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Sustainable innovation and the future of food and farming

Sam Eathington, executive vice president at Corteva Agriscience

The future of food and farming has never been more important. The reasons are well documented and while they’ve been discussed many times, it’s worth repeating to remind us of the need for urgent action.

First, global food demand continues to rise as our population increases.

Second, consumer expectations for a responsibly-sourced and sustainably-produced food supply also continue to increase.

Finally, our natural resources, including the land available for food production, are limited.

At the same time, climate change is having an impact. Pressures from insects, weeds, diseases and extreme weather are increasing. All of which rob the productivity of each acre in food production.

In short — farmers and society need improved products that solve farm level and field-level specific challenges all while helping improve the overall sustainability of agriculture.

Reducing farm productivity will not help us overcome the global challenges I just laid out. We need to find solutions to minimize agriculture’s environmental footprint while ensuring we have a safe, affordable and abundant food supply.

via Corteva

Sustainable innovation

At Corteva, we’re doing that through sustainable innovation. We’ve committed that the new products we create will be better in key sustainability criteria versus current products. Our criteria, which are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, range from improving water quality and water-use efficiency, to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to protecting biodiversity. And we’re on track to achieve this goal in 100 percent of our products by 2025.

The new products we create will be better in key sustainability criteria versus current products.

New breeding techniques also represent a more efficient and targeted means to developing agricultural solutions to these evolving challenges. They hold great promise, if supported by regulatory frameworks.

We encourage an appropriate, science-based regulatory approach for plants developed with new breeding techniques. We believe that regulatory oversight should focus on the characteristics of the product, and not the process by which it was created. The characteristics of the plant and its genes, not the production method, determine its safety.

New breeding techniques are truly a revolutionary approach, and one we believe in so strongly that we’ve made the technology widely available and accessible. Today, we’re working with a number of global stakeholders, subject matter experts and non-profits to provide access to CRISPR technology. Open innovation today is essential to help deliver what’s needed for the food systems of tomorrow.

New breeding techniques are truly a revolutionary approach, and one we believe in so strongly that we’ve made the technology widely available and accessible

via Corteva

Solutions that support farmers and consumers

Innovation from our plant breeding team is helping advance the corn silage market in Europe. M3 Silage Corn products have more silage yield resulting in more energy and more milk production, all while decreasing CO2 equivalent emissions compared to equivalent products. This is a win for food production, energy production and the environment.

We’re also working to adapt soybean varieties to make them more suitable for growing in the higher latitudes of Europe. Both would contribute to the EU’s Protein Plan, and soybeans as a nitrogen-fixing crop, also support sustainability targets.

I’m confident that our own investments in innovation have been moving — and will continue to move — toward greater sustainability for agriculture and food systems around the world.

Collaboration is key

It’s a pivotal time in agriculture. The future of food production hinges on delivering new tools and technologies to farmers that solve problems for their operations and support a more sustainable agricultural system. I’m confident that by working together with farmers, we can create a food production system fit for the future. Through collaboration, we can advance our shared goals and deliver against this grand challenge.

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