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Impact

In order to develop and deploy agricultural biotechnology to meet the needs of farmers, rural communities and growing urban populations, there is a need for an international community of practice in biosafety risk assessment. The ILSI Research Foundation shares its scientific expertise by facilitating technical workshops, focusing on environmental risk assessment, problem formulation, mode of action and non-target organism testing.

Collaborators & Partners

US Agency for International Development (USAID), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), UNEP-GEF, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Indian Council of Agricultural Research and governmental ministries and departments in India, Bangladesh and Indonesia

Areas of Focus

In 2016, the ILSI Research Foundation undertook biosafety-related activities in India, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Paraguay. In 2017, the ILSI Research Foundation is continuing its biosafety capacity building through:

e-Learning Courses

Self-paced and interactive courses developed by the ILSI Research Foundation serve as supplemental training resources to in-person workshops.

South Asia Biosafety Program

Managed by the ILSI Research Foundation, SABP assists India and Bangladesh in further strengthening institutional governance of biotechnology.

UNEP-GEF Phase II Project

The ILSI Research Foundation provides technical support on risk assessment and risk management in South Asia.

Resources

Newsletters

Find out about the work being done through the South Asia Biosafety Program by reading our monthly newsletter.

e-Learning

e-Learning courses have been developed by the ILSI Research Foundation that focus on biosafety and biotechnology.

5th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference

Bangalore, India

Save the date for the 5th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference in September. Scientists, academics, researchers and officials from industry, research institutions, universities, government departments and ministries are encouraged to attend.

Read more

OECD Task Force on the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds

Paris, France

The ILSI Research Foundation will be attending the OECD Task Force on the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds, which works on technical issues related to the food safety of novel foods and feeds, including food derived from transgenic organisms.

Read more

Workshop on Phase II Capacity Building Project on Biosafety: Outcomes and Way Forward

New Delhi, India

At the request of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the ILSI Research Foundation provided technical support under the risk assessment and risk management component of the Phase II Capacity Building Project on Biosafety. MoEF&CC convened a culminating workshop in New Delhi to mark the completion of the Phase II project.

Read more

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Overview: At the request of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the ILSI Research Foundation provided technical support under the risk assessment and risk management component of the Phase II Capacity Building Project on Biosafety, including: workshops on problem formulation and other aspects of environmental risk assessment (ERA); a survey of the pipeline of genetically engineered crops in development in India; a comprehensive set of resource documents, including eight crop-specific biology documents; training materials related to ERA; and a study tour to share learnings with the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (Australia).

On March 15, MoEF&CC convened a culminating workshop in New Delhi to mark the completion of the Phase II project, including the launch of a new E-Application System and the release of publications arising from the project.

Program: The inaugural address was provided by the Chief Guest, Shri. Anil Madhav Dave, Hon’ble Minister Environment, Forest & Climate Change.  Dr. Amita Prasad, Additional Secretary, MoEF&CC spoke about the key achievements of the Phase II project, and Dr. Alex Owusu Biney, Portfolio Manager (Biosafety), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) discussed opportunities for continued collaborative engagement between UNEP and MoEF&CC on the topic of biosafety capacity building.  Each of the Phase II project partners, including the ILSI Research Foundation, shared progress to date as well as how biosafety capacity building in India can continue to be advanced.

ILSI Research Foundation Biosafety Capacity Building - UNEP GEF Phase II Project Summary

View the Project Summary

For more information, visit the UNEP-GEF Phase II Project Page or contact rf@ilsi.org.

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Speaker Presentations

About Agenda Abstracts Presentations Social Media About

We have an unprecedented global challenge - to feed a growing population and one that is increasingly living in urban areas.  It’s estimated that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will live in cities and much of this urban growth will take place in developing countries.  Food systems are transforming to meet demand in geographically dispersed towns, small and medium cities, as well as in mega cities (> 10 million people) which numbered 10 in 1990, 28 in 2014, and may be 41 by 2030.  Diets in poor, urban areas are changing as women enter the work force and seek out time and labor saving food options.  A growing and affluent middle class in Asia, Latin America and Africa is also driving significant changes in preferred foods, with increasing consumption of perishable foods like meat, dairy and fresh fruit and vegetables.

These and other drivers of food choice in low and middle income countries were explored in the ILSI Research Foundation Scientific Session on January 23, 2017, with presentations from experts who shared their research and perspectives on how we may address this global revolution in food systems.

Agenda

Click here to view the agenda.

8:30 Welcome and Opening Remarks

Dr. Adam Drewnowski
University of Washington

8:45 Keynote: Urbanization, Food Systems and the Diet Transformation in Developing Countries: What do we know, and what do we need to know?

Dr. David Tschirley
Michigan State University

9:30 Understanding Drivers of Food Choice in Diverse and Dynamic Settings: Conceptual and Methodological Innovations

Dr. Christine Blake
University of South Carolina

10:00 Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition Linkages: Lessons Learned and Emerging Priorities

Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

10:30 Break

11:00 Urbanization and USAID’s Value Chain Approach for Rural Economic Growth

Dr. Peter Richards
US Agency for International Development

11:30 Who Will Feed the World’s Cities? The Rural-Urban Convergence

Dr. Jessica Fanzo
John Hopkins University

12:00 Panel Discussion

Dr. Adam Drewnowski (Moderator)
Dr. David Tschirley
Dr. Christine Blake
Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala
Dr. Peter Richards
Dr. Jessica Fanzo

12:30 Adjourn

Abstracts

Please read the abstracts for the ILSI Research Foundation Scientific Session on Hungry Cities: The Global Revolution in Food Systems.

Keynote: Urbanization, Food Systems and the Diet Transformation in Developing Countries: What do we know, and what do we need to know?

Dr. David Tschirley
Michigan State University

Research over the past several years has begun to document a rapidly unfolding diet transformation across developing Africa and Asia, driven by income growth and urbanization.  Beyond the broad patterns of this transformation, the most notable finding is that the transformation is not limited to middle class and higher households in urban areas - these patterns are seen in rural areas as well as urban, and among low income households as well as those higher in the income distribution.  This finding suggests that enormous pressures of change are being felt now in agrifood systems as they attempt to respond to this rapidly rising and changing demand for food.  The presentation will review what is known about the process of change, and what needs to be known in order for governments and donors to develop effective policy and programmatic responses to this diet transformation.  The talk will focus especially on the “hidden middle” of the systems – the processing, logistics, and wholesaling operations that tend to be overlooked by both researchers and policy makers but whose performance is central to the effects of the transformation on local populations.

Understanding Drivers of Food Choice in Diverse and Dynamic Settings: Conceptual and Methodological Innovations

Dr. Christine Blake
University of South Carolina

Rapid changes in traditional dietary practices have led to increased consumption of industrially or locally processed foods.  Attempts to achieve ambitious goals to improve dietary intake have led to identification of key challenges, including recognition of limited knowledge about drivers of food choice, particularly among the poor in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Food choice is the process whereby people select, prepare, and consume food. The Food Choice Process model of Furst, Bisogni, Sobal and colleagues has guided research on individuals’ food- and self-schemas as drivers of food choice that reflect cultural perspectives on what is considered edible and more or less desirable.  Interpersonal factors drive decisions about food for the household, distribution among household members, and social settings for consumption.  The Drivers of Food Choice (DFC) Competitive Grants program funded by the Gates Foundation and UK DFIC seeks to contribute to our understanding of the drivers of food choice in LMIC, many of which are experiencing rapid urbanization and changes to agriculture and markets. The program will fund up to 15 projects in LMIC pursuing a diverse set of questions about environmental and individual drivers of food choice using both established and innovative methods. Understanding the individual and interpersonal drivers of food choices under traditional conditions in LMIC and how these choices are affected by the rapid social and economic changes occurring in many parts of the world is important for program planners and policy makers.

Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition Linkages: Lessons Learned and Emerging Priorities

Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

The commitment to strengthen the role of agriculture and food systems to optimize nutrition outcomes in low and middle income countries is evident in the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2).  Many publications have noted the potential for agriculture-food systems to influence nutrition on a large scale, while acknowledging uncertainty about how best to fulfill that potential.  This presentation will discuss the developments in our understanding-conceptual and empirical- of the interlinkages between agriculture-food systems and nutrition, the key gaps and conclude with some recommendations for policy and research.

Urbanization and USAID’s Value Chain Approach for Rural Economic Growth

Dr. Peter Richards
US Agency for International Development

In lower and middle income countries, family purchasing power has risen significantly over the past decade and a half.  Population shifts, including rural to urban migration and the rapid rise of cities, have also reshaped market structures, particularly for agriculture and food. These changes are creating tremendous new opportunities (and challenges) for rural areas. The US government’s Feed the Future initiative, in recognition of these changes, emphasizes a market-driven, value chain approach to rural economic development. This includes not only working across the extent of the supply chain, but an increased emphasis on (1) developing farm level technical and financial capacities, particularly for high value dairy, meat, and horticultural production; (2) increasing awareness and recognition of product standards, to ensure safety and facilitate downstream processing; and (3) enabling efficient documentary and regulatory environments favorable to small and medium agri-food enterprises.

Who Will Feed the World’s Cities? The Rural-Urban Convergence

Dr. Jessica Fanzo
John Hopkins University

By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas in search of employment and economic opportunities. Who will feed this exponentially growing population as rural societies begin to slowly disappear? Sixty percent of Africa remains rural and Asia, although rapidly shifting to an urbanized region, has approximately 50% who still live in rural areas. Rural development is an important part of the equation and investments in rural food systems are critical to sustainable development and feeding the world well. In many parts of the world, we are seeing encroachment of cities into peri-urban and rural communities with “ruralized” urban areas and “urbanized” rural landscapes. Although investments are cyclical and the urban-bias often dominates, there are important reasons to invest in rural development and support food hubs and food systems that harness this convergence. First, hunger and undernutrition dominates in rural areas (although also high in many urban slums), thus there is a need to invest in sound food security and nutrition strategies to tackle the burden to ensure that farmer families are healthy. Second, while urban agriculture holds some promise, rural landscapes still produce the majority of food around the world. Third, smallholder farmers have more diversified landscapes and produce approximately 60% of the world’s nutrients, making important contributions to the overall dietary diversity for the world’s population. Fourth, there are many successful examples of how, through better linkages with urban centers, rural development can feed these populated centers while jumpstarting entrepreneurship, empowering women, and sustaining rural livelihoods. This presentation will examine the diet and health consequences of urban migration and rural stagnation, and examples of how rural-urban cooperation can benefit health, economic and sustainable development of populations.

Presentations

Keynote: Urbanization, Food Systems and the Diet Transformation in Developing Countries: What do we know, and what do we need to know?

Dr. David Tschirley, Michigan State University (presentation)(video)

Understanding Drivers of Food Choice in Diverse and Dynamic Settings: Conceptual and Methodological Innovations

Dr. Christine Blake, University of South Carolina (presentation)(video)

Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition Linkages: Lessons Learned and Emerging Priorities

Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (presentation)(video)

Urbanization and USAID’s Value Chain Approach for Rural Economic Growth

Dr. Peter Richards, US Agency for International Development (presentation)(video)

Who Will Feed the World’s Cities? The Rural-Urban Convergence

Dr. Jessica Fanzo, John Hopkins University (presentation)(video)

Panel Discussion

The panel discussion included Dr. David Tschirley, Dr. Christine Blake, Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala, Dr. Peter Richards and Dr. Jessica Fanzo. It was moderated by Dr. Adam Drewnowski. (video)

Social Media

Start the conversation!

Hungry Cities: The Global Revolution in Food Systems, the ILSI Research Foundation Scientific Session at the 2017 ILSI Annual Meeting, is using Twitter to reach a global audience. This year’s session will address drivers of food choice in low and middle income countries.

Key Social Media Account

The ILSI Research Foundation Twitter handle is @ILSIRF
#ILSI17 is the preferred hashtag for the 2017 ILSI Annual Meeting.

Engage with Session Speakers

Dr. Christine Blake, University of South Carolina (@UofSC)

Dr. Adam Drewnowski (@DrAdamDrew), University of Washington (@UW)

Dr. Jessica Fanzo (@jessfanzo), John Hopkins University (@bermaninstitute)

Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (@LSHTMpress)

Dr. Peter Richards, US Agency for International Development (@Feedthefuture)

Dr. David Tschirley, Michigan State University (@foodsecuritylab)

Example Tweets

We have an unprecedented #globalchallenge - to feed a growing population and one that is increasingly living in #urban areas. #ILSI17
What is the impact of #urbanization on #food? By 2050, 66% of the world’s population is estimated to live in cities. #ILSI17
#Diets in poor, urban areas are changing as women enter the work force. #ILSI17 #Hungrycities
Join the conversation on #sustainable diets & #urbanization at #ILSI17 with @ILSIRF.
Find out about drivers of #foodchoice in low & middle income countries at the @ILSIRF #Hungrycities session. #ILSI17

Speakers

ilsirf2017_blakechristine

Dr. Christine Blake

Associate Professor, Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior,  Arnold School of Public Health
University of South Carolina

ilsirf2017_drewnowskiadam

Dr. Adam Drewnowski

Professor, Epidemiology, Director, Center for Public Health Nutrition, School of Public Health
University of Washington

SAIS

Dr. Jessica Fanzo

Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor, Ethics and Global Food & Agriculture
Johns Hopkins University

ilsirf2017_kadiyalasuneetha

Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala

Associate Professor in Nutrition-Sensitive Development, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

ilsirf2017_richardspeter

Dr. Peter Richards

Economic Adviser, Global Engagement & Strategy Team, Bureau for Food Security
U.S. Agency for International Development 

ilsirf2017_tschirleydavid

Dr. David L. Tschirley

Professor, International Development, Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics
Michigan State University

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Proposed Criteria for Identifying GE Crop Plants That Pose a Low or Negligible Risk to the Environment Under Conditions of Low-Level Presence in Seed

The low-level presence (LLP) of genetically engineered (GE) seeds that have been approved in the country of origin but not the country of import presents challenges for regulators in both seed importing and exporting countries, as well as for the international seed trade and the farmers who rely on it.

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Legacy Work

Strengthening the Capacity of Developing Countries in Biosafety Risk Assessment and Regulation

The Partnership for Biosafety Risk Assessment and Regulation (PBRAR) was active from 2011-2014, and was supported by a US $1.2 million grant from the Development Grant Facility of the World Bank. The Partnership was comprised of the ILSI Research Foundation, the Environment Directorate of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, and eight developing countries that have adopted, or are considering the adoption of, agricultural biotechnology.

In each of the partner countries, the PBRAR sought to strengthen the technical capacity of stakeholders engaged in biosafety risk assessment and regulation so as to facilitate evidence-based decision making.

Pakistan Grants Program: Scientific Support for Regulatory Decision Making

The Biosafety Research in Pakistan Grants Program, managed by the ILSI Research Foundation, supported research projects designed to improve understanding about environmental impacts of genetically engineered crops relevant to agricultural production in Pakistan.

Active from 2012-2014, 16 grantees from academic institutions worked to investigate the potential effects of genetically engineered crops on the agro-ecosystem, and build a knowledgeable community of practice to facilitate regulatory decision-making in Pakistan.