The Chicago Council Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security opened with a jolt of urgency and possibility.

“The transformational day begins,” proclaimed Dan Glickman, co-chair of the Council’s Global Agricultural Development Initiative and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Symposium, bringing together leaders from governments around the world and multinational corporations, is setting the tone for this weekend’s G8 summit at Camp David.  Glickman said the G8’s deliberations on will be “critical in determining food and nutrition security of future generations.”

Michael Froman, assistant to President Obama and deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs, said a focus on nutrition security will be a central G8 theme.

Tom Arnold, chief executive of Concern Worldwide, hailed this focus on nutrition – on improving food quality in addition to increasing food production – as “unprecedented.”

At Camp David, the leaders of the top industrial nations will be joined by African presidents and private sector CEOs in advancing the G8 commitment to increased agricultural development investments made three years ago in L’Aquila, Italy.

Froman said President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative was beginning to produce results on the ground in some 20 countries.  He noted that agricultural productivity in those countries was eight times higher than the global average.

He also said the administration was “fully committed to an assistance agenda” in a time when Congressional budget cutters have been targeting foreign.  But, he added, “Government assistance alone is not sufficient.  It takes commitment on the ground” from all those involved on the agricultural development front.

As the Camp David summit opens, he said, “it will take all of us represented here to achieve our goals.  As you look to the G8, we look to you.”

 


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