THE GOOD and the great of the foodservice industry gathered yesterday for Footprint Forum hosted by the US Department of Agriculture, opened with great aplomb by Deputy Chief of Mission Barbara Stephenson at the US Embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square.
Footprint’s objective to depolarise the GM debate and incubate fresh thought by debating GM in the context of sustainability in the foodservice supply chain was underpinned by keynote speakers Jack Bobo and Professor Ian Crute. Jack Bobo of the US State Department who is Senior Advisor to US Secretary of State John Kerry on bio technology talked of the importance of modern technology in agriculture and its place in making our supply chain more sustainable adapting to a modern world. Professor Crute, Chief Scientist of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board weighed up the pro’s, cons and opportunities that GM presents to a vast and complex global food chain.
Keynote speeches were followed by a fascinating panel discussion. The panel was representative of the whole food supply chain from seed through to operation. Paul Rooke, Sector Head of AIC Crop Marketing and Seed Sectors addressed consumer suspicion and cynicism around the subject. Westbury Street Holding’s Procurement and Supply Chain Director, Andy Milner emphasised the need for clearer guidance from government and opinion formers, whilst the Food Standard’s Agency’s Dr Sandy Lawrie talked of giving the consumer a choice through clearer labelling and the resulting opportunity of understanding consumer behaviour around GM. Nicole Patterson from Leatherhead Food Research reflected on the lack of consumer understanding whilst Charles Bourns, a farmer and Chairman of the NFU’s National Poultry Board, talked about the very real dangers that the lack of consumer knowledge has to agricultural businesses. Charles also talked about the hindrance in progress due to political complexities in the EU.
True to form, Footprint Forum was an interactive debate with industry thought leaders and influencers sharing their own views and experiences.
As ever delegates congregated and networked over a glass of wine in the Embassy’s reception area where lively debate continued.
Full report will be published in the March issue of Footprint