The role of science in agriculture, water security issues, consumer interest in food production practices, pollinator health and the emergence of farmer as CEO are just a few of the topics featured at the 9th Annual Ag Issues Forum, sponsored by Bayer CropScience.

The challenge facing agriculture is a formidable one: meet the food, fiber and fuel needs of more than 9 billion people by 2050, all while minimizing the environmental footprint of farming, explains Jim Blome, chief executive officer, Bayer CropScience North America.

"What's in play here is really a question of global food security," he says. "By convening this annual event with thought leaders from production, consumer and environmental organizations, our goal is to open a dialogue around the collaboration needed to drive true innovation."

Among those thought leaders is Julie Borlaug, associate director for external relations at The Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. In her keynote address, Borlaug addresses the essential role innovation has played in the development of food production practices.

"It was the radical thinking of the leaders of The Green Revolution that led to the agricultural production breakthroughs that addressed global hunger issues in the 1960s," says Borlaug.

"Once again, we're poised on the brink of a revolution, one that will allow us to meet the looming threat of food insecurity head on." She adds that finding solutions to current and future challenges will demand new approaches to innovation and collaboration.

Other speakers at the event included Dr. Lowell Catlett, Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State; Dennis Dimick, executive editor, Environment, National Geographic Magazine; and representatives from MillerCoors, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, the National Cotton Council and The Pollinator Partnership.

More than 60 representatives from consumer, environmental and agricultural groups, as well as members of the media, participated in the invitation-only, two-day event. Plans are currently underway for the 10-year anniversary of the event, which will be held Feb. 24-25, 2015, in Phoenix, Ariz.