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Transform food system to save planet

Sarah Campbell24/01/2019 - 13:53

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Overhaul of global food system needed
Overhaul of global food system needed

Human diets are threatening Earth’s environmental sustainability and the global food system needs urgent transformation, according to a commission that has created the first scientific targets for a healthy diet.

The EAT-Lancet Commission, a three-year project that brings together 37 experts in health, food, environmental sustainability, economics and politics, said that current diets are pushing the Earth beyond its planetary boundaries.

'The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,' said Professor Tim Lang of City, University of London, one of the commission authors. 'We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before in ways appropriate to each country’s circumstances.'

The commission used available research to create dietary targets. They recommend that global consumption of red meat and sugar should decrease by more than half by 2050. The amount of nuts, fruits and vegetables needs to double. To do this, the commission has proposed strategies to adjust what people eat and how it is produced. These include policies to encourage people to choose healthy diets, refocusing the agricultural industry, effective governance of land and ocean use, and halving food waste. 

Lang said: 'Humanity has never aimed to change the food system this radically at such speed or scale. People might warn of unintended consequences or argue that the case for action is premature, however, the evidence is sufficient and strong enough to warrant action, and any delay will increase the likelihood of not achieving crucial health and climate goals.'

The researchers believe that adopting the new diet globally could prevent around 11 million premature deaths a year, reducing adult deaths by up to 24 per cent.


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