Feeding the population: A constant challenge

By Paul Brassley, Antoni Furió, Alessandro Stanziani, Nadine Vivier

Feeding human societies has always been the most serious challenge, and it became more acute with urban growth. The discussions of this roundtable aim at understanding how societies dealt with this priority. Looking back over the past centuries since the Middle Ages, it seems obvious that bad weather was not the only factor in food shortages. Most important were political choices, and among these, distribution mechanisms were decisive, be it the local market, the world market or the globalisation of trade policies. The second part of the roundtable focuses on the current situation. After 1950, with the population booming, agricultural production succeeded in feeding the population in spite of unprecedented population growth thanks to agricultural policies with economic and social aims, based on agronomic research. But today, intensive farming methods are revealing their limits and are rejected by European societies worried about the quality of their food, environmental protection and climate change.

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