Global research consortium fights hunger

The executive director of an international agriculture research consortium says the fight against world hunger makes such an organization necessary. Elwyn Grainger-Jones with the CGIAR tells Brownfield the group of research institutions pulls together agricultural knowledge from around the world.

“Because, let’s face it, the challenges facing our food system are global, they’re international,” Grainger-Jones told Brownfield Ag News during the World Food Prize Forum. “They require cooperation between countries.”

The CGIAR was born in 1971, partly the result of the same global hunger concerns that started the Green Revolution. The objective is still the production of adequate calories to feed the world’s population, according to Grainger-Jones, but he said it has shifted to producing foods with specific qualities, such as vitamin-A.

“We’re basically reframing the debate from growing food – and it’s all about that – to thinking about a food system, which is inherent to many of the challenges and opportunities faced by society,” said Grainger-Jones, “not just in any one country, but globally.”

The CGIAR’s current mission is exponentially more difficult than the original Green Revolution, said Grainger-Jones. Part of that mission is to maintain genetic diversity in 11 gene banks around the world, where under an international treaty, are stored 750,000 seed varieties.

“There’s this massive hangar full of silver packets of seeds with thousands of different varieties of, let’s say, maize and wheat, or rice, or potatoes,” said Grainger-Jones, describing one of the facilities.

The CGIAR is formerly known as the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research.

AUDIO: Elwyn Grainger-Jones (11 min. MP3)

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