The HFFA 6th Annual Meeting titled "Innovations in the Food Chain" took place in Berlin from 15 to 16 January 2014 and united more than 30 experts and scientists from agro-industry, society, research and international organizations from Europe and North America. Their discussions focussed on questions of risk assessment, perception, communication and acceptance.
The discussion started with a keynote speech of Patrick Moore, an ecologist and environmentalist. He was a founding member of Greenpeace but left the organization after 15 years. Today he is chairman of Greenspirit Strategies. His speech was a confession of a Greenpeace dropout and presented the Golden Rice Project. The discussion was moderated by Melinda Crane, journalist and correspondent of Deutsche Welle TV. Find the Golden Rice presentation here.
Rainer von Mielecki moderated a talk with Geoffrey Lean, Britain's longest serving environmental journalist, who writes a weekly column in the Telegraph. He neither works for the industry nor for NGOs, but talks to them. The title of his contribution to the conference was "Give me the answers - questions I would ask the representatives from the food chain (farmers, agro-industry, food companies, and consumers)" and was a journalist's curiosity. It revealed his more than 40 years of experience in green issues and facts about agricultural journalism.
Michael Miersch is the leading science editor at the Focus Magazin. He presented the film "Und ewig sterben die Wälder", which he had prdouced with Tobias Streck for BR and arte. His presentation "The fear of food" describes from a journalist's point of view how food scandals are produced. He started with the idea Germans have of agriculture and concluded how the "fear industry" gets fed.
Dr. Klaus von Grebmer from the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington D.C. analyzed the perception Europeans have towards agriculture, farmers, the needs of the world population, quality and origin of products, and product brands. His presentation also revealed their sources of information and the role of agriculture in the media. Find his presentation here.
Dr. Suzan Fiack, Head of Unit "Press and Public Relations" at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment gave a public institution's view on risk assessment, perception and the challenge in risk communication mentioning three examples: EHEC, dioxin and Glyphosat. Find the presentation here.
Hugh Kellett, an author and communication consultant with over 30 years experience in advertising agencies and the owner of Cambridge Comms, gave a PR expert's view on successful communication. Under the title "I have a dream: successful communication strategies" he described a managed agenda for modern farming. Find the presentation here.
"Communication via social media: creativity, courage and agriculture - an oxymoron?" was the title of the presentation of Tobias Haase, a graduate of Filmakademie Ludwigsburg. He presented a commercial he had directed with other students on the Collision Prevent Assist System of Mercedes in a new and controversial light and caused a lively discussion on the impact of the movie and the role of viral communication. Find the presentation including the movie here.
Prof. Dr. Klaus Ammann, Prof. emeritus of Bern University, spoke on people's fear of agricultural biotechnology and its reasons. He concluded that planning problems in green biotechnology have evolved into wicked problems, the solving of which needs new, second generation systems approaches in communication and decision-making.