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239. Impacts of Food System on Biodiversity Loss

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In February 2021, the British think tank Chatham House published the report Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss

Biodiversity loss is accelerating around the world, and the global rate of species extinction is well above the average for the last 10 million years. The global food system, which has been shaped by the ‘cheaper food’ paradigm over the past 50 years, is the primary driver of this trend. Intensive agricultural production reduces the production capacity of the land itself due to degradation of the soil and ecosystem. The production of resource-intensive foods to meet calorie demand cheaply relies excessively on fertilizers, pesticides, energy, land and water, and on unsustainable practices such as monocropping and heavy tilling. This has destroyed the habitat of mammals, insects and microbial organisms and locked out many plant species. The global food system is also one of the major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions which is causing climate change. This in turn drives species to disperse to new locations due to climate change. Contact and competition between species creates opportunities that lead to the emergence of infectious diseases.

The report introduced three principal levers to transform the global food system. First, given the excessive burden of animal food production on biodiversity, land use and the environment, global dietary patterns should converge around diets based more on plants. Second, more land should be protected and set aside for nature. And third, farming methods that are compatible with nature and biodiversity by reducing the input of chemical fertilizers and transforming monoculture into diverse crop system practices should be adopted.

The United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) is also scheduled for 2021 and will provide a unique opportunity to transform the food system to improve nutrition security, public health and environmental sustainability. In addition, governments around the world are expected to secure unprecedented investments to support economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

JIRCAS also provides information on trends in agriculture, forestry and fisheries research and development of international research organizations and developed countries in order to widely disseminate global efforts to researchers, government agencies, private companies etc. In addition to the UNFSS, the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit will be organized in December 2021 to determine the direction and strategy for achieving global food security. JIRCAS will continue to provide information on the latest trends and challenges on the future of food and agriculture.

Benton T et al. Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss. Three levers for food system transformation in support of nature RESEARCH PAPER 3 FEBRUARY 2021 ISBN: 978 1 78413 433 4 https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/02/food-system-impacts-biodiversity-l… 

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Research Strategy Office)