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DuPont leader calls for action to prevent food crisis

DuPont Executive Vice President James C. Borel has urged more than 200 business, government and non-profit leaders to commit to a new level of collaboration and personal accountability to achieve global food security

Borel made the call recently at The Economist Conferences Feeding the World summit in Geneva, Switzerland. The Feeding the World summit explores actions needed to ensure that a global population rising to nine billion or more can be fed sustainably and equitably.

“We know that the consequences of hunger and malnutrition are so devastating, so multi-faceted, that no one company, country or organisation has all the answers,” said Borel. “It will take all of us working collaboratively to ensure that every person has enough nutritious food to eat. Together, we must take action. Now is the time for increased accountability to prevent the looming crisis that will have ramifications for all people.”

DuPont has committed to invest US$10bn in research and development dedicated to the food, agriculture and nutrition sectors and advancing 4,000 new products by the end of 2020; supporting training and education opportunities for youth around the world, and working with farmers to improve the livelihoods of families in rural communities.

Borel provided several examples of how DuPont is committed to helping feed a growing world including:

Developing a natural culture that preserves and stabilises raw milk and extends its shelf life by 8 to 12 hours. To a dairy farmer in a developing country, this product can help improve their business model, ensure a valuable protein is available to their family and community, and potentially help them lift themselves out of poverty.

In Africa, DuPont is helping to equip the next generation of smallholder farmers with skills so they can become self-sustaining by investing US$2mn over two years to establish a comprehensive professional development institute for 4-H African leadership. The company’s initial focus is in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa – countries where the need to engage young people in agriculture is greatest.

Other projects under way involve technology to deliver drought-tolerant seeds to local farmers across the globe. These new seeds will improve productivity and efficiency of water usage across many different crops and regions.

“Science is global – but solutions must be local,” said Borel. “The chances of achieving that goal are increased dramatically by creating science-based innovations that target specific local challenges, collaborating with others on solutions and bringing know-how to the people and places that need it most.”