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The Global food system is broken

The food system fails to properly nourish billions of people. More than 820 million people went hungry last year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation






( November 29, 2018, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) “The global food system is broken,” said Tim Benton, professor of population ecology, at the University of Leeds, who is a member of one of the expert editorial groups which produced the report. He said the cost of the damage to human health and the environment was much greater than the profits made by the farming industry. “Whether you look at it from a human health, environmental or climate perspective, our food system is currently unsustainable and given the challenges that will come from a rising global population that is a really serious thing to say,”

The global food system is broken, leaving billions of people either underfed or overweight and driving the planet towards climate catastrophe, according to 130 national academies of science and medicine across the world. Providing a healthy, affordable, and environmentally friendly diet for all people will require a radical transformation of the system, says the report by the Inter Academy Partnership (IAP). This will depend on better farming methods, wealthy nations consuming less meat and countries valuing food which is nutritious rather than cheap.

The global food system is responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all emissions from transport, heating, lighting and air conditioning combined. Rearing cattle and other livestock causes the same carbon emissions as all the world’s vehicles, trains, ships and planes combined. The global warming this is causing is now damaging food production through extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. At the present rate, cattle and other livestock will be responsible for half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and that to prevent this will require “substantial reductions, far beyond what are planned or realistic, from other sectors”.

“We have spent 30 to 40 years investing quite heavily on fuel efficiency in the transport sector,” said Benton. “We need do something similarly radical in the farming sector and the scope for doing that by changing the way we raise the animals is much smaller than the scope we have by changing our diets.”

The food system also fails to properly nourish billions of people. More than 820 million people went hungry last year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. A third of all people did not get enough vitamins. At the same time, 600 million people were classed as obese and 2 billion overweight, with serious consequences for their health.

On top of this, more than 1bn tonnes of food is wasted every year, a third of the total produced.

Joachim von Braun, a professor who co-chairs the IAP project. “Our food systems are failing us. Agriculture and consumer choices are major factors driving disastrous climate change.”

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