IACBR pre-conference, co-organized by AIC Associate Director Julian Alston, brings together perspectives from farming, food technology, economics, government, and global aid on the outlook for our agricultural future

The International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR) is an interdisciplinary group of scientists that has gathered each year for the past two decades to discuss a broad variety of scientific perspectives on the global food and agriculture industries, and this summer’s twentieth annual conference was attended by more scholars than any other in the organization’s history.

Leading off the program was a June 26 pre-conference workshop, entitled “Financing Innovation for Agriculture, Food, and the Bioeconomy: Business as Usual?” The full-day workshop was organized by Alston along with Davide Gaeta of the University of Verona and Sara Savastano of the World Bank and University of Rome Tor Vergata, who was also the lead coordinator of the entire Ravello conference.

The workshop program featured 16 of the world’s leading agricultural economists, policymakers, research scientists and industry leaders. What resulted was a frank, open, and intellectually challenging discussion of the changing global landscape of public and private investment in food and agricultural research and development. Framing much of the dialogue was the question of how technology, education, capital markets, and other public resources can be best employed to meet the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population, which is projected by the UN to reach eight billion by 2025.

In addition to the three organizers, speakers included Philip Pardey, Professor of Science and Technology Policy in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota; Keith Fuglie, former branch chief at the USDA Economic Research Service; Gordon Rausser, Robert Gordon Sproul Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of California, Berkeley; Robert Goodman, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Rutgers University, Professor Richard Gray of the University of Saskatchewan; Rick Roush, Dean of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences; David Zilberman, Professor and Robinson Chair in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California at Berkeley; Carolina Navarrete-Frías of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT); Harvey Brooks, General Manager of the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission; Jo Swinnen, Professor of Economics and Director of the LICOS Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance at KU Leuven, former Lead Economist at the World Bank and Economic Advisor at the European Commission; Robert Paarlberg, Betty Freyhof Johnson ’44 Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College and author of Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa; and Howard-Yana Shapiro, Global Director of Plant Science and External Research for Mars Inc. and one of the world’s foremost food scientists.

Financial support came from the Fondo paritetico interprofessionale nazionale per la formazione continua in Agricoltura (ForAgri) and the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.