After my George McGovern lecture at FAO, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in Rome, Ertharin Cousin, thanked me for speaking and then told the audience that the opinions expressed in my talk were mine alone and did not represent those of the U.S. government.
The main point of my talk was that hunger, obesity, and food safety are social rather than personal problems and require social rather than personal solutions. If such problems are individual, they can be solved with technical interventions such as functional foods, commercial weaning foods, irradiation, and genetically modified foods. But if we view them as social problems, we need to find solutions that involve sustainability, social justice, and democracy.
For example, we know how to end hunger:
• Clean water and safe food
• Empowerment of women
• Community food security
• Sustainable agriculture
• Political stability
These are social interventions. Technical solutions do not enter into them except in emergencies.
I praised the Obamas for leadership in promoting sustainable food production, and ended my talk with this image. I left it up while I was answering questions but the ambassador asked to have it turned off.