Food & Nutrition Security – The Biosecurity, Health, Trade Nexus

13-14 December 2021, Canberra

Topic Overview

Overarching this year’s event is the coronavirus pandemic. However, even outside of such extreme circumstances, the vast increase in and growing complexity of international trade, travel, tourism and density of development have placed ever growing challenges on maintaining plant and animal biosecurity, halting the rapid spread of infectious diseases and strengthening the protection of biodiversity. 

Our conference will explore the specific risks to plant, animal, and human health, how these factors are impacting global food and nutrition security, and the emerging technological and management solutions to overcome these risks.

The emphasis will be on food systems, but we also see as important the way in which food production systems interact with human health in terms of zoonotic diseases and their spread. 

We also see a focus on biodiversity as important because natural systems may provide a reservoir of information and resources (e.g. genetic resources such as disease resistance, biological control agents etc.) that can be used to develop solutions for future proofing society against emerging risks.

Our conference, Food & Nutrition Security – The Biosecurity, Health, Trade Nexus is the perfect topic for pandemic times, with many biosecurity issues at the front and centre of local, national and international attention.

Our morning keynote speaker is Dr Prabhu Pingali, founding Director of the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition and board chair of the International Crops Research Institute of the Semi-Arid Tropics. He will set the scene and present the challenges facing world food production from existing and emerging pests and diseases of plants and animals. The major threats including their geographic occurrence and impacts on production, nutrition and health will be outlined, and the factors considered responsible for enabling plant and animal disease spread will be identified. The scientific innovations, policy and management practices that have, so far, assisted in overcoming or checking the prevalence and spread of pests and diseases; and how plant and animal disease can both directly impact human health and global food security and nutrition will complete this overarching address.

Our private sector keynote speaker is Mr Rob Kaan, Managing Director for Australia & New Zealand, Corteva Agriscience. He will consider how current threats and emerging issues are being managed by agribusiness and their complex supply chains. He will address questions including what measures and practices can the private sector implement to reduce risks and to what extent are partnerships with government policy makers required to facilitate this in developing countries? Are there already good examples of industry best-practice which can be scaled out elsewhere? And does industry have a corporate social responsibility role in protecting biodiversity to facilitate future adoption of improved biological control of threats?

Our overview speakers are:

  • Dr Rob Horsch, Advisor, Global Commission on Adaptation at World Resources Institute
  • Professor Andrew Robinson, Managing Director, CEBRA, The University of Melbourne
  • Professor Nicola Spence, Honorary Professor, University of Birmingham, Defra’s Chief Plant Health Officer and Head of the National Plant Protection Organisation

These eminent specialists will address future proofing with advanced and emerging technologies and tools; changing and increasing biosecurity risks to food and nutrition security, and unpacking the nexus in a changing world – the relationship between biosecurity, trade, health and environment.

Each of these overview sessions will include three rapid-fire case studies to illustrate innovative, interesting and diverse work underway to address challenges and solutions around the globe. These include Panama Disease, Fall Army Worm, African Swine Fever, antimicrobial resistance; and in-the-field diagnoses technologies.

By providing extended question and answer sessions and opportunities for informal networking, the Fund’s annual conference will again allow participants to contribute and to place food security issues into a context relevant to their lives and work.