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Stuff that matters

Fixing breakfast

Obama says we’ll have to speed up innovation to avoid eating our way to climate catastrophe.

“There is such a thing as being too late,” he told an audience at a food summit in Milan, Italy. “When it comes to climate change, the hour is almost upon us.”

The global problems of climate change, poverty, and obesity create an imperative for agricultural innovation, Obama said. This was no small-is-beautiful, back-to-the-land, beauty-of-a-single-carrot speech. Instead, Obama argued for sweeping technological progress.

“The path to the sustainable food future will require unleashing the creative power of our best scientists, and engineers, and entrepreneurs,” he said.

In an onstage conversation with his former food czar, Sam Kass, Obama said people in richer countries should also waste less food and eat less meat. But we can’t rely on getting people to change their habits, Obama said. “No matter what, we are going to see an increase in meat consumption, just by virtue of more Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, and others moving into middle-income territory,” he said.

The goal, then, is to produce food, including meat, more efficiently.

To put it less Obama-like: Unleash the scientists! Free the entrepreneurs!