The 2009 "Great Debate" held during Alltech’s 25th International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium in Lexington, Ky., saw three global agricultural leaders present differing views on sustainability. Offering insightful opinions, the panelists commented on a variety of issues with topics ranging from environmental concerns to raw material traceability.

Lutz Goedde, deputy director of agriculture development for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Philip Wilkinson, Order of the British Empire, managing director, 2 Sisters Group (the United Kingdom’s largest chicken producer) and Michael Boehlje, ag economics professor, Purdue University, each took the stage to discuss their ideas in front of over 1,000 delegates representing top global agribusinesses.

“We will only have a sustainable system if farmers are protecting their assets,” Goedde said.

“Sustainability is more than just sustaining your own business. It is the next generation and the next generation. The United States’ response (to the pre-Symposium survey) is disappointing. We need to broaden our horizons,” Boehlje said. “Children do not believe that intensive agriculture and sustainability are compatible.  We need to shape the definition or the textbooks will."

“The main limitation on agricultural sustainability in the future is people and the understanding of what sustainability is. Calorie demand doubled in the past 30 years and will continue to grow. Population will increase, the climate is changing and water is an issue for all,” Wilkinson said. “We need to take a leaf out of Dr. (Pearse)  Lyons’ talk and be proud of what we do.  We need to be passionate about what we do. Then, and only then can we win the hearts and minds of our consumers.” 

Alltech’s "Great Debate" was held during the company’s 25th International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium which May 17-20.

“Sustainability for Alltech is about long-term business," Alltech President and Founder Pearse Lyons said. "That means finding ways to produce meat, milk and eggs in a manner which is not only economically viable, but also recognizes the relationship that production has with the environment, consumer needs and with the importance of traceability. It is clear that sustainability must be viewed through the prism of the economic crisis. Our industry has no other choice than to become more cost efficient.”

Read more about the Alltech symposium.