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2020-10-14

Interview with Georg Mayerhofer Farmer in Ortenburg/Bavaria

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2020-10-14

Commentary: The acceptance of alternative proteins, by Verena Jungbluth Editor-in-Chief | Head of Veganism at the German Animal Welfare Association

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2020-09-28

Science Week Podcast with Stephan Becker-Sonnenschein is online

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2020-09-01

Interview with Dr. Christina Kuchendorf, researcher and project coordinator at the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, IBG-2, at Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

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2020-09-01

Commentary: The acceptance of alternative proteins

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21 March 2019 | 2nd conference day



The second conference day was opened by Bernhard Krüsken, Secretary General of the German Farmers' Association. His speech pointed out the question: "Urban farming and classical agriculture - competition or partnership", which he answered very clearly: Partnership. For him, it is a matter of peaceful coexistence and mutual complementarity between the two production methods.

The speakers went on:

Bernhard Krüsken, Secretary General of the German Farmers' Union

Bernhard Krüsken, General Secretary of the German Farmers’ Union opened the second day of the Global Food Summit with his presentation on “Urban Farming and Classical Agriculture – Competition or Partnership”. He pointed out the role of classical agriculture in Germany and in that context, addressed the potential of urban farming. Germany has approximately 16.6 million hectares of agricultural land, most of which is used for the cultivation of cereals. This cannot be covered by urban farming in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, he suggested that traditional agriculture and innovative urban farmers can collaborate in a partnership model and complement each other. 


Bernhard Kowatsch, Head of the Innovation Accelerator, UN World Food Programme

Bernhard Kowatsch highlighted some initiatives of the Innovations Accelerator of the UN World Food Programme and described its importance in enabling change in food systems, especially in the developing parts of the world. Emphasizing the fact that almost every second person on the planet today has access to the internet, he called for increasing internet-based technological innovation in ending the problem of world hunger. He cited examples of startups from Africa that are being supported by the Innovation Accelerator and showcased their work in the areas like growing food in impossible places and local fodder production using hydroponic farming. He also emphasized on the fact that programmes like the Innovation Accelerator not only act as investment opportunities for these ideas, but also as a bridge between technology and knowledge transfer between developed and developing countries. 

Michael Binder, Director, Sustainability Development, Evonik Industries

Michael Binder started by briefly speaking about the intersection of the planetary boundaries and the Sustainable Development Goals being the centre for all the transformation necessary in the food system. He then went on to highlight examples of industry-based solutions in making food systems more sustainable. An important highlight from his presentation was the central idea that everything has a price and that is it important to achieve the right balance while selecting solutions for food sustainability. He gave the example of salmon aquaculture systems that, on the one hand, combat salmon over fishing, but on the other, contribute to several negative environmental impact on land. He also presented some surveys of consumer perception towards meat alternatives derived from plants and mentioned that there is a strong case for its future. He summarised his presentation by stating that there is a lot of hard work in choosing the right solutions at the right time. 

Justus Wesseler, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy at Wageningen University 

Professor Justus Wesseler from Wageningen University presented on the topic of urban farming and the changing trends in agriculture. He pointed out that major developments in the sector are taking place in areas like clean meat, aquaculture, vertical farming, insect cultivation and meat substitutes. Regarding these new developments, he mentioned that they are currently in a nascent stage, they do not have acceptability among the masses, and that there are still several unresolved issues around health and safety of these new methods of food production. However, he was confident that these technologies will soon come to scale and gain mass acceptance in the future. But at the same time, he warned that these new technologies will bring several new problems like the necessary change in infrastructure and the realignment of the workforce engaged in conventional food production. He emphasized on the importance of policy level discussions and decisions in order to bring a fruitful transition.

Nannan Dong, Associate Professor, College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CUAP), Tongji University, Shanghai, China

Nannan Dong presented on the topic of rooftop greening projects in China. His presentation brought forth several examples of vertical and rooftop farming as well as urban agriculture in China and explained the various use-cases of these methods. The most prominent projects of rooftop gardens in China are funded by the government and are usually undertaken on the top of educational, cultural, commercial and office buildings. He also explained the concept of village revitalization that is currently in-trend in China as an alternative for city-dwellers in this age of online food delivery and mobile internet. He mentioned that while there are a plethora of projects in China, more clarity is required on the uses of such projects around issues like monetization and produce ownership. 

Henk Wolfert, Programme Manager, Amsterdam Advanced Metropolitan Solutions Institute (AMS)

Henk Wolfert presented his organization, Amsterdam Advanced Metropolitan Solutions Institute (AMS) and highlighted its organizational structure and some of the projects undertaken in the field of food and circular economy. AMS works on three fronts; namely, education, research and data collection. Amongst the six areas of focus, their metropolitan food systems departments undertakes projects that explore whether a modern city region is capable of producing food consumed by its citizens. Their projects tackle three basic aspects of the food supply chain - urban food production, local-to-local food distribution and the diet of urban consumers. In his presentation, Dr Wolfert highlighted some of the projects from these areas. Notable ones were the upcoming Flevo Campus in Almere region of Amsterdam, a vertical farming project to reuse an old prison and evidence based food system design. 


Cathy Kennedy and Barbara Swartzentruber, City of Guelph, Canada

Cathy and Barbara presented their vision for the city of Guelph in Canada's Ontario region to become Canada's first circular food economy. Their vision for food circularity was born out of the national level competition for Smart Cities Challenge launched in Canada. Their focus on the food sector was inspired by the fact that food brings people together and is the soul of the society, and because they are based in an agricultural region. By 2025, the city of Guelph aims to achieve their 50x50x50 campaign - 50% increase in access to affordable, nutritious food, 50 new business and collaboration opportunities in the food sector, and 50% increase in economic revenues by reducing and reimagining food waste. They intend to create a system level change through initiatives like the Circular Food Economy Innovations Hub, the Harvest Impact Fund and skills and training for the new food economy. 

Peter Verstrate, CEO, Mosa Meat

Peter began by sharing the story behind the inspiration to make cultured meat commercially viable. Mosa Meat started its journey in 2013 when they unveiled the world's first slaughter-free hamburger at a press conference in London. Since then, they have made several scientific breakthroughs and brought down the price of meat considerably. They are now focussed on scaling up process and getting their first products in the market in 3-4 years. Peter also answered several important questions around health-related issues and potential harmful effects of consuming cultured meat. He also mentioned that he does not anticipate any issues in obtaining regulatory licences from the EU and that it does not qualify as GMO.


Andreas Bluethner, Director, Food Fortification and Partnership, BASF

Andreas Bluethner is Director of the Food Fortication initiative at BASF. BASF implements several fortication programmes in Africa. Andreas explained that 53% of the African population lack Vitamin A. In order to tackle such problems, he mentioned that food fortification is a shared value business and partnership model. He further explained how urbanization is going to increase considerably in developing countries and that it will be combined with an increase in poverty and malnutrition. Moreover, he emphasized on the importance of providing the right nutrition to children under the age of five years after which there would be permanent damages to the body. In this regard, and especially in Africa, food fortification has a high potential for scaling up in urban areas in developing countries. 

Georg Schirrmacher, Managing Director, Co-Location Centre (CLC) Central in Munich, EIT Food

Georg Schirrmacher called for disruptive innovations in the food sector and highlighted the role of EIT Food's initiatives in enabling young ventures in this sector through investments to bring their technologies to the market. EIT Food is the biggest consumer-centric, open science innovation ecosystem and is building a strong base necessary to bring about change in the food system. He emphasized on the problems like the existence of fragmented supply chains, the lack of food transparency and the lack of entrepreneurial culture. There is a growing need for new companies bringing disruptive innovation to the market. Currently, only 3 out of 10 companies are able to bring their technologies to the market. EIT is aimed at creating an innovative space for solving the really complex societal challenges. He also highlighted how EIT Food connects the young ventures to well-established businesses as well as research and academia. In 2018, EIT Food has tangible results in terms of innovative prototypes, new startups and new business creation. 

S M Abdul-Awal, Professor, Department of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Khulna University, Bangladesh

Dr Abdul-Awal presented on the current situation of the Bangladesh economy vis-a-vis its agricultural sector and highlighted the need for agricultural alternatives in Bangladesh. He showcased a documentary on the FAO recognised heritage method of floating farms that is commonly practised in Bangladesh as a form of sustenance in the wake of rising floods, storms and other natural calamities due to climate change. Given the harmful effects of climate change on the agricultural economy of Bangladesh, he emphasized on the need for government level initiatives to promote alternative farming methods in the country.

Alexander Franke, Manager, Business Development and Innovation, K+S Kali GmbH

Alexander Franke presented K+S's support to initiatives in urban farming and how they see diversifying their business opportunities as a natural way to stay relevant to the changing landscape of agriculture. In 2017, K+S reformulated its corporate strategy taking into account the changing trends and the future possibilities in the food and agriculture sector. Being primarily a company that supports conventional agriculture through the sale of fertilisers, they decided to convert the future threats to business into opportunities by foraying into urban farming innovation. K+S establishes innovation labs where topics like urban farming and vertical farming are researched. He highlighted K+S's urban farming app that provides users information about what kind of urban farming ventures exist around them. He mentioned how Singapore is an interesting city where urban farming potential is very high and also showcased K+S's initiatives in urban farming in Singapore.

A summary of the speakers at the Global Food Summit can be found here.

The speaker's presentations can be found here: 20190404-182549-21-03-19.zip