Robynne Anderson's Emerging Thoughts on Ag

Circumcision and the Battle Against AIDS

Research conducted in part by Dr. Allan Ronald and the University of Manitoba, long ago showed reduced risk of AIDS transmission in circumcised men.  Despite subsequent recommendations by the World Health Organisation, countries have been slow to take up circumcision programming.  One of the arguments was that men might be less responsible in their sexual decisions.  New research shows that is not the case.  Let’s hope the natural protection circumcision offers, combined with good practices, makes a dent in AIDS transmission.


Fulton New CFS Secretary

Deborah Helen Fulton will be the new Secretary of the United Nations Committee on Food Security as of October. An Australian national, she was selected by a panel representing the Rome Based Agencies. As the secretariat for the private sector mechanism of the CFS, we look forward to working with her in the coming years.

Ontario Agri-Food Technologies Hires New President

I am heading to the BioEnterprise annual meeting, where I sit on the Board of Directors.  It is great to see that one of the fellow members of the Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre has appointed its new President.  The ATCC is a single point of contact for entrepreneurs, researchers, and companies (early-stage to multi-nationals) who are growing businesses in the cutting edge fields of agriculture and biotechnology, and BioEnterprise is a member.

You can find the press release here.


World Population Day

Today is World Population Day 2014 and the theme is “Investing in Young People.”
There are 1.8 billion people aged 10-24 in the world, making one quarter of the world’s population. This group comprises adolescents (aged 10-19) and youth (aged 15-24).
The proportion of the global population that is between the ages of 10 and 24 accounted for 28 per cent in 2010. While this proportion will decline in most regions in the coming 25 years, it will remain above 20 per cent in all regions except Europe until 2035, and above 30 per cent until 2035 in Africa.
Investing in young people today by promoting healthy habits and ensuring education and employment opportunities, access to health services, and social security coverage for all workers is the best investment to improve the lives of future generations.
It is particularly important for agriculture and we are thrilled to be working on talent development in sector, including through a special roundtable at the UN Committee on Food Security next year.

Local Trumps it All

“Local trumps organic; organic trumps natural; natural trumps ordinary.” It is a simple rule of thumb but speaks to the premiums grocery retailers can get for food products. During the Canadian Special Crops Association meeting, John Scott of the retail grocery sector talked about trends in consumer responses. This has been fuelled by the customers’ ability to get information about their food. “If it is not offered, they will go get it,” Scott says. Whether on-site with their phone or whether later on the computer, he notes consumers will fill gaps in information that food producers or retailers don’t provide.

He went on to observe some other key trends, including the rise in prepared food offerings in stores. This doesn’t mean food in a can; it means a hot roast chicken and a side of kale salad that is prepared and served that day. It is a new approach to convenience and it is changing the layout of the store. The central aisles of a grocery store with dry goods are under pressure and shrinking as more offerings are being made in produce, cheeses, and hot cooked/prepared food offerings that are the traditional “outer perimeter” of stores.