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Prince Charles Touts Locally Grown Agriculture

posted on May 6, 2011

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Feeding an estimated 9 billion people by 2050 remains a difficult task for those who produce the world's food. For some of the planet's population just getting food can be a daunting task.

While some believe the solution is hiding in the lab others think the answer can be found in ever increasing yields. And many more believe the answer can be found by implementing organic-style farming.

Nearly a decade ago - when asked if organic farming could replace conventional agriculture as a way to feed the world - Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug stated "We are 6.6 billion people now. We can only feed 4 billion. I don't see 2 billion volunteers to disappear."

But there are those who disagree with the man who is credited with saving nearly a billion lives -- Among them is England's Prince Charles.


Chester Gillis, Dean of Georgetown College: "Welcome to Georgetown. Ladies and gentlemen it's my pleasure to introduce his royal highness the Prince of Wales."

Hundreds of students, professors, and representatives of various agricultural interest groups descended on Washington this week for a royal speech pertaining to food policy and NOT wedding plans.

Prince Charles: "The world somehow must find the means to feed a staggering 219,000 mouths a day. That's about 450 since I started talking. With incomes rising in places like China and India there will be more people wealthy enough to consume more so the demand for meat and dairy products may well increase further. All that extra livestock will compete more and more with an energy sector that has massively expanded its demand for biofuels."

Charles, Prince of Wales, a consistent critic of genetically modified crops and strong proponent of organic agriculture, painted a bleak picture for domestic and foreign users of water.

Prince Charles: "The Ogallala aquifer on the Great Plains for instance is depleting by 1.3 trillion faster than rainfall can replenish it."

"By 2030, it is estimated that the world's farmers will need 45 percent more water than today. Some of these rivers never reach the ocean for part of year like the Colorado and the Rio Grande."

Visitors on hand for the Future of Food summit in Washington also heard a mix of questions and answers from organic and local food proponents – many of whom represent so-called "sustainable agriculture."

Mary Jordan, Washington Post: "There has been much talk about the centralization of big agriculture and power in the hand of a few producers. Is it realistic that we can go back to a few farmers."

Will Allen, CEO - Growing Power Inc. "Big ag hasn't fed the world. In 1960 they told us to grow corn and soybeans fence row to fence row and we're going to feed the world and farmers were going to be prosperous. We have more hunger in the world than ever before. The UN said a locally produced food system is the only way to feed the world. We know this system is not sustainable."

Much of the discussion centered on the future market share of organic versus production agriculture but food quality and caloric intake and overall health were also targeted.

Questioner: "Panera foods posts the number of calories on their menu and I decided not to buy the mac and cheese. Have you found a change in consumer behavior?

Ronald Shaich, Founder of Panera Foods: "We have seen modest movement. When we posted the caloric information, 80 percent of the consumers saw no change at all. The other 20 percent moved around modestly and adjusted their diet."

Despite a divergent mix of representatives from organic agriculture, some panelists and the keynote speaker Prince Charles praised portions of production agriculture.

In addition to a stream of production agriculture criticisms, the heir to the British royal throne outlined his vision for global food production and ironically proposes a tax-and-trade model similar to the United States ethanol industry.

Prince Charles: "In the way governments have stimulated the renewable energy market. Could this be applied to food? Is this worth considering? After all it could have a very powerful, transformative affect on the market for sustainably produced food with benefits all around."


Tags: agriculture biofuels crops genetic engineering news organic sustainability water