Scientists Call for ‘Global Agricultural Revolution’ and ‘Planetary Health Diet’ to Save Lives—and Earth

Written by on January 18, 2019 in Food, Drink & Nutrition, Health with 0 Comments

In a new report about human health and the environmental, experts call for people across the globe to follow a “flexitarian” or “planetary health” diet. (Photo: The EAT-Lancet Commission)

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams

While scientists continue to call for immediately phasing out fossil fuels across the global to avert climate catastrophe, a team of international experts on Thursday unveiled a proposal to address another major driver of the climate crisis: the world’s unhealthy and unsustainable food system.


“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,” declaredTim Lang, a co-author of the EAT-Lancet Commission and professor at City, University of London. “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 brought together 37 experts in agriculture, environmental sustainability, human health, and political science from 16 countries. Over three years, they developed the “planetary health diet,” which aims to address the global food system’s devastating environmental impact as well as mass malnutrition.

Noting that more than 800 million people worldwide “have insufficient food, while many more consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and disease,” co-lead commissioner Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University said the “world’s diets must change dramatically” to reverse the damage that’s been done.

“To be healthy,” he explained, “diets must have an appropriate calorie intake and consist of a variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.”

“This is the first attempt to set universal scientific targets for the food system that apply to all people and the planet,” according to the final report, Food in the Anthropocene: Healthy Diets From Sustainable Food Systems (pdf).

The “Great Food Transformation” envisioned by the commission acknowledges that the world population is on track to reach an estimated 10 billion by 2050. The researchers considered current food production and consumption trends in terms of not only planet-warming emissions but also cropland and freshwater use, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling, and species extinction.


“Humanity now poses a threat to the stability of the planet,” co-lead commissioner Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Center told the Guardian. “[This requires] nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution.”

The report, published in The Lancet, lays out five key strategies for its proposed overhaul of global food norms:

  1. Seek international and national commitment to shift toward healthy dietsthat feature more plant-based foods—including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains—and less animal products.
  2. Reorient agricultural priorities from producing high quantities of food to producing healthy food that nurtures human health and supports environmental sustainability.
  3. Sustainably intensify food production to increase high-quality output with a series of reforms that include becoming a net carbon sink from 2040 forward to align with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
  4. Strong and coordinated governance of land and oceans, including by implementing a “Half Earth” strategy for biodiversity conservation.
  5. At least halve food losses and waste, in line with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), on both the production side and the consumption side.

Alongside its report, the commission put out a brief (pdf) identifying top takeaways and specific actions that individuals can take to help transform the global food system. Suggestions include buying more sustainably produced food, embracing plants as a source of protein, and slashing both meat consumption and food waste.

The unveiling of the planetary health diet follows a series of recent studies that have shown it is environmentally necessary for humans—particularly in the United States and Europe—to dramatically reduce red meat consumption. The commission estimates that shifting toward such a diet could save at least 11 million adult lives annually.

The commission’s report comes as the New England Journal of Medicine published a “grim analysis” on Thursday which warns that the World Health Organization’s conclusion from just five years ago that rising global temperatures over the next few decades will kill 250,000 people per year is a “conservative estimate.”


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

 

Tags: , , ,

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Top

Send this to a friend