Worldwide, over 80 plant species are known to cause poisoning from nitrate accumulation. But droughts are exacerbating this for many staple crops. Even after a drought, the growth in water-stressed crops can result in the build-up of other toxins. Global warming is also helping to spread mycotoxins, with 25 per cent of cereals worldwide estimated to be contaminated and 4.5 billion people exposed to uncontrolled levels. We will need an aggressive strategy to ensure the safety of agricultural yields and food in the future especially in drought- prone and even temperate zones.
Professor Jacqueline McGlade is the Frank Jackson Foundation Professor of the Environment at Gresham College. She is also a Professor of Resilience and Sustainable Development at University College London and Professor at the Maasai Mara University in Kenya.
On leave from her role at UCL, Professor McGlade was Director of the Science Division and Chief Scientist and Statistician at United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Kenya. There she led many key global assessment activities including the Global Environment Outlook, UN Emissions Gap Report and Frontiers. She also led the creation of Environment Live, an intelligence system for environmental monitoring. Before moving to Kenya, she served as Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, where she introduced citizen science, systems for sharing environmental information for national reporting and delivered key assessments and analyses for all major European environmental policies.
For four decades Professor McGlade has worked at the interface of sustainable development, science, society and policy. Her research on biodiversity, climate change, ecosystems, oceans and social dynamics are known the world over. From developing innovative software for virtual gaming and decision-making in areas such as flood management to pioneering open access to data and information she has changed the way we look at and understand the environment.
Professor McGlade has given over 800 public lectures around the world showing her audiences how we can live sustainably on Earth while adapting to the changing nature of the environment. She has produced award-winning films, television series and radio programmes. In 2017 she gave a TEDx talk on Building Resilience to Climate Change.
With a background in marine biology and environmental informatics Professor McGlade has done fieldwork in Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, North America, Europe, the Caucasus, and the Arctic. She is passionate about local communities and has trained and supported indigenous people to map their lands and sacred sites. She has been instrumental in helping indigenous people participate in local, national and international fora. She recently became a senior member of the Maasai tribe in Kenya, where she is helping to design and implement clean technologies and a green growth local economy in the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Appointed the Frank Jackson Foundation Professor of the Environment in 2018 this is Professor McGlade’s first lecture series at Gresham College. She will explore “Frontiers – Emerging Environmental Issues with Global Implications”. The lectures will present the latest knowledge about emerging issues that affect us all. They will cover antimicrobial resistance, nanotechnology, cognitive development and childhood malnutrition, food security and climate adaptations in crops, the intertwined impacts of inequality and pollution on human health, and the exploration of earth from space.