With emerging economies’ demand for food on the rise and food supply pressurized by extreme weather events, are we heading toward a global food crisis, as predicted by the United Nations? Or will new and improved modes of food production and marketing save the day? Throughout an eight course menu of debates, Debating Development will serve you a selection of expert speakers from international institutes, civil society and academia engaging with these and related questions. Our speakers will cover different topics, with food security as the central theme. The discussions will be moderated by the editorial staff of Mo* Magazine.

Tuesday 8 October - Small scale agriculture or agricultural industry: who will bring us enough food?

Vandana Shiva (environmental and global justice activist and writer, India) 
Alexander Woollcombe (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United Kingdom)
Moderator: Alma De Walsche

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that worldwide 870 million people were chronically undernourished in 2010-2012. The vast majority of these people live in developing countries.  Additionally, processes of urbanization, population growth and changing consumption patterns in upcoming economies are boosting food demands worldwide. Is the global food system capable of feeding all these mouths?

In this debate Dr. Vandana Shiva, an Indian environmental activist and eco-feminist, and  Alexander Woollcombe of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will discuss which agricultural model, small-scale or industrial, is most sustainable and appropriate to feed the world.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is trained as a Physicist but she later shifted to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy. Dr. Shiva has contributed in fundamental ways to changing the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food.  Her books, “The Violence of Green Revolution” and “Monocultures of the Mind” have become basic challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, reductionist Green Revolution Agriculture. In 1991, she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. For last two decades Navdanya has worked with local communities and organizations serving more than 5,00,000 men and women farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in conservation of more than 3000 rice varieties from all over the country and have established 60 seed banks in 16 states across the country.

Time Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as an environmental “hero” in 2003 and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia. In November 2010, Forbes magazine identified Dr. Vandana Shiva as one of the top Seven most Powerful Women on the Globe. Among her many awards are the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award, 1993), Order of the Golden Ark, the Global 500 Award of the UN, the Earth Day International Award, the Lennon ONO grant for peace award by Yoko Ono in 2009, the Sydney Peace Prize in 2010, the Doshi Bridgebuilder Award, the Calgary Peace Prize and the Thomas Merton Award in the year 2011, the Fukuoka Award  and The Prism of Reason Award in 2012.

Alexander Woollcombe leads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's UK and EU External Relations in London. He was previously the Senior UK Government Relations Manager as well as interim EU Director at the ONE campaign, an advocacy organisation founded by Bono and Bob Geldof that fights extreme poverty in Africa. Woollcombe has also worked for Oxfam in Ethiopia and Senegal on policy and communications. Prior to that, he worked for the Conservative Party, the EU and Peace Child International in West Africa, Brussels, India and South America. He holds an MA degree in History from the University of Edinburgh.

Shiva, V. The law of the seed, Navdanya Publications (2013)

Wegner, L., Zwart, G., Who will feed the world?, Oxfam Research Reports (2011)

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Agricultural Development - Strategy Overview (2013)

Renton, A., Townsend, M., Bill Gates: UK leading the way in tackling world hunger, The Guardian (2013)

Navdanya Publications

EU legislation on the marketing of seed and plant propagating material 

Interview Vandana Shiva by MO* Magazine


Tuesday 15 October - Food aid in conflict zones: curse or cure?

Zlatan Milisic (World Food Programme, Italy)
Simon Levine (Overseas Development Institute, United Kingdom) 
Moderator: Bert Jacobs
PPT Zlatan Milisic


Is the delivery of food aid in conflict zones a life saver or does it rather contribute to or even exacerbate existing tensions? In their mission to alleviate human suffering during complex emergencies, aid agencies claim to be neutral actors. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that food aid is often stolen and actually contributes to the provisioning of fighting parties. And what about the impact of food aid on the local economy? Do humanitarian arguments outweigh the risks and consequences of food aid in conflict zones?

In this debate, Zlatan Milisic of the World Food Program (WFP) will argue in favour of food aid in conflict zones whereas Simon Levine (ODI) will go deeper into the challenges and unintended consequences.

Zlatan Milisic is the Chief of Programme Guidance and Policy Service and Deputy Director of broader Policy, Programme Guidance and Innovation Division at the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations (UN). He holds a BA in Laws from the University of Sarajevo and an MA in International Politics and Security Studies from the University of Bradford. Mr. Milisic has been with the UN System since 1992, working primarily in humanitarian field operations. For the past 10 years, he has served as Country Director of WFP in Burundi, Somalia, Lebanon, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mali, and as Deputy Regional Director for Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia in Cairo, Egypt, before taking up his current position in March 2013. Mr. Milisic had extensive experiences in hunger and food insecurity issues in unstable and conflict environments in Bosnia, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, too. In the course of this work, he has cooperated substantially with other humanitarian organisations and actors, both at strategic and operational level. Mr. Milisic’s current work involves development of food security and anti-hunger policies and strategies, and guidance to make them operational, as well as direct advice, training  and support to implementing WFP and partner offices and staff, especially in the areas of humanitarian action and transitions, country capacity strengthening, resilience building and prevention and school feeding. Prior to his work in humanitarian operations and the UN System, Mr. Milisic had a short career as a lawyer.

Simon Levine is a Research Fellow at the Humanitarian Policy group at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), London, where he now worries most about livelihoods, protracted crises and resilience.  He worked on a variety of development programmes for NGOs for many years, usually in war and post-war contexts such as Mozambique, Cambodia and Burundi. He then spent nine years living in Uganda, working across Eastern and Central Africa and the Horn of Africa  specialising in livelihoods, vulnerability analysis and early response. In Uganda he also developed a passion for land rights, on which he worked extensively.  Since returning to England in 2010 to work at ODI, he continues to want the humanitarian system to get fixed.


Cohen, M. J., Marchione, T., Messer, E., Conflict: a cause and effect of hunger, ECSP Report 7 (2001)

Harvey, P., Proudlock, K., Clay, E., Riley; B., Jaspars, S., Food aid and food assistance in emergency and transitional contexts. A review of current thinking. ODI Synthesis Paper (2010)

Leriche, M., Unintended Alliance: The Co-option of Humanitarian Aid in Conflicts, Parameters 36/1: 104-120 (2004)

World Food Programme, Note on humanitarian access and its implications for WFP, World Food Programme Policy Issues (2006)

World Food Programme, Humanitarian Principles, World Food Programme Policy Issues (2004)

Tuesday 22 October - Insertion into global food value chains: boon or bane for developing countries?

Miet Maertens (KULeuven, Belgium)
Arne Schollaert (Oxfam-Wereldwinkels, Belgium)
Moderator: Maarten Lambrechts
ppt Miet Maertens

Thanks to globalisation, global food production networks and trade have spread and fragmented: now more than ever, producers, buyers, wholesale sellers and consumers of food are physically separated, operating in different corners of the world. Growing attention to food safety standards, labour conditions and the environment is changing the ways these value chains operate and are governed. As developing countries become active participants in increasingly modernised food value chains, especially on the production side, questions arise about the welfare implications this participation brings.

Our keynote, Miet Maertens (KU Leuven) has conducted research which suggests that high-value food supply chains may hold significant benefits for rural households in developing countries. Arne Schollaert (Oxfam WW) will bring to the table critical questions about the concentration of power in modern food value chains and the far-from-optimal conditions under which producers participate.

Miet Maertens is Professor of Bioeconomics at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering and a research fellow at LICOS (Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance), both of the KU Leuven. She holds Masters in Agricultural Engineering and Economics from the KU Leuven and a PhD degree from the Georg-August University of Göttingen. Ms Maertens's work includes research on land use, food standards, international trade and global value chains, with extensive fieldwork in South-East Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. She has published widely in internationally renowned journals and book volumes. A list of her publications and recent research projects she has been involved in can be found here.

Arne Schollaert is Head of the Policy and Development department at Oxfam Wereldwinkels (‘World Shops’). He holds a PhD in Social Economics from the University of Ghent. Mr Schollaert has worked with Oxfam on various fair trade campaigns, including GROW!, Behind the Brand and World Fair Trade Day. In his writings, Mr Schollaert has drawn attention to the dominance of large firms and power concentration in food value chains. For more information about the work of Oxfam Wereldwinkels, click here.  Twitter: @ArneScollaert.

Maertens, M., Minten, B. and Swinnen, J. (2012) ‘Modern Food Supply Chains and Development: Evidence from Horticulture Export Sectors in Sub-Saharan Africa’, Development Policy Review 30(4): 473-497.

Vorley, B., del Pozo-Vergnes, and Barnett, A. (2012) Small producer agency in the globalised market: Making choices in a changing world. IIED: London, HIVOS: The Hague. 

Barrientos, S. and Kritzinger, A. (2004) ‘Squaring the circle: Global production and the informalization of work in South African fruit exporters’, Journal of International Development 16: 81-92.

WTO video: Trading Safely: Protecting health, promoting development

Tuesday 29 October – Donor or competitor? European Agricultural Development Cooperation in Africa

Aloys Lorkeers (European Commission, Unit Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition)
Brecht Lein (European Centre for Development Policy Management, The Netherlands) 
Moderator: Stefan Anrys

ppt Lorkeers
ppt Lein


The European Union is one of Africa’s biggest partners in agricultural development and has a longstanding commitment to tackling global hunger. In its 2011 “Agenda for Change” it placed the development of sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition high on the agenda and through a variety of budget lines, such as the 1 billion euro Food Facility and the 230 million euro Action Plan on Food Security, it has put some of its money where its mouth is. But is it enough to make a difference?

To answer this question we have invited Aloys Lorkeers (European Commission) to comment on the EU’s role and actions in African agriculture development cooperation. He will also discuss how the development department coordinates its actions with other EU departments such as agriculture and trade. This  EU policy will then be discussed by Brecht Lein (European Centre for Development Policy and Management) who is a Junior Policy Officer at ECDPM. He specializes on the EU's Common Agricultural Policy and food security.

Aloys Lorkeers is a Dutch national, working for the European Commission’s Development and Cooperation Department where he specializes in rural development, food security and nutrition. He served as Kenyan desk officer for the Commission’s DG for development and was EIF donor Facilitator in Zambia, where he was responsible for facilitating donor coordination and dialogue between donors and the Zambian government on trade issues and development interventions.

Brecht Lein is a Junior Policy Officer at ECDPM and is a Belgian national with a Master of Arts in Modern History and in European Studies from the University of Leuven. He has undertaken fieldwork on EU development issues in Botswana and Zambia and has co-published with ECDPM work on the Common Agricultural Policy, and Policy Coherence for Development as well as of differentiation in EU development policy. In the past he
has given trainings to Luxembourg government officials in PCD. He currently follows Policy Coherence for Development and Food Security for ECDPM amongst other issues. As such he is currently involved in a research project for the OECD that aims to develop a methodology for country-level PCD impact assessments in the area of food security.

European Commission (2013) Agribusiness and Development: How investment in the African agri-food sector can help support development

Lein, B (2013) Between policy and practice: the EU Food and Nutrition Security Implementation Plan, Food Security, Policy Coherence for Food Security

European Commission (2013) Boosting food and nutrition security through EU action: implementing our commitments, Commission staff working document

Tuesday 5 November – The financialisation of food: opportunities and risks

Myriam Vander Stichele (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, The Netherlands) 
Thomas Van Rompuy (Febelfin, Belgium)
Moderator: John Vandaele 
ppt Vander Stichele

We frequently hear about the fact that food price trends have harmed consumers, especially in poorer regions of the world where hunger and undernutrition have always been severe problems, and have caused social unrest. While nobody doubts the impact of traditional demand side (e.g., changing consumption patterns in emerging economies) and supply side factors (e.g., natural disasters), the effect of speculation by investors in food-related derivatives may be less clear-cut, and is hence more controversial. In this debate we move beyond the very technical and rather blunt question of whether or not excessive financial speculation has been the key driver of food price rises and volatility, to a broader discussion of the role the financial sector plays, or could play, in global food markets.

Our keynote speaker Myriam Vanderstichele (SOMO) will give an overview of the different modes and instruments through which the financial sector increasingly participates in food markets and point to a number of risks this ‘financialisation’ of food poses. Discussant Thomas Van Rompuy (Febelfin), will then critically react and highlight a number of beneficial effects and possible opportunities associated with financial sector participation.


Myriam Vander Stichele is a Senior Researcher at the Amsterdam-based SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations). She holds a Master in History from the KU Leuven and an M.Phil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge. Since 1990 Ms Vander Stichele has been monitoring international trade negotiations and agreements between developed and developing countries, acting as a trade coordinator and advisor for numerous NGOs. More recently, her research has included analysis of financial services liberalisation, sustainable corporate and investment strategies, and financial sector involvement in food and other commodity markets. Her study reports and policy notes for SOMO are available here. Twitter: @SOMO


Thomas Van Rompuy took a Master Degree in Political Science and International Relations as well as a Master Degree in Policy Economics, Catholic University. In 2009, he took up the function of International Coordinator at the Federal Public Service for Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy in preparation of the Belgian Presidency of the European Council. In 2010, he started working for Akkanto as a Junior Consultant and was promoted to the function of Consultant in 2011. In 2012, he took up the function of Economic Affairs Advisor at Febelfin, the Belgian Financial Sector Federation. Febelfin represents more than 250 financial institutions which are active in Belgium, including banks, stockbrokers’ firms, lease and factoring companies, investment funds and institutions such as Euroclear and SWIFT. His current function is Febelfin Chief of Staff. In close cooperation with the Febelfin CEO and Chairman, Thomas is in charge of analysing and coordinating priority issues in the field of economics, corporate finance, banking, taxation and external communication. He also contributes to laying down the sector’s position towards the public authorities and various official institutions.

Kerckhoffs, T., van Os, R. and Vander Stichele, M. (2010) Financing Food: Financialisation and Financial Actors in Agriculture Commodity Markets. SOMO: Amsterdam.

Schaffnit-Chatterjee, C. (2011) Where are food prices heading? Short-term drivers, trends and implications. Deutsche Bank Research: Frankfurt Am Main.

Lallemand, B. (2012) Investing not betting: Making financial markets serve society. Finance Watch: Brussels.

Tuesday 12 November - Ethical issues in genetically modified food: values and risks of biotechnology

Luise O. Fresco  (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Barbara Van Dyck (independent researcher, Belgium)
Moderator: Alma De Walsche

In May 2011 a group of activists entered a piece of land in Wetteren, Belgium, where a genetically modified potato field trial was being carried out in order to protest against the uncritical use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for food commercialisation. This protest reflected wider concerns about the extent to which the proliferation of genetically modified food leads to farmers' dependency on large multinational companies, in a situation where GMOs’ risks for environment and public health are unclear and regulatory frameworks are still lacking. At the same time, a number of prominent scientists emphasise the potential of GMOs for increasing food security worldwide.

In this debate, Louise O. Fresco (University of Amsterdam) and bio-engineer Barbara van Dyck will touch on these and other critical issues as they discuss the benefits and pitfalls of GMOs.

Prof. Louise O. Fresco (1952) was appointed a University Professor at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in 2006. She has a strong commitment to international development, agriculture and food. Her career includes a PhD cum laude in tropical agronomy (Wageningen), chairs and lectureships at prestigious universities such as Uppsala, Louvain and Stanford, and leading positions within the FAO of the UN. Fresco has extensively published both in academic journals and in the popular media. As a leading thinker, she was invited to speak at the annual TED Conference in Palm Springs in 2009. Read more.

Barbara van Dyck is a researcher and activist. Motivated by a concern to understand and impact on social transformation, her research focuses on the political economy and the political ecology of development. She is active in networks that deal with issues of food sovereignty and that focus on the role of science in society. She has a PhD in applied economics (University of Antwerp) and is trained as an engineer in forest, land and urban management issues (Ghent University).



Azadi H., Ho P., Genetically modified and organic crops in developing countries: A review of options
for food security, Biotechnology Advances 28 (2010), 160–168

Franks, J. R. The status and prospects for genetically modified crops in Europe, Food Policy 24 (1999), 565–584

Tripp R., The debate on genetically modified organisms: relevance for the South, Overseas Development Institute Briefing Paper 1 (1999), January. 


Tuesday 19 November - How 'fair' is Fair Trade Food?

Sushil Mohan (University of Dundee, United Kingdom)
Lily Deforce (Max Havelaar, Belgium)
Moderator: John Vandaele  
ppt Mohan

ppt Deforce

Although Fair Trade Food still only represents a minor proportion of total food product sales, its recent growth and diversification have been remarkable. Especially among North American and European consumers there is much public support for the claims of Fair Trade Food: it guarantees farmers fair prices, a higher level of income security, and better labour conditions, thereby reducing poverty. However, these claims can be questioned. Does Fair Trade Food really alleviate poverty, to a greater extent than 'traditional' ways of producing food? To what extent does it benefit the “poorest” producers? Are there alternatives?

In this debate, Sushil Mohan (University of Dundee) who is the author of 'Fair Trade Without the Froth' will enter into discussion with Lily Deforce (Fairtrade Max Havelaar Belgium).

Sushil Mohan has an MSc in Industrialisation, Trade and Economic Policy and a PhD in Economics from Strathclyde University (Glasgow). Before joining academic economics, Sushil worked for over ten years at key levels in trade promotion agencies in London and India. He is currently a Senior Lecturer and Director of the MSc International Business Programme, University of Dundee. Mohan is author of the book “Fair Trade without its froth” (2010). His research interests include International Trade Policy; Agricultural Trade Liberalisation; Fair Trade and International Development.


Lily Deforce studied Bio-Engineering at Ghent University and holds a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Nebraska. After working in the private sector for a number of years, she decided to focus on something closer to her own personal values and started at the NGO Vredeseilanden. Since 2008, she is the General Manager of Max Havelaar, Belgium. This unique position enables her to contribute to poverty alleviation through trade, thereby integrating the private sector, politics and pressing issues of the Global South.


Ferrie J., Hira A., Fair Trade: Three Key Challenges for Reaching the Mainstream, Journal of Business Ethics (2006) 63: 107–118

Tallontire A., Challenges facing fair trade: which way now?, Small Enterprise Development (2002) 13-3: 12-24

Wilkinson J., Fair Trade: Dynamic and Dilemmas of a Market Oriented Global Social Movement, J Consum Policy (2007) 30:219–239





Tuesday 26 November - ANNO 2030: what to serve when you have nine billion mouths to feed?

Mark Post (Maastricht University, The Netherlands)
Arnold van Huis (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
Moderator: Alma De Walsche
ppt Post

With our global population set to reach close to 9 billion by 2030 and global meat consumption expected to double by 2050, the hunt is on to find new and sustainable ways to still the hunter-gatherer instincts that are driving a growing middle class around the world to these very inefficient sources of protein in the form of pre-packaged sirloin or sausage. Currently 70% of the world’s arable land is devoted to growing feed for livestock, and livestock furthermore emits 20% of all greenhouse gases. Since only 5 % of the population in industrialized countries seems to be amenable to vegetarianism, other breakthrough solutions are required. In this debate we try to think out of the box by inviting two international experts on alternative sources of proteins.

Our first speaker, Mark Post (Maastricht University), received international attention when he served the world’s first test tube burger in August this year. Using stem-cell research, he wants to move the meat industry out of the farm and into the lab. Our second speaker, Arnold van Huis (Wageningen University) firmly believes that eating insects is a healthy and delicious way out of a global food crisis. As the primary author of “Het insectenkookboek” he tries to break the Western taboo on the consumption of insects and will surely convince you to try a grasshopper or two.

Dr Mark Post received his medical degree from the University of Utrecht in 1982. After a brief period of surgical residence partly while in military service, he continued his PhD training in Pulmonary Pharmacology and graduated in 1989. He joined the Experimental Cardiology group of prof C.Borst to set up a Vascular Biology program and was from 1989 to 1996 senior investigator at the KNAW Interuniversity Cardiology Institute of the Netherlands. After some years in the USA, dr Post returned to the Netherlands in 2002 as a professor of Vascular Physiology at the Maastricht University and professor of Angiogenesis in Tissue Engineering at the Technical University Eindhoven. He is the Chair of Physiology at Maastricht University and vice dean of Biomedical Technology. His main research interests now involve skeletal muscle tissue engineering in order to create cultured consumption meat. This technology offers great opportunities for future meat production if culture efficiency and tissue mimicry can be achieved in a cost-effective manner.

Prof.Dr.Ir. Arnold van Huis worked from 1974 to 1979 in Nicaragua for the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on integrated pest management (IPM) in foodgrains. From 1982 to 1985 he coordinated from Niger a regional crop protection training project for eight Sahelian countries. From 1985 onwards he works as tropical entomologist at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and has been responsible for a number of IPM and biological control projects in the tropics. He currently coordinates an interdisciplinary project in Benin, Ghana and Mali entitled "Convergence of Sciences". He also coordinates a project in the Netherlands called "Sustainable Production of Insect Proteins". This project explores the potential of the sustainable production of high quality edible insects and insect-derived products, in particular proteins, from side streams (organic waste). He also serves as a consultant to FAO on insects as food and feed.

FAO (2013) Edible insects, Future prospects for food and feed security  

Marloes L.P. Langelaan, Kristel J.M. Boonen, Roderick B. Polak, Frank P.T. Baaijens, Mark J. Post, Daisy W.J. van der Schaft (2010) Meet the new meat: tissue engineered skeletal muscle, Trends in Food Science & Technology, Volume 21, Issue 2, Pages 59-66
Post, M.J. (2012) Cultured meat from stem cells: Challenges and prospects. Meat Science 92(3): 297–301.
Godfray HCJ, et al. (2010) Food security: The challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science 327:812–818.