University hosts United Nations food economy expert for public lecture

World food crisis expected to continue with higher prices, volatility in domestic markets

11/7/2011 | By: Mike Wolterbeek  |

A presentation on the world food crisis will be given by David Dawe, senior economist with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, on Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Redfield Auditorium in the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

"Science is driven by a quest for discovery and knowledge and sometimes with the benefit of solving society's problems," Jeff Thompson, dean of the College of Science, said. "We're very proud to be sponsoring a speaker in the Discover Science Lecture Series who has spent his career working to solve a fundamental societal problem - world hunger."

Dawe, who is based with the United Nations in Thailand, will talk about what caused the world food crisis that occurred in 2006-08, and how it affected poor people in developing countries.

"The world food crisis was a serious setback to the nutritional status of millions around the world," Dawe said. "In the short term, higher food prices generally increase poverty and food insecurity. Even short-term price changes can have permanent effects on child nutrition and future cognitive development."

After two decades of relative stability on food markets, the world food crisis erupted in 2006-08, Dawe said. The crisis was caused by a large number of factors: higher oil prices, liquid biofuels policies, economic growth in developing countries, lower levels of food stocks and trade policies, among others. Higher and more volatile food prices are expected to continue in the medium term.

"Agricultural research, science and technology can play a key role in improving food security in the future," he said.

Dawe has been conducting agricultural and food policy analysis and research for more than 15 years, much of it concerned with Asian and world rice economies.

His undergraduate degrees are in biochemistry and economics from University of California, Los Angeles and he has a masters degree and doctoral degree in economics from Harvard. He is an expert in agriculture and food policy and their effect on societies in developing countries, including trade and marketing, nutrition and natural resource management.

Other renowned scientists who will bring their knowledge to the community in the Discover Science series of lectures include:

Dec. 8 - Harry B. Gray, founding director of the Beckman Institute, California Institute of Technology.

Feb. 9 - Jeff Lieberman, musician, artist, researcher and host of "Time Warp" on the Discovery Channel.

March 1 - Naomi Oreskes, author, professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego.

All lectures will be held at 7 p.m. in the Redfield Auditorium, Davidson Mathematics and Science Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. Admission is free. Parking is reserved for the event on the upper level of Whalen Garage. For more information, call (775) 784-4591 or visit the College of Science website.


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