Monday, 27 February 2012

A key to understanding international relations

It is crucial to economic growth, global security and the environment. It has major implications for global affairs in coming decades. In the words of SAIS Dean Jessica Einhorn, it "is key to understanding the foreign policy of nations."


The latest edition of SAISPHERE, the magazine for SAIS alumni and friends, explores the thorny issue of agriculture from a variety of perspectives -- not surprising considering the breadth of expertise at SAIS.

Robert Thompson, a SAIS visiting scholar and rural development expert with experience in the private and multilateral spheres, examines the challenge of feeding the equivalent of two more Chinas between now and mid-century.

Thompson is developing an agriculture-focused curriculum at SAIS, "blazing the trail to restore agriculture to its rightful place in international studies," according to Einhorn.

The 128-page magazine looks at lagging agricultural reforms in India, the reshaping of China's farm output to feed a rapidly expanding middle class, the links between food prices and economic growth -- and between global warming and food security.

Thompson sums up the challenge in his essay: "World demand for agricultural products may double between now and the middle of this century -- but by then there will be at most 10 percent more land and less freshwater available."

Charles Pearson, SAIS professor emeritus, puts it succinctly: "Do biofuels mandates and subsidies disrupt world food supplies and inflate food prices while inadvertently contributing to global warming?"

Important issues and questions for the future of nation states and our planet.

Nelson Graves