Going Beyond the Rhetoric: Metrics for Assessing Global Agriculture

On October 1, 2009, over 140 people gathered at Columbia University to discuss how to address some of the most monumental challenges of our time – how to meet the food demands of the global population while also considering social, environmental, and economic outcomes. The symposium reflected the wide-reach of the Earth Institute and gathered participants from a broad range of disciplines and academic institutions, including Cornell University, UC Davis, Princeton University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Minnesota; NGOs, such as EcoAgriculture Partners,  Concern International, the Millennium Institute, and the Wildlife Conservation Society; international organizations, including the World Bank and the World Food Programme; and private sector companies, such as Deutsche Bank, Monsanto, Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever,  and Yara International.The participants discussed the latest research on three critical topics, including:

  • Where will the nutrients come from to enable agricultural systems to feed a global population of nine billion people?
  • How can we best meet the growing demand for agricultural products while also conserving biodiversity and other ecosystem services?
  • What is the risk/benefit ratio of genetic engineering for agriculture?