Food systems need to be transformed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This has been intensively discussed during this year, with dialogues in many countries leading up to the Food Systems Summit, at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 23.
The challenges ahead of us are many and they are huge. Food systems need to become more sustainable in all dimensions – socially, economically, and environmentally. The negative impact on climate from food production and consumption must decrease, at the same time as agriculture, industry, retailing and consumption need to mitigate and adapt to new conditions. Climate change is already seriously hurting the food systems.
In many parts of the world agriculture is a low-income business. Incomes for farmers must increase; living conditions in rural areas must improve. More output with less input is necessary. Besides good agricultural practices, this requires crops with improved water efficiency and better resistance to pests and diseases. Losses during storage, transport and processing must be reduced. From a consumer perspective, in many parts of the world, we see an increase in malnutrition and even starvation. This development must be curbed. There is also a need for food with better nutritious qualities. There is not one solution, there must be many, but there can be no doubt that investments in research and plant breeding will be very important.
This seminar will put gene editing within plant breeding into its context in different parts of the world – with a special focus on the European Union – and focus on how these tools can contribute to improved food systems.