According to an international group of experts, the negative effects of our food system on the environment can be mitigated, but only if we take several, vital measures simultaneously.
Since the start of the industrial revolution, we humans have been releasing increasingly large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These emissions come on top of the natural greenhouse effect, giving rise to progressive climate change. Global temperatures have risen more than 1 ± 0.2 °C above preindustrial levels. The negative effects of this climate change are apparent on various levels, including biodiversity, agriculture, health and the economy.
Increased pressure on the environment
Our food system also produces a large quantity of greenhouse gas emissions. And the current population growth will only serve to increase this. The world population is projected to increase by 3 billion by 2050, which implies increased pressure on our environment. A group of international experts estimates that the environmental impact of our food system could increase by 50-90% between 2010 and 2050, in the absence of technological change and targeted mitigation measures.
This group of international experts analysed the options that would allow us to minimise the environmental impact, and published the results of its research in the journal Nature.
More plant-based food and less food waste
The experts identified three major options to reduce the environmental impact of our food system:
- Adaptation of our diet, to consume more vegetable protein: eating more fruit, vegetables and legume would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.
- The reduction of losses and food waste.
- The improvement of agricultural production technologies.
The experts stipulated however that none of these measures, taken separately, would have a sufficient impact. Only a combination of these measures would significantly reduce the pressure of our food system on the environment.