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Former US President Barack Obama has called on the science, business and technology communities to come together and get creative to help build a better food future for all.
Speaking at the Seeds and Chips food innovation summit in Milan, Obama told an attentive audience that healthy, more sustainable food practices are essential to help halt climate change, an issue he says "will define the contours of the century."
"When I was in office climate change was my top priority. Our food system is a significant contributor to climate change," said the 44th President of the United States in his opening remarks. "The path to a sustainable food future will require creativity and investment ... but this planet is not condemned. These are problems caused by man that can be solved by man. None of this is impossible."
Obama was joined by former White House chef and national policy advisor Sam Kass, who was heavily involved in Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign to improve child nutrition in the US, as well as the planting of the White House's famed vegetable garden, and is a committed food advocate.
In a relaxed conversation, Obama told his longtime friend that the US was moving in the right direction, but that "nobody could sit on the sidelines ... this is a huge opportunity for entreprenuers, scientists and business leaders. If we seize the future, there's nothing we can't do."
The pair, both huge steak lovers, said it was vitally important to reduce meat consumption, especially beef, for the environment's sake. They also discussed the need to tackle food waste – up to 40% is wasted in the US every year. Obama conceded however that "people are resistant to the idea of government telling us what to eat and how to grow."