World needs global food system overhaul: report

24th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The world needs fundamental changes to the global food system to feed the expanding population, said a British government report on how to feed the planet until 2050.

Governments must take action to change dietary habits, cut waste, reduce subsidies and embrace genetically-modified food, said the "Global Food and Farming Futures" report out Monday.

The study led by Professor John Beddington, the British government's chief scientific adviser, said that with the global population forecast to reach nine billion in 40 years' time, radical changes were needed to a system already struggling to feed the existing population.

"With the global population set to rise and food prices likely to increase, it is crucial that a wide range of complementary actions from policy makers, farmers and businesses are taken now," Beddington said.

"Urgent change is required throughout the food system to bring sustainability centre stage and end hunger. It is also vital for other areas, such as climate change mitigation, conflict, and economic growth."

The report found that the threat of hunger could increase, saying that current efforts were already stalling and food prices could rise substantially over the next 40 years.

As hunger spreads, the threat of migration and conflict will increase, while wider economic growth would also be affected, it said.

The global food system is already living beyond its means, consuming resources faster than they can be replenished, it said.

Substantial changes to water and energy use and addressing climate change are needed to bring about sustainability, the report found.

It also warned that there was "no quick fix" to the problems.

Beddington said the world's food system was already failing on two counts.

"Firstly, it is unsustainable, with resources being used faster than they can be naturally replenished," he said.

"Secondly, a billion people are going hungry with another billion people suffering from 'hidden hunger', whilst a billion people are over-consuming.

"The project has helped to identify a wide range of possible actions that can meet the challenges facing food and farming, both now and in the future."

© 2011 AFP

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