U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement today, May 8, after endorsing the final communique by the G-20 Agriculture Ministers in Istanbul, Turkey:
“I commend Minister of Agriculture Mehmet Mehdi Eker for hosting this important ministerial on food security. Members of the G-20 represent about 85 percent of global gross domestic product and over 75 percent of world trade, so it is important for us to come together to develop strategies for achieving sustainable food systems and to recognize how reducing food loss and waste is critical to our overall food security around the world.
“After open and frank discussions, I believe we arrived at a communique that outlines major goals that must be achieved if we are to increase food security in the world. Together, the leaders underscored that food security and nutrition are a top priority for the G-20 and endorse the G-20 Food Security and Nutrition Framework of 2014. We encourage global leaders, in developing their policy options and strategies, to ensure adequate nutrition is a prerequisite for human resource and community development, productivity and growth.
“Most important from the U.S. perspective is acknowledging the importance of reducing post-harvest loss and food waste and the positive effect that can have on increasing food security. The issue of food loss and waste is different in developed countries, where the problem is the foods that consumers throw away. In developing countries, the problem is inefficient storage of foods and ingredients before they reach the consumers. We noted with great concern the significant extent of food loss and waste throughout food value chains and the negative consequences for food security, nutrition, use of natural resources and the environment. Our discussion focused on suggesting how countries might approach the issue rather than regulating or compelling people to stop food waste. In addition, the communique suggests investments at all stages of food value chains to help raise productivity, generate employment and incomes, and reduce food losses and waste.
“The communique also acknowledges the important role that science and innovation play in increasing crop production and enhancing knowledge sharing. To that end, the G-20 Agriculture Ministers called for greater cooperation and exchange of information among G-20 members to foster development of skills and new technologies. The communique also reaffirms the G-20’s commitment to the fundamental role of open, non-discriminatory, rules-based trade and the importance of reducing non-tariff barriers in helping growing economies and food security in the face of a changing climate.
“Finally, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture underscored with the release of USDA’s Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry in April, the world must wake up to the fact that no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. With that in mind, global leaders should encourage development of a range of technologies, including agricultural biotechnology, and practices that are integral to food production and management of natural resources that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage, and generate clean and renewable energy.”