Hector Laurence started out his career in law and taxes. He continued his career in agribusiness, specifically in the seed business. He started out in Argentina and continued to work and travel all over the globe. “Being in touch with many different cultures is an enrichment that helped me to work on the issues regarding the type of crisis we are in now.”

Current condition of the food system
“It’s a kind of earthquake that is affecting the activities in many countries”, says Laurence. Although he thinks the food system is still performing rather well, he emphasizes that changes will need to be made. “All the trading issues, permits, and legal regulations need to be reviewed in order for the upcoming food system to respect all the health procedures. You can imagine that the world is not ready to receive infected food from abroad. So we need to be extremely careful.”

On top of that Laurence proposes a long term plan. How are imports and exports going to assure food security within the limits of food safety food security? Global food supply needs to be flexible enough to reach especially countries and people that are in absolute need of food.

Currently there are all kinds of protectionist waves in the world. Shortages due to corona seem to enhance them. What is Laurence's view from a South-American perspective?

Laurence shows two examples showing that these protectionist waves were already present. His examples demonstrate the impact of political decisions on global food supply.

“The European Union", Laurence says, "has been and is limiting the export of raw products from the Mercosur countries, using the international treaties between the European Union and Mercosur. The agreement is used by the EU for many years to protect their farmers and food.” Another example he cites is food politics in Argentina. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former president of Argentina, limited Argentina's exports, especially wheat and meat. That was an unexpected move for a traditional exporter like Argentina. Laurence explains: "The government decided to stop exports, at least most of it, for one simple reason. Without exports the biggest demand will disappear and prices will go down. In that way the government was able to offer cheaper food for the Argentinian people. No exports means internal abundance means cheaper food.” But it didn't necessarily serve the Argentinian farmer who found himself suddenly in a situation of overproduction.

Getting a horizontal conversation going
According to Laurence, politicians all over the world have to worry about one big thing: “They will have to do whatever is needed to have the basic foods for their population. The economic crisis being much bigger than the illness – they feel that they have to do whatever is necessary to assure big stocks of food for all.” Laurence expects governments will stop exporting, if they feel they need to.

“That’s why I think that once we start kicking away this illness, we will need to discuss on different levels how to manage global food supply.” Hector Laurence believes that precisely IFAMA has a significant role in this. “All members and other related organizations should start presenting, at least for food and the agribusiness chain, what their key proposals are to do so." Laurence considers IFAMA's horizontal interaction and the way it connects the food economy, health, ecology, food security and trade and a wide variety of types of organizations of major importance for our times: "the IFAMA platform is a great tool to establish the interconnections the world badly needs now.”