Friday, January 16, 2015

16/01/2015: Biomin’s World Nutrition Forum - A less sustainable world today

Originally published in International Aquafeed (November - December 2014)

"You have in front of you a depressed man with a smiling face," Professor Jorgen Randers of BI Norwegian Business School told the 800-plus delegates attending this year's Biomin World Nutrition Conference in Munich, Germany this morning in his keynote address.

Dr Randers as professor of climate strategy addressed the question of '2052 - A global forecast for the next 40 years' went on to say, "I have spent the last 40 years working for sustainable development, working for a sustainable world and I have failed.

"The world is less sustainable today than I started my hard labours on sustainable development 40 years ago. The simplest way of indicating this is by the climate situation.

"The simplest way to demonstrate this is that every year humanity is producing twice as much CO2 as is being absorbed by the earth. The remainder stays in the atmosphere with a half-life of more than 100 years and as this concentration goes up the temperature goes up. This will continue until we stop emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

"A highly unsustainable situation where dramatic change is needed if we want to move in the direction of sustainability. 

With a projected world population of eight billion by 2040, he pointed to three factors that will impact the development of the world as it progresses over the next 40 years would see world populations increases being to decline as the trend by women to have less children continue below the 1.8 in both the developed and developing world.

The second major impact on countries will be the overall decline in GDP which will slow down as populations progressively move from the land to factories and then into health care - or caring for the elderly.

"Economic development is shifting towards health care as clearly shown in the USA, Switzerland and other developed countries."

He said 17 percent of the USA's working population is already in the health care sector and probably more were needed.

"Productively increases based on output per person is lower in these areas."

Professor Randers says that the GDP growth rate in these countries will probably be zero percent over the next 40 years while poorer countries will see growth in primary and secondary employment as they continue to go through the steps from farm to factory to health care eventually. He sees China following the path both Japan and Korea have taken.

He also sees developed countries spending resources not only on health care but also overcoming new problems associated with pollution, climate change, etc.

"We will have to spend labour and capital to combat these things."

Other observations included solar and wind power squeezing out fossil fuel use long before reserves of these energy sources are depleted; CO2 emissions will peak in 2030; temperatures will increase by two degrees by 2050 but will not bring about catastrophic climate collapse before 2050; world food is enough to satisfy demand up to 2050 but significant starvation will remain as is currently the case and was in 1970; food will not be in short supply but rather people will not have sufficient income to pay for it.

"Starvation will not be caused by physical limitations, but by income constraints. Food production will flow as demand grows and not as the need for food grows."

"How can you be sure I'm right?" he asked his audience.

"We know from past experience that people will continue to choose the cheapest solutions - the cheapest and most profitable. This is a fundamental driver with most people not wanting to make a sacrifice today for an advantage in the future."

He said moving just two percent of the world's workforce from 'dirty' jobs to 'clean' jobs in environmental terms and moving just two percent of the world's capital into clean energies will solve the problems we face.

"But that's more expensive than doing nothing. So it won't happen."

Optimists believe the market will solve the problem. This will not work either, given the short-termism of capitalism and the need to be profitable, he explained.

He believes the suggested strategy of businesses aligning itself with social requirements to help solve these problems will not work either, given that carbon taxes have not worked.

He concluded by saying that companies need to work politically to bring about long term change, especially if we are to improve world hunger and that we as private individuals need to do our fair share "to help turn the ship in time," he concluded.

To circumvent this outcome, Professor Marty Matlock of the University of Akansas in the USA stressed: "If we want to preserve biodiversity and other land-based ecosystems, we must freeze the footprint of agriculture.”

He added that sustain:ability should be about continuous improvement and building resilience in a system through key performance indicators or KPIs.

“We have to freeze the footprint of agriculture if we are to preserve biodiversity and other land-based ecosystem services,” today yet we are challenged with having to increase food production by between 50 or 100 percent to meet the expected population levels by 2050, says Dr Marty Matlock, of the biological and Agricultural Engineering Department at the University of Arkansas in the USA. He was the second key-note speaker on the opening morning of the World Nutrition Forum.

Global meat will have to more than double to 465 million tonnes by 2050, milk production to double to 1043 million tonnes.

Feed additives and speciality feed ingredients are expected to play a key role in the sustainable future of animal production.

That’s what Didier Jans of FEFANA, the EU’s association of specialty feed and mixtures producers, told delegates attending the Forum.

He pointed out that while the feed industry operates at a local level it has become highly dependent on a complex range of international suppliers for its feed additives and speciality feed ingredients. He suggested that these speciality mixtures were more international than commodities.
“The value of feed additives and speciality feed ingredients allow them to travel,” more so than other components of the feed industry, he says.

It is the regulatory environment that determines whether or not a production unit can take its place in a particular country, he adds.

Regulation can either foster or hinder the development of these production facilities.

Proximity to the market is not the only factor that determines where facilities are established. In fact no region can claim self-sufficiency in feed additives or speciality feed ingredients and “this need for exchange is probably going to further increase as animal production is developed further in more countries.

“The access to feed additives and speciality feed ingredients is becoming a key element of the livestock production sustainability both in intensive production and extensive farming practices,” he adds.

He says the access to these types of ingredients is as important as access to macro feed materials such as soybean and coarse grains.

Projections of population growth and related animal production “legitimately gladdens the industry,” but it will also create enormous challenges to supply all these economies with the appropriate and desired additives, he went on to say.

“One of the cornerstones of this global supply of this global supply is to be able to move and use the product wherever they are needed without cumbersome barriers.”

Dr Jans points to the shortcomings of current legislation in terms of its unsynchronised nature at global level and its wide time-scale differences in adoption in an industry that is global in nature.

He referred to the Codex Alimentarius process for coordinating international food safety issues and noted the work done on the Code of Practice on Good Animal Feeding, the Guidelines on Application of Risk Assessment for Feed, the Guidance for Governments in Prioritising Hazard in Feed, but daid they did little for immediate harmonisation especially for the most developed regulatory environments.

“After six years of existence in total the ad hoc Task FGorce on Animal Feed that produced them has now terminated its mandate and feed is back to having no specific home in Codex.”

He went on to explain how industry following the EU’s Feed Hygiene Regulation became proactive to adopt a certification system that while based on regulation but is being used by a wide variety of trading partners around the world.

“The industry initiative was not only showing a path but is now also supporting the implementation in a fully consistent way at global level.”

Dr Jans also says there are several advantages to conceiving something for a global perspective rather than seeking compatibility for items initiated at developed separately.

In the species break-out sessions, speakers from each of the four livestock sectors shared how the use of technology, more efficient feed formulation, healthy profits and environmental issues determined the future sustainability of animal production.

In the Expert Session Aquaculture saw eight presenters contribute including International Aquafeed writers Dominique Bureau, Albert Tacon and Pedro Encarnacao of Biomin.

Other speakers included Ram Bhujel, Peter Bossier, Lisa Elliot and Adel El-Mowafi on topics ranging from Optimisation of the formulation of aquaculture feeds, to Aquaculture: aecuring the future; Recent advances in Asian Aquaculture and sustainability; Host microbial interactions in cultured aquatic larvae; Bacteriophage therapy in aquaculture and NutriEconomics applied to the aquaculture industry

Managing complexity was the theme of the opening address on October 17, 2014.

In a thought-provoking presentation citing varied literature on organisational complexity, Biomin founder Erich Erber shared how organisations could master this trend by fostering a culture of empowerment and trust, leading by KPIs, and creating an environment where honest feedback is encouraged and heeded.
The 6th World Nutrition Forum ended two full days of stimulating sessions with plenty of food-for-thought on issues of sustainability across a range of topics—from the animal sciences to management, economics and philosophy.

Rounding up the theme of sustainability was Tim Jones of Future Agenda, UK who pointed to education, especially of females in developing countries, as the key to unlocking the potential of the planet. Echoing the importance of education, Jason Clay of the WWF stressed that “it’s not about what to think but how to think.”

Such creative knowledge will be necessary for sustainable initiatives and reclaiming back the carrying capacity resource base of the planet, he stressed.

Aquafeed magazine will be reporting on more of the presentations at the 6th World Nutrition Forum in upcoming editions.

In the meantime this publications passes on its vote of thanks to Biomin for hosting such a intensive and captivating forum that went a long way for our livestock and protein production industries to understand more clearly the hurdles and opportunities which lie ahead over the next four decades.
Read the magazine HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
Perendale Publishers Ltd

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