“Major transformations” are needed to make food production sustainable

 

Photo credit: FAO

Empowering small-scale farmers and providing them better access to information, markets and technologies is key to ensuring future food security. Photo: FAO

Business-as-usual not an option with future global food security in jeopardy, cautions UN agency

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsId=56221

Warning that diminishing natural resources and a changing climate have put humankind’s future ability to feed itself “in jeopardy,” the United Nations underlined today that while the planet still has the potential to produce enough food, “major transformations” are needed to make production sustainable and to ensure that all of humanity benefits.

In The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlights that while “very real and significant” progress in reducing hunger has been achieved over the past 30 years, these have often come at a heavy cost to nature.

“Almost half of the forests that once covered the Earth are now gone. Groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly. Biodiversity has been deeply eroded,” noted the report.

“[As a result,] planetary boundaries may well be surpassed, if current trends continue,” added FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, underlining the gravity of the situation.

With global population estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050, world-wide demand for agricultural products could be pushed by as much as 50 per cent above current levels, intensifying pressures on already-strained natural resources.

At the same time, the report argues, greater numbers of people will be eating fewer cereals and larger amounts of meat, fruits, vegetables and processed food – a result of an ongoing global dietary transition that will further add to those pressures, driving more deforestation, land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.