Affairs Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, attended the FAO/WHO-led International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in Rome. The event was a follow-up to the first FAO/WHO-led conference on nutrition held in 1992.
Held under the United Nations umbrella, the conference was convened to address malnutrition on a global scale, and agree on a framework for global action. Malnutrition–once more commonly associated with developing countries–concerns both lack of nutrition and obesity, and is seen as key to the war on non- communicable diseases (which are non- infectious and non- transmissible) in both developing and developed countries.
Representatives from over 170 countries committed to eradicating hunger and preventing all forms of malnutrition worldwide, under the ‘Declaration of Rome‘, and signed a ‘Framework for Action’ which outlined 60 interventions including strategies, programmes, policy recommendations and long-term investments aimed at eradicating hunger, achieving global food security, and ensuring that all people have access to healthier and sustainable diets.
Agriculture is central to solutions on malnutrition, and it was clear that agriculture will play a vital role in achieving the framework’s aims.
Half of the world’s population is affected by inadequate diets due to the lack of sufficient vitamins and minerals in their diets. Though global levels of hunger have dropped on average by 7 percent since the 1990s (ccording to the Global Hunger Index 2013) more than 800 million people still go hungry every day and a large number of others lack basic nutrients in their food.
Additionally, climate change, soil erosion and deficiency in natural resources make it harder– if not impossible–to enhance food supply for the rapidly growing population, and the use of traditional agricultural methods alone will not bridge that gap.
Food systems are key to promoting healthy diets, ensuring food availability and accessibility, and the effective and sustainable utilisation of our natural resources. By incorporating nutrition objectives into agricultural policy, and through the implementation of innovative agricultural programmes, governments and other food supply stakeholders can play a clear role in to facilitating healthy diets and ensuring food security.
At Monsanto, we have long been committed to providing solutions to issues of malnutrition by developing better seeds and systems to help farmers with productivity on the farm and to growing more nutritious food, while conserving natural resources. We’re proud to be a sustainable agriculture company–both in terms of environmental sustainability and food systems sustainability–and we’re committed to being part of the myriad of solutions to addressing the challenge of global malnutrition.
The ICN2 conference demonstrated the potential for how much can be achieved when all stakeholders are at the table, and how, by addressing these challenges together, we can we can take concrete steps towards the eradication of global malnutrition and undernutrition. We look forward to continuing and expanding our work with governments and stakeholders in tackling this ever-growing challenge.