Students from Ireland, north and south, converge in Belfast for key agri-food debate
Queen’s University Belfast will engage with some of the most hotly contested topics of our time when students from all over Ireland converge on its campus for the annual Great Agri-Food Debate.
This is only the second time that Queen’s has participated in the competition and the first time the debate has been hosted in Northern Ireland, reflecting the organisers’ belief in the importance of an all-island approach to agriculture, food production and food security, post-Brexit.
The debate, now in its fifth year, is a joint initiative between Dawn Meats, a leading Irish meat processer which exports to over 50 countries and employs over 7,000 staff worldwide, and the fast-food multinational, McDonald’s (Ireland).
Student teams will debate such talking points as veganism, gender equality in industry, environmental sustainability, waste prevention and the future of farming over two afternoons on February 26-27 at Riddel Hall, Belfast.
The full motions to be debated in the heats to find the finalists over the two afternoons are:
- Today’s vegan climate solutions will be the deserts of tomorrow
- The gender inequality issue in the agri-food industry has been solved
- Zero waste to landfill is no big deal – waste prevention is the only conversation we should be having
- Precision agriculture is the only viable future to feed 10bn people
- The impact of African Swine Fever is a wakeup call for everybody on the risks associated with intensive production of protein and a further reason to encourage sustainable grass-based production sys
The Queen’s team comprises undergraduate students from food science; agriculture; mechanical and aerospace engineering; and law. They will come up against debating aficionados from University College Dublin, Cork Institute of Technology, Waterford Institute of Technology – last year’s winners – plus Dundalk Institute of Technology and CAFRE.
The judging panel will include Nina Prichard from McDonald’s; HE Mrs Deike Potzel, German Ambassador to Ireland; Pamela Byrne, CEO of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland; Niall Browne, CEO of Dawn Meats and Dunbia; Tara McCarthy, CEO Bord of Bia and representatives from the wider agri-food industry, academia and the financial-services sector.
Mr Browne, CEO of Dawn Meats said he was delighted the debate would be hosted for the first time in Belfast. He said: “Queen’s University’s Institute for Global Food Security is world-renowned and provides the perfect backdrop for some of the brightest young minds to debate issues of central importance to our industry, north and south.
“This event has gone from strength to strength in the last five years and I wish all the participants well in what will be a lively and competitive series of debates, which give us all food for thought.”
There will be six debates in all, culminating in the grand finale, in which students will thrash out the motion ‘Global free trade, not subsidies, will deliver a sustainable future for European Agriculture’.