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Teagasc Annual Lecture

The second lecture in the Teagasc Annual Distinguished Lecturer Series will be presented in the RDS, Dublin, this evening, Wednesday, 23rd March 2016 by Dr Frank Rijsberman. Dr Rijsberman is CEO of the CGIAR Consortium (www.cgiar.org), the world’s largest, publicly funded, international agriculture research organisation, with an annual budget of 1 billion US$, and approximately 10,000 employees in over 70 countries.

Dr Rijsberman’s lecture is entitled ‘Transforming Agri-food Systems to achieve Healthy Diets for all’. Speaking in advance of the lecture, Dr Rijsberman said: “Our research organisations and funders want to see our research reach large number of poor families with nutritious food solutions; they want to see our research reach large numbers of farmers with smart sustainable agriculture solutions. We have ‘boots on the ground’ in over 70 countries around the world providing scientific solutions to address the challenges faced.”

Poor diets are now the number one cause of ill health globally, overtaking smoking, with 800 million hungry people, 2 billion malnourished people, 159 million stunted children and 2 billion people overweight or obese, causing rapid increases in diabetes in India and heart disease in China.

The global food system is doing a poor job providing healthy food for all and is also the primary driver of planetary ill health. Soil degradation on 25% of cropped land, deforestation and loss of biodiversity, water scarcity, pollution of lakes and seas, and a contribution to climate change of about 25% of emissions, jointly make agriculture the key risk to manage to keep humanity within a safe planetary operating space.

The traditional focus of the global food security strategy on increasing the productivity of staple cereals will not be enough to solve these issues, which will require a radical transformation of agri-food systems.

Tom Arnold, former CEO of Concern Worldwide, will chair this evening’s Teagasc lecture in the RDS, Dublin.