IBERS’ Scientist Addresses Global Food and Water Security Issues in China
Dr Glyn Jenkins, Senior Lecturer in Genetics from the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University has recently returned from a visit to China where he was invited to deliver guest lectures on “Securing Global Food and Water Supplies in the 21st Century” at the University of Science and Technology, Beijing and at Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology.
In the context of the world’s growing population and changing climate, meeting the increasing demand for food and water is one of the most important challenges of the 21st century. Humanity’s track record in meeting this need is not good, and has been put recently into sharp focus by the following statement from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations: “2009 has been a devastating year for the world’s hungry, marking a significant worsening of an already disappointing trend in global food security since 1996.” There are of course no easy solutions or quick fixes, and governments around the world recognise that tackling this threat effectively is going to be dependent upon an understanding of the interplay between political, economic, social and scientific factors at local and global levels.
Dr Jenkins’ lecture addressed some of these issues from a number of viewpoints. From his own personal research into the genetic improvement of a major cereal, he showed how this is contributing to the food security agenda of the 21st century. In addition, he also made reference to the new multi-disciplinary MSc in Food and Water security which is being developed at Aberystwyth University to train students to understand and to handle these important issues.
Dr Jenkins addressed very interested and receptive audiences at both institutions in Beijing and Xi’an and was impressed with the enthusiasm and knowledge which the student audience possessed.
These guest lectures were supported by the British Council in Beijing and by the Welsh Assembly Government’s “Discover Wales 111” initiatives, and were part of an extensive programme of activities co-ordinated by the International Office at Aberystwyth University.