All living organisms need nourishment and this need must be met maintaining the natural balances of the renewable biosphere. When humans chose to become sedentary, agriculture was born and “culture” (a term deriving etymologically from it) developed: these are two of the parameters widely used to measure the level of civilization.
We will be able to survive as long as we have agriculture, still the only source of our daily bread. But this “primary” productive sector will have to be able to provide for the foreseen increase in the world’s population and the growing food needs of each individual.
The problems of “global food safety” are multiple. In addition to those related to malnutrition and death from starvation, which still persist on our planet, there are qualitative and health benefits that also hit developed countries. It seems, though, that the European Union is underestimating and disparaging agriculture, measuring its importance based only on the gross value of primary agricultural products (GDP) and relying shortsightedly on the possibility of drawing indefinitely from the necessary commodities and on an already risky and inadequate global market. It would therefore be committing grave errors also because it has forgotten the many important roles agriculture has played - such as the multi-functional activities it has gratuitously guaranteed for millennia with water regulation, protection from erosion, geological instability, etc. - and the many important crops, including non-food (wood, textile fibres, energy biomass, etc.) and other plant and animal products, offered directly for consumption as raw materials to the food chain industries. Consumers can take advantage of a multitude of products processed by the food chains that generally achieve an added value altogether much higher than what farmers earn with prices paid at the point of origin.
To varying degrees, the shared solutions acknowledged to date at the various, successive world summits on planetary problems (i.e., food safety, environmental protection, energy resources, etc.) increasingly highlight the central strategic role that agriculture is bound to have in many of the solutions that have emerged and which must interest and engage all countries.
(Franco Scaramuzzi, Georgofili Academy, email@example.com)