Lahore, May 10, 2018 (PPI-OT): Cornell University, New York International Professor Dr Syed S.H. Rizvi Wednesday highlighted major threats and challenges to the world’s food security and sustainability, stressed that their future depends upon developing sustainable food systems which use less land and water. In his key note address at the inaugural session of third international conference on biosciences, Dr Rizvi, who is the professor of food process engineering, said that agricultural productivity was not rising fast enough to sustainably feed the world in 2050.
The three-day international conference is organised by the Biological Society of Pakistan (BSP) in collaboration with the Eco-Science Foundation at the Government College University Lahore to deliberate upon challenges and latest scientific developments in plant sciences, microbiology, animal sciences, biotechnology, and environmental science.
GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah chaired the conference’s inaugural session which also attended by thirteen eminent foreign scientists from Canada, USA, UK, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran and China and vice chancellors of different public sector universities of Pakistan.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof Rizvi also underlined the immediate need for reducing food wastage in production processes, storage and human consumption through scientific innovations. “If the loss and waste are cut in half by 2050, the world would need to produce 22 percent less food to feed 9 billion people,” he added.
The Cornell University professor said that the world’s food demand was estimated to be increased by 70 to 100 pc in the next three decades; 50 pc of the increase would be due to population growth to 9 billion, while other 50% would be due to changing dietary choices. He said that another challenge to the food security was decreasing cultivable land which would decrease down from 0.45 Hectares per capital in 1996 to 0.15 Hectares in 2050; when 70 percent of the world’s population would be Urban.
Talking about the nutrition and health issues, Prof Rizvi said that out of a world population of 7 billion, about 2 billion people were suffering micronutrient malnutrition which he called the hidden hunger, while 800 million suffer from calorie deficiency. He added that our of 667 million children under the age of 5 worldwide, about 159 million were too short of their age and 50 million didn’t weigh enough of their height. “Half of these children live in just three countries; India, Pakistan and Bangladesh,” he added.
The food scientist also told the participants about the recent Impossible Food; meat, fish and dairy directly made of plants with smaller environmental footprint than those from animals. He said that such meat and burgers made of plants were being sold at 1400 outlets in USA.
Prof Rizvi said although many referred to the 21st century as being the age of the biological sciences, he believed it’s the age of the agricultural sciences. “The grand societal challenges rely on sufficient food, safe food, food that promotes health and prevents disease, renewable energy, all in the context of changing climate in which agriculture must adapt in order to address the other challenges and for which agriculture can also play an important role in mitigating climate change,” he concluded.
Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah laid a stress on more investment in research and development, saying that this was the only way forward for Pakistan. He directed the BSP to publish the proceedings of this conference, so that the country’s agriculture policy makers could also benefit from it.
BSP General Secretary Prof Dr Ikram ul Haq said that they had received 251 research papers from Pakistan and abroad for this conference; out of which 100 would be presented at the 17 technical sessions of the conference besides 17 keynote addresses. He said that they had also arranged a walled city tour for the foreign speakers at the concluding day of the conference.
BSP President Prof Dr Anwar Malik, GCU Institute of Industrial Biotechnology Chairman Prof Dr Hamid Mukhtar, Punjab Agriculture and Research Board Executive Member Dr Muhammad Younas and Engineer Khalil Raza from Eco-Science Foundation also addressed the inaugural ceremony of the conference.
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