Will history repeat itself? For the sake of food security, let’s hope not

Monday, October 3, 2011

Alison Hebbs, Director, Policy and Communications
Canadian Federation for Humanities and Social sciences

Drawing from history, economics and political science and speaking with an infectious style, Dr Evan Fraser, Canada Research Chair in Global Human Security at the University of Guelph captivated audiences all over Ottawa with his assessment of the current global food crisis. And, by all over Ottawa, we mean just that. In less than 24 hours, Dr Fraser gave generously of his time and expertise to students and the general public at the Lieutenant’s Pump, to officials, senior civil servants and heads of NGOs and NPOs on Parliament Hill on Wednesday morning (early) and to City of Ottawa representatives also on Wednesday morning (later).

And just what was the impression he left on these audiences?

That history—the dust bowl era, previous droughts and famines—reveals a great deal and provides ample evidence to help inform our current policy setting when it comes to food security. He explained four different types of solutions that are oft debated and implemented when interventions are needed, described loosely as technocratic, bureaucratic, humanitarian and communitarian (the last one referring for local food movements and the like). While it is tempting to veer ideologically and practically toward one of these camps, he urges us to keep the lines of communication open between those who may be more supportive of one or the other of these—a solution will necessitate elements of all.

We have to agree and what better ambassador could such an effort have than Dr Fraser, who engaged, inspired and educated us during his brief but highly productive stay in the Nation’s capital.

Listen to the podcast of the Parliament Hill breakfast.