Systemic Risk in Food and Farming, the role of GM, the IAASTD assessment

Here are is our sound recording of the talk by Janice Jiggins, and the presentation slides. You can download the presentation and then listen to the MP3 as you go through them – as if you were at the conference!

Presentation (link to PDF)

Prof Janice Jiggins – Systemic Risk in Food and Farming

Sound file (link to MP3)

Janice Jiggins – Systemic Risk in Food and Farming

Professor Janice JigginsJanice Jiggins is a social scientist, former Professor of Human Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and currently based at Communication and Innovation Studies, Wageningen University Research, The Netherlands. She is a Visiting Fellow, IIED, London, acts as Chair of the Program Advisory Committee of the System-wide Program on Participatory Research and Gender Issues of the CGIAR and sits on the Management Board of Tropenbos International.

For more than thirty years she has worked and published widely on small farm development in the tropics, extension systems, farming systems research, Participatory Plant Breeding, natural resource management, Integrated Pest Management, gender issues and, within Europe, on the sustainable management of water in the agrarian sector.

For the last three years she has contributed intensively to the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development ( and follow up activities.


Systemic risk in food and farming: can it be avoided? The IAASTD assessment
Prof. Janice Jiggins, Wageningen University Research, The Netherlands

In the second half of the last century, there were dramatic increases in yields, based on improving productivity per ha; at the turn of the millennium, dietary energy supply was an average 2803 kcals per person per day, comfortably within the range of energy intake considered adequate for healthy living. Food prices had experienced a significant long term decline.

But business as usual is not an option:

  • Unbalanced dietary outcomes; approx. 1 billion do not have enough to eat; an additional 1bn are unable to buy an adequate and healthy diet; an additional 1bn are obese. And over a third of the world’s people suffer moderate to severe health because of micronutrient deficiencies
  • Little of the profits from food & farming find their way to small scale producers & labourers
  • Impacts on natural systems are unsustainable; trends are getting worse
  • Commercial food & farming systems are fossil fuel dependent
  • The playing field for trade is not level
  • Legislation for soils and water often are not ecologically literate
  • Climate change heightens uncertainties, increases risks of surprise

Institutional failures increase systemic risk:

  • Unbalanced markets in Agricultural Knowledge, Science & Technology  (AKST) do not produce optimal solutions
  • Risk estimation takes insufficient account of the context of use & combinatorial effects
  • Unbalanced economic institutions
  • Food security is highly coupled to financial market stability
  • Significant under-investment and lack of balance in public good AKST
  • Current IPR regimes drive innovation along the wrong path
  • The illusion of the ‘global anywhere’ allows consumers to distance themselves from the resource claims and impacts of production in far away places

Some powerful GM enthusiasts claim GM technologies can solve these complex problems.

There are no facts about the future. IAASTD findings are that on past evidence GM technologies so far have not served the inter-dependent goals of sustainability and development. The specific findings are detailed in the presentation. The IAASTD further finds that the systemic risks can be managed but require determined action, on a broad front. The options are further specified in the presentation.


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5 Responses to “Systemic Risk in Food and Farming, the role of GM, the IAASTD assessment”

  1. Complaints to BBC on GM Food Fight « Feeding the World Conference Says:

    […] Are GM Crops fit for purpose? If not, then what? « Why GM is not going to deliver Systemic Risk in Food and Farming, the role of GM, the IAASTD assessment […]

  2. Ruth to reply? BBC GM debate… « the natureheads blog Says:

    […] There was an excellent summary of the IAASTD report’s conclusions at the conference by Professor Janice Jiggins. Listen again: […]

  3. Presentations now online « Feeding the World Conference Says:

    […] The first audio files listed are the talks by Dr Antoniou and Professor Janice Jiggins. […]

  4. Problems of transgene flow – a litigation nightmare « Feeding the World Conference Says:

    […] Jack Heinemann from the University of Christchurch, New Zealand, a lead author on the IAASTD Report, told the Feeding the World Conference about the experiences of oilseed rape (canola) growers in […]

  5. GM Food - conference talks online « Sheepdrove’s Weblog Says:

    […] The conference, supported by the Sheepdrove Trust, tackled the question of GM crops in relation to the challenge of feeding the world. Some speakers were distiguished as being participants of the famous 2008 IAASTD Report – a study which involved hundreds of researchers around the world – assessing the progress of agricultural science, knowledge and technology. Learn what the IAASTD said about GM crops. […]

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