Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sustainability conference at Tufts Friedman School, April 11

The intrepid graduate student group Food has organized what promises to be a fascinating conference on sustainability here at the Friedman School of Nutrition, Tufts University.
Sustainability in the Balance:
Juggling Environmental Health, Economic Profitability, and Social Equity in the Global Food System

April 11, 2006 2:30 – 7:00 pm
Reception to follow

Presented by FOOD: A Student Initiative of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Tufts University, 150 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA Behrakis Auditorium. 2: 30 pm

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Ecologically Sound Agriculture: Principles, Practices, Constraints Dr. Fred Magdoff, Professor of Soils, Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont and Northeast Region USDA SARE Coordinator. Professor Magdoff will discuss the agro-ecological principles necessary for ‘sustainable’ agriculture. He will contrast the inputs and practices needed for ecologically-based agriculture with those used in conventional agricultural systems. He will also address some of the political, social, and economic stumbling blocks to promoting sustainable agriculture in the U.S. and in developing countries.

4:00 pm PANEL I: Changing Trends in the Global Food System: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Agriculture Sustainable agriculture rests on the principle that present-day food needs can be met without compromising the food security of future generations. As the global demand for food mounts and the fragility of the natural environment becomes ever more apparent, farmers, communities, and governments must identify ways to ensure agricultural sustainability without sacrificing productivity. In light of the challenges facing world agriculture, each panelist will sketch their vision for an agricultural system that can balance the three pillars of sustainability: environmental health, economic profitability, and social equity. Panelists: Dr. Richard Levins, John Rock Professor of Population Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health; Dr. Robert Paarlberg, Betty Freyhof Johnson Class of 1944 Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College and Associate Professor at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University; Dr. Molly Anderson, Consultant on Science and Public Policy.

5:45 pm PANEL II: Biofuels: Friend or Foe of the Food System? Biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, are often portrayed as the next great wave in green energy and a potential savior of the U.S. farm sector. Opponents argue, however, that biofuels should not be viewed as a sustainable solution because at least for the most industrial crops, like corn and soy, more energy is used in the production of the biomass than is generated by the fuel. Also to be considered are the environmental, livelihood, and food security issues involved in a large scale transformation of the industrial agricultural sector from a food industry to an energy industry. This panel will explore the science underpinning the debate and the implications of using increased crop-based energy sources in the context of decreasing fossil fuel availability. Panelists: Jim Kleinshmit, Senior Associate, Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy; Dr. William Moomaw, Director, Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, The Fletcher School, Tufts University; Dr. Daniel De La Torre Ugarte, Associate Director, Agricultural Policy and Analysis Center, The University of Tennessee.

Symposium Sponsors: Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts Institute of the Environment, Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, Tufts University College of Citizenship and Public Service Tufts, Food and Awareness Project.