Former US Secretary of State John Kerry making the opening address to Global Table in Melbourne.

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry making the opening address to Global Table in Melbourne.

Feeding the future

Feeding the future the next big question


With the world's population increasing the next question is how will they be fed.


Feeding the world now, and in the future, is one of the great challenges facing the planet, and something everyone has to deal with.

That was the message delivered by former US Secretary of State John Kerry in the opening address of the Global Table agrifood conference in Melbourne.

The first Global Table conference

The conference's theme was sustainabilty, and in his keynote address Secretary Kerry told about 3000 delegates more needed to be done.

"Right now one in nine people wake up with hunger pains, and goes to bed with an empty stomach," he said.

"We're talking about 8000 children dying every single day because they're aren't getting basic nourishment. Which we have and know how to create and deliver. We waste a third of the food we produce, and yet people are dying and go to bed hungry.

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"But growing more food is really only part of the challenge. We have to become better stewards of the land and the ways we produce the food, and the truth is we're not smart enough at that right now.

"Think of the natural resources we could save if we could get smarter about food harvest, storage, distribution? Think of the natural resources we would save. Water, land, energy, forests if food production were more efficient and better controlled?"

But it wasn't only food and agriculture in Secretary Kerry's sights. While accepting that it is an issue many are uncomfortable talking about, he was adamant it is time to a address the global population growth, and how they will be fed.

"It is something we fail to talk about a whole lot in public policy today, but something we could, without breaking any moral mores," he said.

"In the next 35 years we're going to go from 7 billion people on this planet to 9 billion. So we obviously have to produce more food and do it in better ways. We have to increase food production by 60 per cent between now and 2050 just to keep pace with the rising number of mouths to feed."

Climate change

Senator Kerry saved his biggest criticism for those who don't accept that climate change is an issue and continue to debate its impact.

"There is no debate," he said. "The naysayers are the same people who brought the tobacco industry to America, that for years lied to the American people. That is what is happening right now with respect to climate change.

"Paid for, totally unscientific studies that aren't really studies at all, but efforts to confuse people. The science is settled on."

Producer presence

It was not only political heavyweights addressing the Melbourne conference. northern NSW producer Charlie Arnott was there to let delegates know Australia's farming community was serious about doing the right thing for the future of the food industry.

"Farmers have a wonderful story and are producing wonderful products," he said. "I think the gap is that they're just not telling their story. We are good at farming but we're not good at marketing."

Northern NSW livestock producer Charlie Arnott making his presentation.

Northern NSW livestock producer Charlie Arnott making his presentation.

This is the first Global Table conference and its purpose is to be a one-stop shop for all aspects of the food industry, from producers to retailers.

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Chief operating officer of event organiser Food and Wine Victoria Jane Brook said they wanted to make it easier and cheaper for different industry players, especially producers, to take part in an industry event.

"It's the producers who are the people at ground zero. They're the ones who can really facilitate change as well through innovation," She said.

The story Feeding the future first appeared on Farm Online.