FSEP Key Speakers

Per Pinstrup-Anderson

Per Pinstrup-Anderson

Professor Emeritus and Graduate School Professor, Cornell University

Adjunct Professor, Copenhagen University

Food Systems for Improved Health and Nutrition

Most human health and nutrition problems in developing countries originate in food systems. The triple burden of malnutrition (dietary energy deficiency, nutrient deficiencies, and overweight, obesity and chronic diseases) affecting a very large share of the world population reflects decisions made in food systems. Policy interventions in food systems that change those decisions can play a major role in efforts to improve health and nutrition. Zoonotic microbes, which account for more than 50% of all human diseases and a large share of past and current human nutrition problems, including obesity and related chronic diseases, can be traced back to food systems. Interventions to influence the pathways through which food systems affect health and nutrition offer very promising opportunities for improving human health and nutrition. A clearer understanding of the causal links between food systems and human health and nutrition is needed to make health goals a more important driver of policies for food systems.
This presentation aims to identify the most important health and nutrition related drivers of food systems and the principal pathways through which food systems affect health and nutrition. Policy and program interventions that may strengthen the positive health and nutrition effects of food systems and reduce or eliminate negative ones are suggested.


Per Pinstrup-Andersen is Professor Emeritus and Graduate School Professor at Cornell University and Adjunct Professor at Copenhagen University. He is past Chairman of the Science Council of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and Past President of the American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA). He has a B.S. from Copenhagen University, a M.S. and Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University and honorary doctoral degrees from universities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland, and India. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Agricultural Economics Association. In addition to his 15 years as professor at Cornell University, he served 10 years as the International Food Policy Research Institute’s Director General and seven years as department head; seven years as an economist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Colombia; and six years as a distinguished professor at Wageningen University. He is the 2001 World Food Prize Laureate and the recipient of several awards for his research and communication of research results

Suresh Babu

Suresh Babu

Senior Research Fellow and Head, Capacity Strengthening – International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Global Food Security: Issues, Challenges and Capacity Options

Food security challenges remains at the global, regional, and national levels even after several decades of continued investment in the agricultural research to increase the productivity of the food crops. In addition new and emerging challenges such as increased globalization, food price volatility, protective food trade policies, and climate change continue to keep close to a billion people under food insecurity. What technological, institutional and policy innovations are needed to address the challenges? Interventions have worked and how to replicate and scale up these interventions? What food system governance and capacities are needed to address the challenges facing policy makers in developing countries. This presentation will discuss recent research results that address these issues and highlight research gaps for future research.


Dr. Babu was educated at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa (M.S. Economics and PhD Economics). Before joining IFPRI in 1992 as a Research Fellow, Dr. Babu was a Research Economist at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

Between 1989 and 1994 he spent 5 years in Malawi, Southern Africa on various capacities. He was Senior Food Policy Advisor to the Malawi Ministry of Agriculture on developing a national level Food and Nutrition Information System; an Evaluation Economist for the UNICEF-Malawi working on designing food and nutrition intervention programs; Coordinator of UNICEF/IFPRI food security program in Malawi. During 1989-1994, as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Malawi, he helped initiate post graduate programs by developing and teaching computer-based policy-oriented courses.

At IFPRI, he has been involved in institutional and human capacity strengthening for higher education and research in many countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, including, Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa for the past 23 years. He was IFPRI’s coordinator of its Central Asia program during 1997-2003 and the coordinator of the South Asia Initiative of IFPRI during 2001-2006. He leads IFPRI program on Learning and Capacity Strengthening. He was also the program coordinator for the Agricultural Open Curriculum and Learning Initiative (AGROCURI) a consortium of 40 partners from CGIAR centers, universities in developing and developed countries and international organizations. His current research includes human and organizational strengthening of food policy systems, policy processes, and agricultural extension in developing countries.

Dr. Babu has published more than 75 peer reviewed journal articles and authored or edited 14 books and research monographs. He was a coordinating author of the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment. He has been an honorary visiting professor at The Indira Gandhi National Open University of India, a guest professor at the China Center for Rural Development, Zhizhang University, China and an honorary professor of University of KwaZulu-Natal University in South Africa. He is currently on editorial board of 4 peer reviewed journals. He serves on several international advisory committees including, the Advisory Board of the World Agricultural Forum (www.Worldagforum.org).




Ross Welch Portrait

Ross M. Welch

Lead Scientist, USDA-ARSU.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory


Malnutrition is the leading cause of death in humans globally.  Both overt nutrient deficiencies and diet-related chronic diseases account for over 20 million deaths a year.  The causes of malnutrition are complex but are rooted in dysfunctional food systems dependent on agricultural systems that have never had an explicit goal of improving human nutrition and health.  These deaths are preventable.  Linking agricultural systems to human health could provide sustainable solutions to malnutrition.  Various agricultural tools can be used to improve the health and felicity of people afflicted with malnutrition.

Biofortification is one tool that is currently being employed to address micronutrient malnutrition among resource-poor families in the developing world.  Fertilizers provide another tool that has been used successfully to address selenium, iodine and zinc deficiencies in several nations.  There are numerous other “off the shelf” agricultural tools that could be used to improve the nutrient output of farming systems and improve the health all people dependent on agricultural systems for their sustenance.  These include: designing cropping systems to maximize nutrient output, using agronomic practices to improve the nutritional and health promoting quality of food crops, re-diversifying cropping systems, and genetically modifying crops to be more nutritious and healthy.  This can only be accomplished if explicit links are made between the agriculture, nutrition and health communities.  Further, government policies should be reoriented to reflect the important roles that agriculture plays in the health of all people.  We need to closely link agriculture to health if we want to find sustainable solutions to malnutrition globally.


Dr. Ross Welch was a plant physiologist and lead scientist at the USDA-ARS, Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health in Ithaca, New York (retired).  He is a Professor (Courtesy) of Plant Nutrition in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and a Guest Professor in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University and a Guest Professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.  He received his B.S. degree in soil science from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, CA in 1966.  He was awarded his M.S. (1969) and Ph.D. (1971) degrees in Soil Science/Plant Nutrition from the University of California at Davis, CA.  He has spent over 45 years studying the relationship of agriculture to human nutrition and health.  Much of his research career was focused on micronutrient malnutrition and finding ways to improve the nutritional quality of food crops.  He and his colleagues founded the concept of biofortification and were responsible for developing a global program (HarvestPlus) that is currently delivering micronutrient-rich staple food crops in Asia, Africa, South America, Central America and Mexico.

He was inducted into the Science Hall of Fame by United States Department of Agriculture in 2014 and is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America.  He received the N.E. Regional Research Award in 1992 from the Am. Soc. Agronomy.  In 2003, he was given the National Outstanding Senior Scientist of the Year Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.  He was promoted to Supergrade by the USDA in 2006.  He was selected the Robert Massee Lecturer at the University of North Dakota Medical School in Grand Forks, N.D. in 2002.  He was a Councilor on the International Council on Plant Nutrition and Councilor the International Council for Genetics and Molecular Biology of Plant Nutrition.  He was appointed a member of the National Program Advisory Committee for the HarvestPlus-China program.  He was a member of the editorial boards of several international scientific journals and a member of several editorial advisory boards.  He is a past President of Cornell Chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society.  He has published over 300 papers in referred scientific journals and has edited 9 books.

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