Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

1. Global food security: new solutions for a cultivated planet

The World Summit on Food Security held in Rome (1996) aimed to renew a global commitment against hunger. The FAO called this summit in response to widespread under-nutrition and growing concern about the capacity of agriculture to meet future food needs of the Planet. The World Food Summit defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”.
Based on the FAO definition, food security is built on three main pillars: 1. Food availability: sufficient quantities of food must be available on a consistent basis; 2. Food access: sufficient and appropriate food must be available for a nutritious and safe diet. 3. Food use: food must be used appropriately based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, adequate water and sanitation.

Food availability relates to the supply of food through production (field crop production, storage, and processing), trade and marketing. Food production is determined by a variety of factors including land use, soil management and fertility preservation, water use, crop selection and management, and finally harvesting. Crop production can be negatively impacted by pests and diseases, as well as by changes in rainfall amount and distribution, and in temperatures (global warning). There is an urgent need to control these yield-reducing factors in such a way to reduce the enormous gap between potential and actual yield. 

In 2011, FAO published “Save and Grow” and proposed a new paradigm of intensive crop production, one that is both highly productive and environmentally sustainable. There is then the need of designing new agricultural systems, able to produce safe and nutrient food in adequate quantities while respecting the environment and the wellbeing of the agricultural workers and rural communities, as well as adapted to the different site-specific conditions of the different area of the world. 

Among the crucial issues to be discussed, we find the following:

  • Is there enough food in the world to feed everyone adequately? 
  • Can future food needs met by current levels of agricultural production?
  • How can we reduce the gap between potential and actual food production? 
  • Is it possible to increase food production in a sustainable way?
  • Is it possible to fight the negative effects of climate change on food production? 
  • Which processes are necessary for the development of new agricultural systems worldwide?
  • Local vs global food security: is it local food production paramount or no longer necessary because of global trade?

Chair: VITTORIO ROSSI, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore



Vittorio Rossi

Professor in plant pathology at the Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Department of sustainable crop production, in Italy.
His main research activity concerns the study of plant diseases as well as crop losses caused by them and food safety issues due to pesticide residues and mycotoxins. These studies were mainly aimed at: i) modelling the relationships between pathogens, host plants, and environmental conditions; ii) using models in decision support systems for sustainable crop production.
He is Member of the Plant Health panel of the European Food Safety Authority.