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Food security needs social media boost, says agribusiness executive

John Walter Updated: 10/16/2013 @ 9:56am

Farmers have their work cut out for them if they intend to meet the big challenge of feeding a growing global population, but world hunger, unlike most issues, is solvable, says Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco.

Speaking at a Meredith Agrimedia event related to the World Food Prize conference in Des Moines, Iowa, this week, Simmons previewed the Enough Food Security Report, which he says will be a call to action, an invitation for people to participate in the solution.

“It’s time to solve the greatest issue of our time—securing the food we need to feed our world,” the Enough report states.

In the next seven years the world will see the fastest growth of the middle class in history, Simmons said. By 2020, three billion people will expect to live a better life and afford a better diet, which will include more meat, milk and eggs.

Simmons cited personal stories of interacting with the various faces of hunger across the globe, including people who live in his community. Hunger is not just a distant issue half way around the world, but a part of our daily life, he said.

“We’ve had enough talking about this. There is a face we all see every day, someone who is struggling with food security,” Simmons said.

An example of a growing global “protein gap” is demonstrated by the shortage of milk worldwide. Given the current lag in production, some 4.5 billion people—about half the global population projected by 2020--won’t have access to enough milk for an adequate diet.

Modern production agriculture has the power to get the job done in a way that is “safe, regulated, affordable and that uses fewer resources,” Simmons said. The Enough report cites three main pathways to addressing food security—innovation in food science and production, choices for producers and consumers, and continuing improvement of food trade.

Elanco is putting heavy emphasis on social media to influence public involvement in food issues. Headlines are less important these days than are the number of mentions of an issue on Twitter, Simmons said.

Elanco’s goal is to encourage some 10,000 individuals to make food security their cause in social media, generating a million positive food security impressions weekly.

More information on the campaign is available at www.sensibletable.com

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Social media is critical 10/17/2013 @ 3:00am John, while I was not able to attend the World Food Prize conference, I was able to follow on social media! It is great to see this communication tool being recognized for what it has become. At FAO and in other development organizations we are using social media, and see it being used in developing countries. The folk at FHI360 and USAID have put together a great Social Media Handbook for Agricultural Development Practitioners, which is available here http://bit.ly/1aqHUcx

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How Will Social Media Help The Third World? 10/16/2013 @ 9:03am It seems to me that most current food insecurity has to do with poverty, corruption, unstable political regimes, inadequate infrastructure, ignorance and unavailability of resources. I'm not sure how social media is going to address those issues for the bulk of the victims. One place to start is that many of us make poor food choices which we invariably blame on outside influences. How are we to expect the less informed to do better? Should we Super Size that meal or cook up a nutritious stew for less money? Yep, I'll have a Big Mac. Sad.

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