Scientists have detailed what they hope is a ‘wake-up call’ to world leaders on the possibility of a global food crisis in the face of climate change.
A new report penned by 130 national academies warns that the food supply is becoming increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather by driving the conditions that will make such events even worse in the future.
At the same time, humanity continues to fall short of nutrition targets around the world, with the number of undernourished people steadily on the rise.
A new report penned by 130 national academies warns that the food supply is becoming increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather by driving the conditions that will make such events even worse in the future. File photo
The new report comes just days ahead of COP24 – the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Between agriculture, forestry, and land-use change, the researchers say the global food industry accounts for 20 to 25 percent of emissions each year.
And, that’s not including food transport and other energy-intensive processes.
‘Our food systems are failing us,’ says Professor Joachim von Braun, co-chair of the IAP project on Food and Nutrition Security and Agriculture.
‘It’s not only the environment that is at stake, but health, nutrition, trade, jobs, and the economy. Agriculture and consumer choices are major factors driving disastrous climate change.
‘We need a robust and ambitious policy response to address the climate impacts of agriculture and consumer choices – and scientists have a major role to play.
‘Our new report is a wake-up call to leaders.’
The researchers are urging world leaders to shift toward climate-smart systems.
Scientists have detailed what they hope is a ‘wake-up call’ to world leaders on the possibility of a global food crisis in the face of climate change. Above, potatoes grown in drought-affected Germany are shown
And, they’re calling on the public to make changes, too.
The team says it’s critical that we improve diets for public health overall, and for the environment, as demand for high-calorie food sources continues to rise.
Reducing meat consumption would benefit both public health and the climate.
HOW MUCH FOOD DOES THE WORLD WASTE EVERY YEAR?
Billions of tons of food amounting to roughly $1 trillion goes to waste each year without ever reaching the consumer’s plate, a shocking new study has found.
According to the report from the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, the total annual waste accounts for one third of all food produced for human consumption.
‘Ugly’ food is often thrown away before ever getting to the consumer’s plate
At the same time, experts say billions of people worldwide continue to have poor or inadequate diets.
Food is often thrown away by retailers for aesthetic reasons, the report points out.
And, perishable items frequently spoil during transportation, storage, and refrigeration.
Both retailers and consumers are guilty of buying more than they need, particularly in high income areas.
The study found that more than half of all fruits and vegetables produced every year are wasted, while 25 percent of meat (or 75 million cows) never makes it to the table.
The wasted items also include high-nutrient foods such as seeds, nuts, dairy products, and seafood.
Experts say reducing food waste is a critical step in ensuring people have access to the nutrients they need.
With a more innovative approach to food, such as meat-mushroom mixes, lab-grown meat, algae, and appealing insect-based foods, the researchers say we could slash emissions and fight obesity simultaneously.
But, in any case, the researchers say it’s time for world leaders to take action.
‘This is no time for business as usual,’ said Professor Volker ter Meulen M.D., co-chair of the IAP project.
‘High-calorie diets have become cheaper, and this has serious implications for public health, obesity, and malnutrition.
‘Science is critical to tackling the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, hunger and health.’