The 2010 'Great Debate' held during Alltech's 26th International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky, USA exceeded expectations as four renowned figures from the agricultural industry debated their views on The Triple Bottom Line of People, Profits and Planet.
Three key topics that were addressed by the speakers during the debate were; public education, how best to address global hunger and confronting criticism within the agri-industry.
Professor Patrick Wall, former chairman of the management board of the European Food & Safety Association (EFSA), Ireland, Trent Loos, radio, print and agribusiness commentator, USA, Osler Desouzart, Consultant, Brazil and Gordon Butland, Director, G&S Agri Consultants, Thailand took the stage to discuss their ideas in front of more than 1,500 delegates representing top global agribusinesses.
Professor Wall spoke about the importance of education in the fight against hunger. “Hunger is linked to poverty. Education and training is the key, not providing aid. We were designed to be hunter gathers. We use the BSE theory: Blame Someone Else. To tackle obesity we can't put it on one industry but it is a group effort. Everyone's most available resource is their head.” Mr. Butland supported Professor Wall's argument, stating, “The solution is simply education, education and more education.”
The panelists expressed their views strongly on other hot topic issues like global warming. On the one hand stating that “Global warming is the largest man-made hoax the world has ever seen”, Trent Loos reminded those present that “Our job in agriculture is the moral and ethical responsibility to convert natural resources into human consumable products. That will be done in a sustainable way with profits driving what is best for the planet and ultimately doing what's most important, improving the lives of humans around the world.”
On whether buying locally was really something that should be encouraged, Osler Desouzart stated that, “This is the latest. It is not the last but it is the latest. It's “buy local.” I went to Finland and asked them for a local pineapple. Most unfortunately they had none available that week. And then I came here to Kentucky and said 'I refuse to buy any coffee that is not produced in Kentucky, please serve me. I have been drinking tea ever since… Less than 10% of all food is traded. Food is already local. It is protectionism.”
Commenting on the debate, Alltech Vice-President, Aidan Connolly, said, “It has been an honor for us to host this informative debate at our 26th Symposium”. He reminded the international audience of the importance of the “multiplier effect” in spreading the messages delivered by the panel. “If everybody tells the story to just two people on their journey home, we will have tripled the delivery of the key messages.”