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The George Washington University Launches “Feeding the Planet” Initiative to Identify Innovative Solutions in Global Food Production and Nutrition Security

With Major Funding from Land O’Lakes, Inc., Initiative Will Feature Strategic Partnerships and National Summit in D.C.
May 14, 2013

MEDIA CONTACTS: Kurtis Hiatt
202-994-1849; kkhiatt@gwu.edu
Jill Sankey
202-994-6466; jpsankey@gwu.edu

WASHINGTON— By 2050, close to 9 billion people will live on planet Earth and these global citizens will need twice as much energy, 40 percent more water and 70 percent more food than we have today. In anticipation of these changes, Planet Forward, a dynamic online social network produced by the George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, with significant support from Land O’Lakes, Inc., will launch Feeding the Planet: Innovations in Food Production.

“Feeding the Planet is one more way we are working with students, professionals and leaders in the field to use media in creative ways to engage, teach and inform policy makers and the public,” said Frank Sesno, director of GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs and creator of Planet Forward. “The project reinforces GW's position as a leader, researcher and convener in innovation and sustainability.”

The first year of this ongoing initiative will feature:

  • Four gatherings convening high-level policy makers, experts and thought leaders with a range of experiences and perspectives for an open exchange of ideas
  • An Oct. 30, 2013 summit in Washington, D.C., featuring leaders from various government, academic and industry sectors
  • A summer fellowship offering GW students the opportunity to travel internationally to find and report captivating stories of innovation in food production


“Land O'Lakes is pleased to support Feeding the Planet,” said Chris Policinski, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “Assuring food security for the growing global population is a vital topic that has broad implications for world stability. Finding and deploying innovative, efficient and sustainable methods of food production will be critical if we are to meet the rapidly growing need for food and nutrition worldwide.”

Among the issues Feeding the Planet will consider are the challenges and innovations in food production, communications technology, plant and animal science, nutrition and supply chain management. Additionally, three recurring themes – gender, changing tastes/nutritional needs and climate change – will be woven through all aspects of the initiative.  Feeding the Planet will devise strategies to better communicate these issues to the public and policy makers through digital and social media elements. GW will also produce a multimedia report summarizing the observations, outcomes and research assembled from the Feeding the Planet gatherings to extend the impact of the project.

In addition to funding from Land O’Lakes, Feeding the Planet will receive financial support from CropLife International and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Strategic partners include the World Food Program USA, Second Nature and National Geographic.

“Hunger is a solvable problem and innovative technologies and practices allow us to be confident that we can feed and nourish a growing population,” said Rick Leach, president and CEO of the World Food Program USA. “The Feeding the Planet initiative will help shine a spotlight on these innovations and the progress being made in addressing global hunger.”

The School of Media and Public Affairs is dedicated to the rigorous study of journalism and political communication with a focus on understanding the impact media have on how societies inform and govern, connect and communicate. As media undergo transformational change, SMPA’s goal is to advance both theoretical insight and innovative practice. SMPA conducts groundbreaking research, offers inspiring teaching, encourages hands-on work in the field and in our production facilities and engages directly with thought-leaders in Washington, D.C., and around the world.

Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America’s premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from farm production to consumer foods. With 2012 annual sales of more than $14 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation’s largest cooperatives, ranking in size at #194 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 92 years of operation, Land O'Lakes today includes some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. The Land O'Lakes International Development division is one of the major agricultural outreach and food aid programs in the world. Since 1981, this division has helped generate economic growth and improve the quality of life for millions of people through more than 275 projects in 76 developing nations. Land O'Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, MN.

World Food Program USA (WFP USA) works to solve global hunger, building a world where everyone has the food and nutrition needed to lead healthy, productive lives. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) works in over 75 countries, saving lives in emergencies, providing school meals to hungry children, improving nutrition of the most vulnerable people at critical times in their lives and helping build the self-reliance of people and communities. WFP USA works together with WFP to solve hunger globally through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States.

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