Food systems, beginning with the planting of seeds, going through individual consumption, and concluding in oceans or solid compost, have great impact on environmental systems. Marco Springmann and colleagues, including FAFS professor Rami Zurayk (LDEM), addressed the environmental impacts associated with food systems in their article “Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits” and published in the prominent journal Nature. The piece predicts an increase of 50-90% of food-related impacts (greenhouse gas emissions related to climate change, cropland use related to land-system change, freshwater use of surface and groundwater, and nitrogen and phosphorus applications) between 2010 and 2050 if no pre-emptive action is taken to counter their effects.
Dr. Zurayk, a member of the research team, contributed to providing options for transforming the food system using more sustainable practices focused on water and the depletion of water resources.
Given that the MENA region suffers stress on natural resources, including chronic water shortage, current patterns of food production and consumption may exacerbate these problems, especially when the effects of climate change are increasingly detrimental. This allows us to examine the global picture of the state of resources at a time when food trade has become a norm demanding integral inter-basin transfers. The research also identifies several hotspots, including MENA, suffering with the issue.
The authors suggest several possible solutions to reduce the environmental impacts of food systems, such as healthier dietary practices that include increasing plant-based diets and agricultural yields, adopting better water management practices, and reducing food loss and waste. The research shows that a global effort is required for any real mitigation of the negative consequences already on the horizon.
The press release “Feeding 10 billion people by 2050 within planetary limits may be achievable” about the research led by Marco Springamnn.
The research is also featured in several magazines, including: The Guardian, The Washington Post, BBC, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Independent.