Declaration of Iowa
For a Better World, Now
The increment in food production to guarantee food security for humankind; the growth in sustainability of food chain value in productive processes; the optimization in the use of natural resources, especially considering reduction in emission of Greenhouse Gases; special attention to water saving management. All of the aforementioned are, undoubtedly, the great challenges of the 21st Century.
The success in meeting these challenges will determine our course in the civilization process in the coming decades.
For nations located in tropical zones of the planet, agriculture and its chain value can represent a powerful tool of social inclusion and poverty reduction. It is the fastest and most solid path to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) established by the UN for 2030.
In a world in which civilization has achieved so much, famine scenarios in the 21st Century are just unacceptable. Each and every day the scenario for the demand of food designed by the studies of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) increases.
The populational growth (from 7 to 9.8 billion, in 2050); the growth in income, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America; and the growth in longevity has created a challenging, and converging, point in the history of the peoples of the planet.
The overall picture on demand is equally worrying. The countries in temperate climate are already close to the growth limits oriented by many factors, amongst them the unavailability of land for Agriculture and Livestock. Many vectors point to the tropic zone as the primary supply source in the planet, as advocated by Norman Bourlag, Nobel Peace Prize winner, when it comes to investment in research of tropical Biomes.
The first stage in the perspective seen by Mr. Bourlag has been reached. In the past 40 years, Nations like Brazil have left the condition of liquid food importer for that of leader in the field of demand, the aforementioned change stemming from a model of increasing sustainable Tropical Agriculture.
It is calculated that the real decrease in food prices in Brazil, in the 1975-2005 period, has been that of 5% a year. In other words, Science, Technology andInnovation form the basis for Sustainable Tropical Agriculture, and this tripod is directly responsible for the initiated path of food democratization in an unheard of quantity and speed.
Now what needs to be done is to take a second, and more relevant, leap in the History of the mitigation of hunger in the world. It is necessary to protect the low income population from, once again, being victims of prices that make it impossible for them to consume food and protein from animal origin.
We won’t be able to take this leap without more Science, starting with more knowledge on Tropical Biomes. It is essential to develop Technologies the lead to the production of new levels ofproductivity and sustainability, and its consequences about the rational use of earth, water and other resources.
It is crucial to engage youth in the Innovation area, fostering the creation of Start- Ups that imprint a new productive rationality, and also the well-being of work conditions for the rural worker. Science, Innovation and Technology are the tools to build a better world and are, especially, tools for the sustainable development of Tropical Nations. They make it possible for the probable overcoming of some problems that are current themes in humankind, such as the migratory phenomenon and terrorism.
The scientists who signed this declaration are committed to the fostering of a dialogue environment between Science and Society. They aim at contributing to make clear the benefits that the investment in Research has generated, and generates still, for humankind’s quality of life, and its relationship with the planet.
Over the last decades, Brazil has organized and consolidated a scientific infrastructure close to a form of art in regards to Tropic Agriculture and
Livestock. It is only natural that the technical-academic sector offers to host a net research system capable of stimulating sustainable food production in the African and Asian conditions as well.
Thus, in a practical and direct manner, the knowledge gathered in the realm of Agricultural Tropical Sciences could be put to the service of poverty mitigation and social inclusion in Developing Nations. It is interesting to point out that in this context, the Brazilian Biomes Savannah (in Portuguese “Cerrado”), the Amazon, the Semiarid, the Atlantic Forest (in Portuguese “Mata Atlântica”), the Wetlands (in Portuguese “Pantanal”) and the Prairies (in Portuguese “Pampas”) – have similar contexts in other continents of tropical zone and in neighboring countries.
For such a thing to take place, it is necessary to recompose the visibility and the weight of the scientific content in the global debate, as well as in society. It is innate in scientific activity to work with complex data, some of which are, many times, difficult for the general masses to comprehend. It is up to science and scientists to foster and facilitate the comprehension of scientific research with the general public – the final consumer –, taking into account the new environment originated by the introduction of new Technologies in Communication.
In this path lies the utmost important task of all, which is the deepening of the scientific assessment of the processes – this will always be the strongest argument.
It is crucial to decode complex information, translating it to more humanistic terms, in the different cultural universes, to reveal the correct significance of the economic, social and environmental achievements stemming from scientific effort throughout time.
This perspective builds a common, local, national and global sense of belonging. Intensifying food production, generating wealth and amplifying sustainability are not local projects.
For more Basic Science, especially the one that contributes to the understanding of the Biomes, its limits and potentials.
For more dialogue and openness; for more articulation between research and universal values, currently shared in real time.
For more Applied Science, in coming up with solutions for the demand of companies and society.
In these hard times in current World History, where there is a sharp decrease in investigative research, the integration between Science, Nature and Development can be a message and an instrument of hope, peace and harmony between the peoples of the world.
For a better world now!
This statement was presented by Brazil’s former minister of Agriculture, Alysson Paolinelli, at the World Food Prize, Des Moines, Iowa (USA). October 18, 2017