Ebola Focus at World Food Prize Symposium

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines is welcoming visitors from dozens of countries this week. The leaders in food and agriculture are here for the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium. Some of the speakers and guests are from parts of western Africa at the center of the Ebola outbreak.

“We are going to have one of the very first, focused discussions anywhere in the world about what is the impact of this on food production and agriculture both in the short-term in those countries and the long-term as a threat to many countries,” said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize.

Quinn says all but one of the travelers from Sierra Leone and Liberia have been out of their countries for a significant period of time.

“They would have been through that 21 day waiting period. There is one person who is coming within that, but they will be screened at the airport. This is person who is a very senior position in the government so they are most well protected and isolated and insulated people in the country,” explained Quinn.

The Des Moines airport says it is taking precautions against the spread of any infectious disease. Workers are sanitizing restrooms every hour. They are also sanitizing common areas on a regular basis. It’s the same safeguards the airport uses for flu season, but because of the Ebola scare, officials started it about six weeks early.

“Any passenger arriving in Des Moines would have already gone through one of those larger international airports and would have already been screened,” said Des Moines Airport Executive Director Kevin Foley.

The theme of these year’s World Food Prize symposium: Greatest Challenge in Human History: Can we sustainably feed 9 billion people by 2050?

The event focuses on feeding people at home and abroad and begins tomorrow with the Iowa Hunger Summit.

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