Kate Lee - New and emerging technologies
I am 28 years old and I worked for the UK farming unions and the National Pig Association in Brussels from September 2006 until September 2012. Whilst this was a very cosmopolitan life I lived and breathed agriculture every day in trying to communicate the needs and aspirations of UK farmers to policy makers.
Key policies I worked included organic food, biotechnology, cloning, food labelling and climate change. I also worked with the EU Commission, Member State Governments and the European Parliament at a crucial time when welfare laws were coming into force on farm animals such as laying hens and pigs.
I had a joyful upbringing in Cheshire, I have a twin sister Jenny and a younger sister Amy who work in photography and fashion. I love languages and speak French, Spanish, Portuguese and I am learning Danish. Otherwise in my spare time I enjoy hiking, running half marathons (I could never do a full one!) and touch rugby. I am also partial to a bit of singing and dancing!
Agriculture news from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, June 17th 2012
I'm sure I shouldn't allow myself to have a favourite 'world farmer' out of all the fabulous people in our delegation but what the heck...
Her name is Mrs. Al Momany, who describes herself simply as a 'village woman'. Yet in my eyes the Jordanian fruit farmer is a pioneer, a business woman, a social activist and hugely courageous for coming to promote her cause at this primarily English speaking event, where there seems to be little or no support for Arabic speaking participants.
The thing I admire most though, is that despite the language barriers, I have seen her give inspirational contributions every day to one of the key debates at the summit - how can the hard working women farmers of the world be empowered, how can they be educated and how can they share their knowledge to contribute to food security.
However my key task this evening involved missing a speech Mrs. Al Momany was giving in her capacity as President of the Specific Union of Women Farmers in Jordan and attend instead the UN's event on 'Food and Nutrition Security'.
It was dramatic!
Marco Marzano de Marinis, Chief Exec of the World Farmers' Organisation, spoke on a panel with academics, Ex-Prime Ministers, scientists and the World Economic Forum.
There were agreements, disagreements, standing ovations, loutish booing at certain members of the panel, and that was just on my part.
We heard that 1/3 of the world's children are malnourished, that 1/7 of the world does not have proper access to food or water, that GMOs are bad....no wait! Maybe GMOs are good? That the EU's proposed free trade agreement will destroy African food security, that the countryside is dying and of course, that "we do not have time for a Rio+40".
My head was spinning with the polemic by the end but congrats to the UN for giving me plenty to think about for my Nuffield paper and for promoting the vital role of farmers in world health and nutrition.
Before I go I want to say a loving 'Happy Fathers' Day' to the best Dad in the world, Mr. Lee! Who I would definitely be visiting in Cheshire right now had it not been for this minor international summit x x x