Food security is “probably the most urgent and dramatic” problem facing mankind, a Brussels conference has been told.
The event, organised by the European commission’s Joint Research Council (JRC), heard that the number of countries under threat of famine has “increased significantly.”Dominique Ristori, director general of the JRC, said that in order to tackle the crisis, food production must assume a much higher priority in political agendas.
He said that the case for “urgent action” in the global food system “is now compelling.”The world’s natural resources were being consumed at an “unsustainable rate” and were also failing the poorest, he said.His comments were endorsed by Sir John Beddington, chief scientific advisor to the UK government.
He told the conference on Wednesday that one solution would be minimising waste across “all areas” of the food chain.
An amount of food equivalent to about a quarter of today’s annual production could be saved by 2050, he argued, if the current estimate of global food waste was halved.
A position paper submitted to the conference by the JRC carried a stark warning for policymakers on the consequences of “inaction.”It says there should be more focus on sustainability, saying, “Global productivity in aquaculture could, with limited changes to inputs, be raised by around 40 per cent.”
Improving ‘governance’ of the global food system is another possible solution, it argues.”It is important to reduce subsidies and trade barriers that disadvantage poor countries.”The conference was told that the JRC is working to develop more efficient early warning tools.
It heard that satellite observation is a “key instrument” that will allow double the number of countries to be monitored for detecting the first signs of adverse agricultural conditions.”Satellite-based forecasting systems will, therefore, take on increased importance in the next years, allowing organisations to monitor a larger number of countries in future than is currently possible,” said the JRC document.