COVID-19 pandemic a chance to rethink global food system, says sustainable development expert

Up to 265 million people globally suffer from food insecurity and potential starvation and this is intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic,’ writes Chandran Nair, founder and CEO of the Global Institute for Tomorrow (GIFT), in a recent article for the World Economic Forum.

The World Food Programme has warned of widespread famines “of Biblical proportions” and its latest report is a stark reminder of the disconnects in our global food supply system and the need to examine and overhaul its dire insufficiencies.

‘The adverse global consequences of increasing current food output by 50% in just 30 years must be addressed.’

Our current food crisis, Nair contends, ‘is a product of – and even thrives upon – an incredibly wasteful process of production and consumption’, with agriculture responsible for up to 70% of the world’s freshwater use and 20% of global greenhouse gas production.

‘In the pursuit of feeding an overpopulated world, we would wilfully encourage overeating,’ he argues. ‘We would also … wildly miss our global greenhouse gas budget and plunge humanity into a health crisis as we scramble to grow and produce cheap, unhealthy food.’

‘As consumption expands, forests and savannah will be stripped and repurposed into arable land, destroying natural systems, expediting loss of biodiversity and exacerbating land degradation with intensive monoculture farming techniques … under the guise that growing more food is needed to feed a hungry planet. Human encroachment on nature (predominantly for food production) is a critical factor in how pandemics arise – three out of every four emerging diseases are spread this way.

‘Tragically, much of the food produced from this global abuse is not even consumed,’ Nair writes, citing around 30% in food loss (pre-consumer) globally, and waste at consumption stage a staggering 61% in the Americas; 52% in Europe, yet just 13% in South and South-East Asia, and 5% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

What can be done about this potentially catastrophic situation?

Nair has some suggestions: read the full article here.

Source: The pandemic is just another sign of our broken food system I World Economic Forum