With the global population predicted to rise to 9.6 billion by 2050, we are facing an uncertain future. Humanity already uses the equivalent of 1.5 planet earths to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste, which at current rates could be 3 planet earths by 2050. The Mars, Incorporated Science Breakfast will feature a panel discussion with Professor Steven Chu (Nobel Laureate in Physics), Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro (Chief Agricultural Officer, Mars, Incorporated) and a selected young researcher, who will explore how the global food system will be able to sustainably provide for an extra 2 billion people in the next 35 years.
Moderated by Adam Smith (Chief Science Officer, Nobel Media), the panel aims to address the current failings of the food system and its sustainability—tackling topics such as energy use, water waste, land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions. The panelists will also discuss to what extent agriculture is both a victim and culprit of climate change and what this means for the sustainability of the planet.
Given the diverse background of the panelists, cross-disciplinary–cross-sector collaboration between governmental and non-governmental organizations, academics and corporations will be an important consideration when discussing how to bring about innovation that will create more productive, stable and equitable agricultural systems for future generations.
Professor Chu is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Humanities & Sciences and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for his research at Bell Labs developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. From 2009 to 2013, he served as the 12th United States Secretary of Energy and was a champion of renewable energies and new business models. He was the first scientist to hold the position and, during his time at the Department of Energy, the deployment of renewable energy in the USA doubled. Before his appointment by President Obama, Professor Chu was Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro has more than 35 years’ experience working with sustainable agricultural and agroforestry systems, plant systems, plant genetics, and food production systems across the world. In his role as Chief Agricultural Officer at Mars, Incorporated, Dr. Shapiro is responsible for the plant science of the company's primary agricultural products, as well as the investigation of potential new plant-based solutions. Dr. Shapiro directed Mars’ global cacao genome sequencing work, which was conducted in conjunction with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and IBM, and culminated in the release of the cacao genome into the public domain in 2010. Dr. Shapiro now leads Mars’ involvement in the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC), a cross-sector collaboration to sequence, assemble and annotate the genomes of 101 traditional African food crops to improve their nutritional value, productivity and climatic adaptability. Dr. Shapiro is also a senior fellow in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences and a distinguished fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi.
 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2013). World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, Highlights and Advance Tables. Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP.228.