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Festival's popular forum puts the focus on climate change and food

September 14th, 2019 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

At Baltimore Sailing Club for the food forum, as part of the Taste of West Cork festival were, from left: Fiona Field, festival manager, Baroness Bryony Worthington and Dr Aifric O'Sullivan, UCD.

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CLIMATE Change was the theme of the annual Food Forum, held as part of the Taste of West Cork Food Festival, in Baltimore last weekend. 

Entitled ‘Facing the Challenges of a Rapidly Changing World – Our Survival’, the event was held at Baltimore Sailing Club and drew a large crowd, for one of the festival’s most popular events.

Owen Brennan, executive chairman of Devenish, the agri-tech firm which supplies animal feeds worldwide, highlighted the crucial part that quality soil plays in the production of quality food. 

Soil quality has diminished significantly worldwide, said Mr Brennan, and efforts must be redoubled to reverse that trend, yielding better returns, better products, better health outcomes and better overall water quality.  ‘We are what we eat,’ he reminded his audience.

 Baroness Bryony Worthington, architect of the UK Climate Change Act and executive director for Europe of the Environmental Defence Fund, declared that the climate crisis is a collective problem and it needs ‘moral leadership for a moral problem’. She said that, with greenhouse gas emissions on a vertical curve, and gases lingering for hundreds of years, this year saw the emissions at tipping point, with disasters in Siberia and Athens last year, and worldwide incidents that have devastated hundreds of acres of fragile environment.   

Intimating that the refusal of some governments to buy into the Paris Agreement has prompted other nations to drive on with their own initiatives to combat the detrimental effects of climate change, Baroness Worthington sees our youth as a ray of hope in forcing change.  ‘We don’t need to leave this to the politicians,’ she said.   

Chaired by David Puttnam, there was a lively debate, and other speakers also included Australian Ambassador Richard Andrews, Dr Aifric O’Sullivan of UCD and Dr Christie Godsmark of UCC. The event was sponsored by philanthropists Sean and Rose O’Driscoll.

 The festival continues this week, culminating in the Skibbereen Sunday Street Market on Sunday. See  www.atasteofwestcork.com.

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