Food systems at risk: New trends and challenges
This report (PDF) by the European Commission, FAO and CIRAD examined the most up-to-date scientific assessment of the danger humanity faces if present trends continue, with priority being given to food systems in low and middle income countries (LMIC). There is no doubt that existing food systems are associated with a pandemic of obesity and non-communicable diseases. However, it is often difficult to be precise about the magnitude of past (and even more so future) changes. The three main risks currently are: 1) The future of food production is threatened by both overexploitation or depletion of resources, environmental degradation, climate change and poverty; 2) The challenge of food security is not only to produce enough food but to make it accessible to all; 3) Nutritional deficiencies are now coupled with excessive malnutrition and new safety risks. So beyond food production, food systems must be assessed on their role in creating jobs, stabilising livelihoods, reducing inequality between stakeholder and territories, and preserving and improving environmental integrity. Assigning this plurality of purposes to food systems leads to a complete rethinking of them, and the way their performance and efficiency are measured must be completely revised. A systemic approach of risks is needed to explore the effects of interactions between risks, particularly their synergistic effects. Further work is also needed on the resilience factors in food systems, in all their components and functionalities. The potential severity of the combinations of risks to which LMIC food systems are exposed requires a change in their transformation pattern. Since food systems face locally specific combinations of risks, they als have to meet locally specific objectives of food security, nutrition, job creation, inequality reduction and environmental integrity. This calls for cooperation of key political, economic and social actors and the development of operational and forward-looking methods for diagnosing food systems.