The Chicago Council on Global Affairs announced the convening of an expert task force, ahead of the Global Food Security Symposium 2015 on April 16 in Washington, D.C., to examine the important role the agriculture and food system can play in promoting health and alleviating malnutrition. 

The task force -- which is made up of policy, business, civil society and scientific leaders -- will make the case for investing in nutrition and lay out opportunities for those working in agriculture and food to make healthy foods more widely available and affordable. The study is global in scope but will focus on low- and middle-income countries, where rates of stunting and malnourishment are highest and incidences of diet-related chronic disease are growing most rapidly. 

“Virtually every country in the world is dealing with health issues that are linked to nutrition,” said Ambassador Ivo H. Daalder, president of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “As we consider how to feed a more populated and affluent world sustainably, it is essential that the food produced be nutritious.”

The task force is cochaired by Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kansas, and Douglas Bereuter, former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Nebraska and president emeritus of the Asia Foundation. It is led by Catherine Bertini, distinguished fellow, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Generous support for the study is provided by Abbott at the lead level and National Dairy Council at the supporting level and by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Stuart Family Foundation.  A full list of task force members is below. 

“People’s diets largely determine their health,” said Dan Glickman. “In spite of this, making nutritious foods more available and affordable is rarely seen as a tool to prevent diet-related chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. This has to change.”

Malnutrition -- in all of its forms -- affects nearly every country in the world. Approximately two billion people are deficient in key micronutrients, and approximately 1.9 billion are overweight or obese. Incidents of diet-related chronic diseases are on the rise and are expected to be the leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.  

“The agriculture and food system has had great success in increasing production and widening distribution of food to feed a growing population,” said Douglas Bereuter. “This task force will provide new thinking on how to leverage the system to continue this success while more greatly improving health and nutrition.”

Leading up to the Symposium 2015 and report launch, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has launched a blog series to explore themes around the role of the food system in nutrition and health.  The blogs will be posted each Wednesday on the Council’s “Global Food for Thought” blog and available @GlobalAgDev.

This study builds on The Chicago Council’s global agriculture and food work that has informed policies on climate changescience and innovationinternational development and non-communicable diseases.

Task Force Members

Douglas Bereuter, President Emeritus, The Asia Foundation; former Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Catherine Bertini, Distinguished Fellow, Global Agriculture & Food, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, Maxwell School, Syracuse University

Ekin Birol, Head, Impact Research Unit, HarvestPlus, and Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute

Gebisa Ejeta, Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics and International Agriculture and Director, Center for Global Food Security, Purdue University

Cutberto (Bert) Garza, University Professor, Boston College; Visiting Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Visiting Professor, George Washington University’s School of Public Health

Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; former Member, U.S. House of Representatives; Vice President, The Aspen Institute; Senior Fellow, The Bipartisan Policy Center

Andrew D. Jones, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, University of Michigan

Shiriki K. Kumanyika, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania

Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children

Robert H. Miller, Divisional Vice President, Research and Development, Scientific and Medical Affairs, Abbott Nutrition

Namanga Ngongi, former President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa

Danielle Nierenberg, President, Food Tank: The Food Think Tank

Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Graduate School Professor and Professor Emeritus, Cornell University and Adjunct Professor, University of Copenhagen

Beth Sauerhaft, Senior Director Corporate Sustainability, Corporate R&D, PepsiCo

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO and Head of Mission, Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network

Robert L. Thompson, Visiting Scholar, John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies; Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois

Ann M. Veneman, former Executive Director, UN Children’s Fund; former Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Derek Yach, Executive Director, The Vitality Group