Keenum in Washington to discuss global food issues

During an international symposium Tuesday [May 24], Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum will be among leaders examining progress of the government's global food security strategy.

The symposium is being convened by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which last year tapped the university leader for a three-year appointment on its advisory group.

The Washington, D.C., event at the Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center is co-chaired by former agriculture secretary Dan Glickman and Catherine Bertini, executive director of the United Nations' World Food Program. Keynote speakers include Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development; and current U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack.

Last fall, MSU established formal ties with the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) when Keenum signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on issues related to food safety and nutrition. The signing followed a summer visit to the Rome, Italy-based offices of the FAO, where he outlined the land-grant institution's capabilities for addressing these needs. MSU has also formed partnerships with World Food Program and other agencies to address similar issues.

Keenum said, "Our institutions of higher learning have knowledge and expertise pertinent to every aspect of the food chain, from the laboratory to the farm to the market to the table. We can be productive partners in advancing food aid programs and capacity development programs. I am pleased that Mississippi State is playing a leadership role in these initiatives."

In Washington, he will discuss how land-grant institutions can provide expanded assistance and outline specific Mississippi State initiatives, including development of new food products targeting malnutrition, as well as the creation of the MSU International Institute to better coordinate outreach and research.

Keenum noted the World Food Program estimates that more than a billion people--more than the combined populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union--currently go to bed hungry.

Also speaking Tuesday will be former U.S. senator Tom Daschle; Ann Veneman, former executive director of the U.N. Children's Fund and former agriculture secretary; Josette Sheeran, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program; and Ertharin Cousin, U.S. ambassador to the UN's Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

To follow the event on Twitter, see hashtag #GADISymposium.

Maridith Geuder | University Relations

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