By: Michelle Semler
As a graduate student within the Meat Science Department at UNL I have had the opportunity to travel to multiple conferences within the past year such as the Midwest Animal Science Meeting, the Reciprocal Meats Conference, and most recently I traveled to the International Conference on Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST). For ten days in Montreal, Canada I was engulfed in red meat animal production and meat science that opened my eyes to a world perspective of agriculture.
Being originally from eastern Iowa and jumping the Missouri River only last August to move to Lincoln, my scope of agriculture has been very regional. I haven’t really taken the time to look at red meat animal production outside of the Midwest and Great Plains states. However, this conference allowed me to do just that.
The first three days I spent in Montreal I attended a graduate student course where I was able to engage with students from such countries as Brazil, Sri Lanka, Spain, Canada, and many other nations. Our mornings started with three hours of lecture taught by professors from International Universities such as the University of Ghent in Belgium, University of Basque Countries, Spain, as well as having UNL’s very own Dr. Calkins as a presenter. After a wonderful lunch we were then broken up into groups to complete a case study.
The case study activity was designed for us to work within a small group of students with a wide range of background within meat science. While working within these groups I first started to appreciate the scope and scale of the United States red meat animal production system compared to other countries. Often as farmers and or ranchers we get caught up in our day to day life within our small communities and we never take the time to look outside our own front door. As I continued to interact with these students I was able to look miles and miles beyond my own front door. I enjoyed learning about each one of them and it was exciting to see their interest and dedication to meat science in such areas as animal handling, microbiology, and fat biochemistry.
As the conference continued there was even more lectures to listen to and take part in. One I found most intriguing dealt with the issue of the population doubling by the year 2050 and how we need to meet the growing demand for food. For years as a student I have been preached upon about this issue and how as young animal scientist it will be our biggest challenge within the next few years. We as agriculturalists will need to double food production using the same amount of land currently in use. That’s kinda scary right? This means that people from other nations will need to depend on each other to meet this demand. I realized that I am lucky to come from the United States a nation with technology and financial backing to be able to help accomplish such goals.
I thought that this topic was a great way to sum up my ICoMST experience and bring together everything I learned throughout the course of ten days. Even though I attended many other lectures I felt this one to be the most important as it was an issue that didn’t just concern China, or Korea, or Canada. It concerns all of us and will take a world wide effort in the near future to feed the growing world population.