East Anglia: Eminent agricultural scientist in call for end to unsustainable lifestyles

A world-renowned agricultural scientist will call for an end to unsustainable lifestyles and unacceptable poverty at a talk at the University of East Anglia on Friday.

Prof Monkombu Swaminathan has been named by Time Magazine as one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th century and is widely credited as being the ‘father of the green revolution’.

The lecture will see him talk about how to reverse the co-existence of hungry millions and grain mountains in the developing world as well as the importance of reducing crop price volatility.

Prof Swaminathan will also discuss the impact of climate change and the recent Rio +20 conference. And he will call for improved defences against floods and tsunamis in India and address the worth of genetically modifying crops to improve their tolerance to sea water.

He said: “In countries like India, as well as sub-saharan Africa, agriculture is not just a food producing machine – it is the backbone of the livelihood security system for a vast majority of the population. Efforts to produce more food, fodder, fibre, fuel and other farm commodities should be based on environmentally sustainable practices.

“We must also meet the challenges arising from global warming and climate change. Steps must be taken to face the problems of drought, flood, high mean temperature and sea level rise. We need an interaction between public policy and technology.

“Only ending unsustainable lifestyles and unacceptable poverty can lead to a happy life for all on spaceship earth.”

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Prof Swaminathan is a strong advocate of sustainable development, conservation and biodiversity. As an eminent agricultural scientist and nominated Member of Parliament, he has published widely he has published widely, and won numerous awards for his contribution to the environment and food security including the first World Food Prize in 1987.

He will present the university’s annual Piers Blaikie lecture – a series established in honour of the work of the professor who joined UEA in 1972 and went on to pioneer research in the field of political ecology and politics of the environment.

‘Do Ecology’ – The Pathways and Politics of a Green Economy takes place at 11.30am on July 20 in UEA’s Thomas Paine Lecture Theatre. Prof Swaminathan will go on to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from the university on the same day.