Saturday, 15 February 2014: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
Regency B (Hyatt Regency Chicago)African economies are now among the fastest growing in the world. By some estimates Africa's population may double to 2.3 billion people over the next 40 years with the transition from a rural to a predominantly urban society. Yet Africa still has 15 of the least developed nations in the world, many hundreds of millions of people remain hungry and in poverty, and food security and sustainability, health, and the possible effects of climate change are major issues. Importantly, agriculture currently employs close to 70 percent of the population with women playing the principal role, and nearly 60 percent of the world’s available arable land is in Africa. Food production must increase if it is to feed those hungry now and the rapidly growing population. While there is no single solution, recent advances in the biosciences and new genetic technologies can contribute. New traits can be rapidly incorporated, existing crops tailored to meet new requirements, and time and costs greatly reduced. Local crops can be made higher yielding, resistant to pests and drought, and more nutritious, and provide income to small-scale farmers. The symposium discusses the role of new technologies in economic transformation, examples of new genetics research on local crops, and work to ensure human and environmental biosafety, public communication, and preparation of the young as future farmers. Scientific and government policy viewpoints will be represented.
David J. Bennett, St. Edmund's College
Brian Heap, European Academies Science Advisory Council