A diverse, global scientific community, collectively worrying about how to feed a growing world population expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050, will provide the focus and collaboration needed to meet the challenge, CNN host, Washington Post columnist, editor-at-large of Time magazine, and bestselling author Fareed Zakaria, PhD, said July 14 at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2013 Annual Meeting & Food Expo® in Chicago.
Despite a pervasive “atmosphere of gloom” over the global economy and the inability to solve the world’s problems, a new global system has emerged that is producing “an explosion of human talent,” and an unprecedented opportunity for stability and innovation, Dr. Zakaria said.
“We always tend to worry about crisis and doom, and somehow we always recover,” Zakaria said. “What is new is that we have created a global economy and a new global system,” for which we have yet to “fully recognize its power, depth, and strength.”
“Countries that were once opposed to each other (economically and politically) are now joined in this global system, and they are participating in and playing by the same rules,” Zakaria said. They include Brazil, China, India, and other countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. In addition, the Internet provides information access to scientists throughout the world.
“That is the big event of our lifetime – the rise of the rest,” Zakaria said. “Dozens of countries that were locked out of the global economy have found a way to plug in and play in the new global system.” As a result, “we face enormous challenges, but they are not going to be challenges of decay, but of growth and abundance.”
So how will the world boost food production by 70 percent over the next 40 years, ensure enough usable water to produce and process this food, and solve the world’s other problems?
Problems have historically been solved by “harnessing the human response,” Zakaria said.
Zakaria referenced the 2009 H1N1 pandemic as an example of how well-publicized and well-coordinated global concerns over the spread of the disease resulted in its containment.
“You have to worry,” said Zakaria. “It is worrying in a productive, purposeful manner that you overcome the challenge that you are worrying about. If all of us worry about human collapse, decay, and decline, as long as we are worrying about it in a productive way, we will avert it.”
• For more than 70 years, IFT has existed to advance the science of food. Our nonprofit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists, and related professions from academia, government, and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.