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The following pages contain archive material from the 2011 McGill Conference on Global Food Security.

Risks and Threats to Food Security

The Fourth McGill Conference on Global Food Security - Risks and Threats to Food Security - was held between October 4-6, 2011.  Through plenary sessions and cross-sectoral dialogue, the annual Conference is designed to produce concrete outcomes that will lead to improving the availability of a secure and safe food supply for people suffering from hunger and malnutrition around the world.

It is evident that the gains made in food production over the past few years are now rapidly eroding due to higher global food prices (37% higher, on average, than one year ago), rising food price volatility, increased energy costs, reduced crop yields due to recent natural disasters in many parts of the world, and political instability in some regions.  These threats and risks to food security are most serious in countries that depend heavily on food imports to meet the nutritional needs of their populations, and where food producers are faced with rising costs of production and limited access to markets.  The 500-million small-farmers in developing countries who support almost 2-billion people – or one third of the world’s population – continue to be severely affected by these threats and risks.

Climate change, competition for land and water resources, and energy demands are further threatening the security of the food system.  Impacts of the so-called “land grabs” and debate over biofuel policies were addressed at the Conference.

Food safety, another risk to food security, particularly in developing countries, were highlighted at the Conference, within the overall scope of public health, food system policies, international safety regulations, market standards and trade agreements, and ultimately access to markets.  The Conference also emphasized sustainable practices being implemented in various countries to achieve food and nutritional security at the village or community level.

International and national participants at this three-day conference included high-ranking decision-makers, academics, students, representatives of government, the private sector, international agencies, and civil society.