“Agriculture faces dual challenges: becoming more sustainable on a dwindling resource base while having to feed an increasing number of people,” Paul Polman, CEO of consumer goods company Unilever, and David Servitje, CEO of baking company Group Bimbo, who serve as co-chairs of the G20’s B-20 Food Security Task Force, write in a Washington Post opinion piece, adding, “To provide food and nutrition security in the coming decades will require a major and sustained effort by all stakeholders, including business.” They continue, “The good news is that food security is firmly on the political agenda of the Group of Eight, the Group of 20 and at this week’s U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). And business has been invited to contribute.”
Private Sector Involvement
Discussing the meeting of G20 leaders taking place this week in Los Cabos, Mexico, the Financial Times states, “Food security, long only a concern for aid advocates and farming ministers, is now hotly debated among G20 leaders.” Though food prices have stabilized recently, they are much higher than in the past, causing widespread food insecurity and leading to about one billion chronically hungry people worldwide, the newspaper notes. The “initial reaction” of the G20, and the G8, was to supply emergency food aid, “[b]ut as the era of high food prices appears to be here to stay, the focus of the G20 is slowly shifting from fighting the emergency to addressing the long-term problem,” the Financial Times writes.
U.N. Food And Agriculture Agencies Urge G20 To Increase Efforts To Fight Hunger; G20 Launches AgResults Initiative
As G20 leaders wrapped up their meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Tuesday, the U.N. food and agriculture agencies — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) — issued a joint statement “call[ing] on them to redouble their efforts to fight hunger” and “welcom[ing] the priority given to food and nutrition security at the summit,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The agencies “noted that food security is closely linked to other issues on the agenda of G20 — such as infrastructure development and restoring growth in countries in crisis” — and emphasized the role of partnerships in improving food security, according to the news agency. The “agencies also welcomed the continuing recognition by the G20 of the pivotal role of smallholder agriculture to global food security and to boosting productivity in a sustainable manner,” the news agency writes (6/19).
In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog, Deputy Editor Tom Murphy discusses the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative, which “support[s] the aggressive reduction of maternal mortality in countries with the highest mortality rates.” He notes that the “founding partners include the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI), Merck for Mothers, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), Every Mother Counts (EMC), and the Government of Norway,” and that they have pledged $200 million over five years. Murphy outlines the objectives of the initiative and highlights some of the comments made at its launch last week during the Child Survival Call to Action summit (6/19).
“Following the launch of the PLoS Medicine series on Big Food and the publication of the first three articles in the series last week,” Clare Weaver of the journal’s “Speaking of Medicine” blog interviews David Stuckler, a lecturer in sociology at the University of Cambridge and one of the guest editors of the series, about his research background and some of the issues related to the series. Some of the topics discussed include why it is “important that a major medical journal examine the food industry and its influence in global health,” why this is an international issue rather than one limited to developed countries, and what further research is needed in the area (6/25).
As the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — invest more in innovations in health technologies and other areas, “many are looking to these countries to correct the global health research and development (R&D) imbalance that leaves the poor without needed products such as an improved tuberculosis (TB) vaccine or tests to help diagnose patients in remote rural settings,” David de Ferranti, president of Results for Development Institute (R4D), writes in the Huffington Post Blog. Writing that “India, which has already played such an important role in manufacturing affordable antiretroviral drugs, vaccines, and other essential health commodities for developing countries,” de Ferranti asks whether India “is … ready to play a leading role in health R&D?”
In this post in the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, Rhonda Zygocki, executive vice president of policy and planning at Chevron, responds to questions about Chevron’s presence at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., last week, writing that such questions “give me an opportunity to talk about the critical role everyone plays in the global fight against this epidemic, including Chevron, as well as the ways collaborative partnerships will lead to the elimination of AIDS.” She highlights the company’s HIV prevention efforts, including a pledge last year of $20 million to the U.N.’s mission to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015, and continues, “Individuals, non-profit organizations, medical practitioners, representatives of governments, and companies from the private sector joined together in Washington, D.C., with the same vision: to create an HIV-free generation and eliminate AIDS around the world” (8/1).
Extreme weather is forcing grain and meat prices to rise, and food production will have to increase about 60 percent over the next 40 years to meet a growing world population, but “there are solutions to these daunting problems,” Catherine Bertini, former director of the U.N. World Food Programme and the 2003 World Food Prize laureate, and Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture, write in a Politico opinion piece. The authors, co-chairs of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Agricultural Development Initiative, say that in order to address these issues, “we should increase support for the agricultural researchers, in the U.S. and around the world, who are developing remarkable new drought and flood tolerant crop varieties”; make better use of arable land, especially in Africa; provide “farmers access to improved seeds, pesticides and fertilizers to boost productivity”; improve post-harvest infrastructure, including storage facilities; and “equip those working in agriculture, especially women, with the know-how to use newer technologies.”
Diagnostics company Cepheid on Monday signed deals with PEPFAR, USAID, UNITAID, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to immediately reduce the price of its Xpert MTB/RIF test kit for its GeneXpert tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic system in 145 countries, Reuters reports. “The agreements will see the test sold for $9.98, down from its current price of $16.86 per test,” the news service writes, adding, “Cepheid said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will make an initial payment of $3.5 million to make the test immediately available at the lower price” (Ail, 8/6).
“A global alliance to protect the world’s people from toxic lead, chromium, mercury, pesticides and other pollution has been formed by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, U.N. agencies, donor countries, foundations and non-government experts in July,” freelance journalist Ben Barber reports in this post in Huffington Post’s “Green” blog. “The Global Alliance for Health and Pollution (GAHP) aims to work together to protect the health of over one hundred million people in poor countries who are at risk from toxic pollution,” Barber writes, adding, “The group will work with governments to clean-up toxic hotspots where children, especially, are being poisoned. It could also respond to emergencies such as a recent lead poisoning outbreak in Nigeria that killed hundreds of children” (8/10).