Foresight: The Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and choices for global sustainability
Foresight - the Government Office for Science, London. 2011
Comment provided by Tara Garnett, from the Food Climate Research Network, UK
There is a huge amount in here to digest – I've tried here to give a summary of the summary but the whole thing needs reading and re-reading as there is so much. For me the following points emerge most strongly:
- The report is very clear about the need to link food security and environmental issues together.
- As routes to achieving food security, it emphasises the importance of improving access and distribution, and of improving livelihoods within the food chain, as much as increasing production and productivity. It sees food production as a route to achieving an end (eg. food security, human health, livelihoods) rather than a goal in itself.
- It highlights the vital importance of protecting biodiversity since ecosystem reslience underpins future food security and ultimately human viability
- It emphasises that new technologies, including biotechnologies are needed and that nothing should be dismissed a priori, but also much can be done with existing technologies too
- It is clear that changing patterns of consumption (ie reducing meat consumption) are also essential, as is reducing waste and that a spectrum of policy levers need to be considered, including fiscal, regulatory, choice editing and public awareness raising strategies
- It emphasises the need to prevent collapse of global fisheries
- It says that much more funding is needed for agricultural development and for revitalising agricultural extension services
- It says that much can be done to reduce emissions from agriculture, and there can be win-wins with food security (as well as some trade offs) but there may be limits to how far agricultural sector really can decarbonise – in which case other sectors may need to do more
- It mentions animal welfare and the need to consider the broader ethical values people place upon aspects of the food system
- There is no one single solution – lots of approaches are needed.
Report available from the Foursight website.