News Feature | November 15, 2013

Cargill Aims To Create A Food Secure World

Source: Food Online
Sam Lewis

By Sam Lewis, associate editor
Follow Me On Twitter @SamIAmOnFood

Earth

Company’s corporate VP lays out plans to serve one billion undernourished people worldwide

America’s largest privately owned company, Cargill, believes the company can make a difference in making sure no one on earth goes hungry. The company’s corporate VP, Todd Hall, explained Cargill’s three views to achieve this at the Provimi Animal Nutrition Seminar in Barcelona.

At the two day seminar, held Nov 13 and 14, Hall told a story about the market, saying that last year 1 billion people were undernourished, despite the world producing enough food to feed everyone. Hall believes the problem stems from inadequate distributing of food and the world’s current economics. “We just didn’t share it (food) with the outside world. In a ‘food secure world,’ people have access to safe and affordable food,” says Hall. Hall addresses the problem with three simple steps.

First, many speakers at the seminar mentioned increasing yield. Hall is no exception. However, Hall alludes to genetically modified organisms (GMO) being accepted in the European Union over the course of time, and perhaps even worldwide, as a partial solution. “If technology and culture collide, technology will win. GMO crops will have a smaller footprint,” says Hall. “We simply need to reach out and explain the benefits of these technologies. We need to gain society’s permission to use proven science.”

Food vs. fuel is the next issue Hall addresses. While feedstuffs used in making fuels did not consume all food for livestock, using them for feed rather than for fuel would help ease the food shortage. Rather than eliminating biofuels, Hall says a balance of both must be achieved. “We need to be lifting some mandates. If there is a drought, prices will go extremely high. We need to have flexible policies so that crops destined for biofuels can be converted into food,” says Hall.

Back in October, a proposal to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) policy on mixing popular biofuel ethanol with gasoline and diesel fuel was leaked. According to Reuters, “If approved, the proposed cut in the biofuel mandate in 2014 to 15.21 billion gallons from 18.15 billion would mark an historic retreat from the ambitious 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) law that charted a path toward ever-greater use of clean, home-grown fuel.” The proposal makes no mention of reducing the production of crops which create biofuels, leaving Hall’s idea of leaving the crops produced as animal feed a legitimate notion.

Finally, Hall mentions Africa. He calls the entire continent “a world to win.” Hall suggests that Cargill can develop Africa to create a sustainable food-supply on land that has seen little agriculture. “Cargill can help develop Africa by teaming up with governments, non-government organizations, and public-private partnerships,” claims Hall.

While wanting to create a world where no person goes hungry is a wonderful and philanthropic gesture, Hall may have oversimplified the idea. GMOs are currently under tremendous scrutiny with no sign of the debate between technology and culture ending soon. Hall wants to persuade the public into believing the benefits and safety of foods with GMOs, but some people will not sway their opinion, regardless of the argument for augmented foods. Biofuels may have lost popularity in recent years, but activists for sustainability and conservation of the environment won’t let biofuels derived from corn, a year-in, year-out surplus crop, go without a fight. Finally, developing Africa into a continent fit for agriculture is easier said than done. The topography is diverse; comprised of grasslands, mountains, grasslands, forests, and uninhabitable deserts.  Making deserts fertile for crops would be a nearly impossible task, and depleting a forest for farming would again most likely stir up the environmentalists, which may lead to preservation legislature. Cargill has good intentions in creating a food secure world, but the task at hand is not as cut-and-dry as the three simple steps suggest.

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