Former U.S. President Barack Obama spoke abroad for the first time since leaving office in January 2017. Hundreds of people attended his keynote speech at the Seeds&Chips Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan, Italy. Obama, dressed in an unbuttoned collar rather than his usual tie, began with remarks about his agricultural policy achievements and why food issues are intriguing to him.
“It is possible for us to make real and steady progress over the next few years,” former President Obama stated. “The path to a sustainable future will require better seeds, better storage, crops that grow with less water, and crops that can grow in extreme climates.”
Obama sat down with one of his advisors and former White House chef, Sam Kass. They discussed topics ranging from innovations in the food sector to the problem of food waste. They also talked about issues like the rise in global sea levels, clean energy, and the future of personalized medicine.
The focus of the 2017 Seeds&Chips Summit is about finding and promoting innovative agricultural solutions for a growing population. Obama stated, “Politicians can help guide change but change is going to happen by what people do every day. Essentially, millions of decisions are being made daily that influence our society.”
Later, he added, “If you want to make progress in food, you have to take into account the farmers themselves. Of course, much of agriculture is dominated by big business, but small and medium-sized farms need to be involved in change, as well. These farmers feel that they are always just a step away from losing their farms. If you put an environmental political agenda over these farmers’ economic prosperity, they will resist changing how they grow crops.”
According to Obama, right now he is writing his third book and enjoying being in his own house again. He has spent much of his time strategizing with former First Lady Michelle Obama about their next phase of work. Obama plans to set up a premiere institution in America that teaches the next generation of activists.