Steve Searcy 2017-12-19 00:55:02
ASABE at the World Food Prize, Ethical Dilemmas, and the Beauty of our Work In October, I had the honor of representing ASABE at the Borlaug Dialogue. The highlight was the awarding the 2017 World Food Prize to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank. Dr. Adesina, who holds a PhD in agricultural economics from Purdue University, was recognized for aiding the smallscale farmers of Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. As Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, he introduced the E-Wallet system, which broke the back of corrupt elements that had controlled the fertilizer distribution system for 40 years, demonstrating that access to technology (cell phones and electronic commerce) can address long-standing challenges to food production and poverty. The 2017 Borlaug Dialogue was themed “The Road out of Poverty.” As part of our ongoing Global Engagement Initiative, ASABE organized a side event in partnership with the Council on Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). We hosted a panel discussion, “Designing the Road out of Poverty,” and gathered a distinguished international and multi-disciplinary group to discuss the importance of access to food, water, and energy in enabling people to bring themselves out of poverty. You can view the discussion at www.youtube.com/watch?v=byG-MVeOxzE. This was the first activity that ASABE has organized at the Borlaug Dialogue, and it had the intended impact of gently raising the visibility of our Society. As I spoke with attendees following the event, there were two common themes: an appreciation for the importance of the topic, and a lack of awareness of ASABE. We need more outreach activities like this to raise awareness of our contributions toward feeding the world. This issue of Resource contains an interesting juxtaposition of content. ASABE’s annual recognition of outstanding new products, the AE50 Awards, highlights some of the latest advances in the food and agriculture industries. Many of these products rely on software and electronic systems to improve efficiency and productivity. Also in this issue is the winning essay from the 2017 Ag & Bio Ethics Essay Competition for our pre-professional members. Amélie Sirois-Leclerc of the University of Saskatchewan was the winner with “Fighting the right to repair: The perpetuity of a monopoly.” She argues for the right of equipment purchasers to self-repair or use third-party services rather than be required to use dealerships to obtain repairs. The proliferation of computerized systems has created a significant issue. We used to think of agricultural machinery as “big iron,” but today’s products are also “big silicon.” Maintaining the functionality of these increasingly software-driven products is complex, as manufacturers have legitimate concerns about intellectual property and liability issues while customers desire options for timely repair of their large investments. Dilemmas such as this are exactly what we challenged our pre-professionals to consider in the ethics essay competition. What are your thoughts on this issue? Are we forced to choose one side, or is there a solution that can satisfy both camps? And then there are the Visual Challenge photos. Now in the seventh year, the entries just get better and better—statements without words, showing the beauty and strength of ag and bio engineering. I hope these images inspire you to enter the next Visual Challenge. Please send your comments and feedback to email@example.com. I do want to hear from you.
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