Soil Association annual conference 2012

Facing the future: Innovation in food and farming
02 March, London

Opening address - Helen Browning, Chief Executive of the Soil Association

Facing the Future: What role can innovation play?  - Economist Ann Pettifor

Facing the Future: What role can innovation play? - Economist Ann Pettifor, author of The Real World Economic Outlook and a Fellow of the new economics foundation (nef), looks at the role of innovation in a resource-constrained future, and what business models and market structures might be needed for a lower-growth, sustainable economy

Professor Hans Herren, President of the Millennium Institute

Phil Bloomer, Director of Policy and Campaigns for OXFAM

Joanna Blythman discusses her new book, What to Eat, with Soil Association Deputy Director, Roger Mortlock

Closing remarks - Helen Browning, Chief Executive of the Soil Association

Conference image gallery

The Soil Association’s Conference 2012 celebrated innovation in food and farming today. We explored this through the two major themes of our strategy: Facing the Future, which explores the exciting scientific and technical progress being made in organic and low-input farming systems; and Good Food for All, which contributes to the important debate about food, public health and social justice.

The future of our food is in flux. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture (UNFAO) special Rapporteur, Olivier de Schutter, ‘keeping blindly on the track of industrial agriculture is clearly unsustainable.’ If this is the case, then we need to galvanize the finest thinkers, technologists, scientists, farmers, entrepreneurs and teachers to develop new and sustainable ways of feeding a growing world population now and in the future.

In addition, the growing challenge of diet-related ill-health, in the UK and internationally, means that we need to explore the relationship between food production and its consumption. With a world that has approximately 1 billion people malnourished and 1 billion obese, there is a powerful case for bringing public health and nutritional expertise to the farming and food production table, to innovate joined-up solutions for our food future.

For general conference queries, please contact Laura Andrews, Events Co-ordinator, on 0117 987 4586 or

Organic lunch

We wish to thank the organic producers who provided lunch for our delegates on the day. Find out more about them...


The Soil Association 2012 conference is kindly supported by:

Lead sponsor

Yeo Valley Organic

Feature sponsors

Food for Life Partnership Ocado Southern Solar

Exhibitor sponsors

Carbon GoldCommunity FoodsEcotricityPopulation MattersTriodos Bank

Supporter sponsors

Kantar WorldpanelNatracareOmsco

Conference blog

5 days later...

Lynda Brown: Spent the last few days digesting the conference and catching up on what I missed via the website. I usually come away fired up; I didn't this time - I'm still trying to work out why. The highlight for me was Prof. Hans Herren, President of the Milennium Institute. No spin, just plain speaking delivered with conviction of what the major problems are, how and where organic farming is contributing positively to the solution, and what needs to happen next. It helps that he has a world view (increasingly I find the Brit view is too skewered) and his phrase "no soil,no anything" hit the spot precisely...

07 March 2012 | 4 Comments | Recommended by 7

Collaborative working?

Rob Haward: Phil Bloomer from Oxfam has urged the organic movement to be more open to build alliances and share views with proponents of other types of farming systems. This must be regarded as sound advice in the face of ever increasing threats on global resources. But the organic movement may face its own problems with this approach – it is a difficult balance to be conciliatory and productive on the one hand, while being critical of poor practice on the other.

05 March 2012 | 9 Comments | Recommended by 25

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