On September 19, BIO’s Livestock Biotech Summit kicked off with an international flair. Eleven countries are represented at the Kansas City conference including Argentina, Belgium, China, Italy and Thailand.
Focused on developing global solutions through animal biotechnology, the Summit kicked off with a keynote address from Justin Chesnut of Elanco Animal Health. He delivered a powerful message to the audience on using technology to feed the world. Justin talked about how technology is the vital ingredient to making safe, affordable and abundant food a reality saying by the year 2050, the world population will require 100 percent more food, and 70 percent of that food must come from efficiency-improving technology.
Hunger is the number one health problem in the developing world, he said, adding that lack of food kills more than war, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. 25,000 people across the globe die each day from hunger – that’s the equivalent of 60 jumbo jets falling out of the sky every day.
Justin also addressed whether or not consumers want technology in their food. He referred to an International Consumer Attitudes Survey (ICAS) that used opinion polls and spending data surveying more than 97,000 consumers in 26 countries through 28 surveys conducted between 2001 and 2010. It found that 95 percent chose their food based on three main factors: taste, cost and nutrition. Another 4 percent were lifestyle buyers choosing to buy their food based on factors such as gourmet, organic and local. Only a small fringe group of 1 percent supported bans and restrictions on the types of foods they thought others should eat.
Global sales of foods produced without technology were 1.4 percent in 2009 and are projected at 1.6 percent in 2014. While this is an important niche, Justin urged attendees to support the 99 percent of consumers who think there should be a choice – most of whom would choose technology if it meant their food tastes better, costs less and is equally nutritious. With food security becoming an increasing global concern, the time for action is now.
Last week’s Livestock Summit covered everything from the regulatory process for genetically engineered (GE) animals and public and private funding opportunities to the science and benefits of GE agricultural animals for both food and biomedical applications.