Writen by Nera Kuljanic
Important international actors from the scientific community, industry, civil society and politics are gathering at the World Exhibition (EXPO), which takes place from 1 May to 31 October 2015 in Milan, Italy, to discuss the agricultural, environmental and technological challenges of feeding the planet.
On 8 and 9 May, MEP Mairead McGuinness, Vice-President of the EP responsible for the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel, MEP Dr Paul Rübig, STOA Panel Chair, and MEP Marijana Petir, visited EXPO Milano to begin taking part in the six months of discussion of the role of science, research and innovation in feeding a growing global population, sustainably, with limited natural resources. The Members will feed their experience back into their work for the EP’s Agriculture, Environment, Industry and Development Committees, as well as contributing to future STOA research work. Issues of food and natural resources were at the core of STOA’s 2013 projects ‘Sustainable management of natural resources with a focus on water and agriculture‘ and ‘Technology options for feeding 10 billion people‘. The STOA Panel will continue to join the discussion; up to the final event presenting possible future policy actions which takes place in October 2015. Your contribution to the discussion is welcome here.
Speaking at the high-level conference ‘Towards a Research Agenda for Global Food and Nutrition Security’ on 8 May, organised by the EU Scientific Steering Committee for EXPO, Vice-President McGuinness emphasised that agriculture, often regarded as an industry of the past, is actually the industry of the future, forming the core of development and progress. She underlined that the future challenges summarised in the theme of the Milan EXPO, ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’, encompass technological, environmental and development issues, upon which we have a moral and ethical duty to act. In her view, the time has come for the environmental and agricultural sectors to work together, hand-in-hand and for young farmers to take up the new challenges.
STOA Chairman Dr Paul Rübig contributed to a discussion on ‘How could European research add the most value’. Calling for the establishment of more interdisciplinary areas in EU research and innovation framework programmes, he said that using educational technology to equip today’s learners with knowledge and skills for solving tomorrow’s problems was crucial.
During a discussion on ‘Research on food markets, trade and equity in a globalised food system’, MEP Marijana Petir raised the question of a possible GMO-free future for Africa – a subject on which the participants had very different views.
Saturday 9 May 2015 was ‘Europe Day’, and Dr Rübig and MEP Petir joined the EP’s President Martin Schulz and European Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini in the official celebration on the EXPO site.
Read more about the EXPO and the EU’s participation in this overview prepared by EPRS.