Food production and consumption trends and patterns are among the main causes of pressure on the environment. Fundamental changes in the ways food is produced, processed, transported and consumed are indispensable for achieving sustainable development. I argue that sustainable development is necessary direction in the food field. This blog will introduce the idea of sustainable development in food and sustainable intensification. Then it will analyze why we need sustainable development in food and agriculture. The following is how to achieve sustainability. In the last part I will show some hot debates.
The idea of sustainability in food
After the concept of sustainability is put forward, people gradually complete and improve the relevant concepts. Sustainable production and consumption in food and agriculture is a consumer-driven, complete concept which refers to the integrated implementation of sustainable patterns of food consumption and production, respecting the carrying capacities of natural ecosystems. It needs to considerate all the aspects of a product, from production to consumption, and includes such issues as sustainable lifestyles, sustainable diets, food losses and food waste management and recycling. The most important is that environmentally friendly behaviors and methods, which minimize adverse impacts on the environment and do not jeopardize the needs of present and future generations. (FAOUN,2011)
Sustainable intensification is a process to achieve higher agricultural yields while reducing the negative impact of farming on the environment. It is an idea that has had much prominence over the last decade. It might evolve to help the food system respond to the environmental and food security. ( Charles, 2015)
The importance of sustainability
Sustainable development is necessary direction in the agriculture both in the present and in the future. For many countries, sustainable development of agriculture offered the only way to alleviate human hunger. If the world has extra land with spreading more fertilizers and pesticides, as well as already scarce groundwater supplies, it is easy to address hunger all over the world. But what is clear the poor land will not miss human demand in the future. Thus destructive agriculture is a poor option. What we need to think about is how to expand agricultural output massively without increasing by much the amount of land used. This is a challenge today.
Particularly, global peak population may be nearer 10 billion people rather than 9 billion in the future (United Nations 2011, 2013). As the world population continues to grow, much more effort and innovation will be urgently needed in order to sustainably increase agricultural production, improve the global supply chain, decrease food losses and waste, and ensure that all who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition have access to nutritious food. Sustainable intensification is an important and valuable concept to help achieve the hugely challenging task of providing affordable food for ten billion people without destroying the natural environment and our capacity to produce food in the future.
The Sustainable Food System (SFS) is a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised. We need to highlight all the process of food system including the production, consumption and the food waste management.
One the one hand, form the approach of Britain’s Royal Society, sustainable intensification of global agriculture requires a wholesale realignment of priorities in agricultural research. There is an urgent need for new crop varieties that offer higher yields but use less water, fertilizers or other inputs. For example, Genetically Modified (GM) crops are an important part of the sustainable agriculture, alongside traditional breeding techniques. GM technology could help us get more corps and higher quality corps than traditional way. One the other hand, equally crucial is lower-tech research into basics such as crop rotation, mixed farming of animals and plants on smallholder farms, soil management and curbing waste. In terms of deal with wasted food, we may separate collection of bio-waste which means Biodegradable waste. Bio-waste is a way that fulfils a high level of environmental protection and achieves sustainable develop in food.
The Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFSP), established by FAO is catalyzing, through the Agrifood Task Force, partnerships among United Nations agencies, other international agencies, governments, industry and civil society whose activities can promote the necessary transition of food systems to sustainability. The overall objective of the SFSP is to add value by bringing together various initiatives and work streams, in FAO and with partners to build capacity for the uptake of more sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices across food systems and develop new multi-stakeholder engagement to build synergies and cooperation towards mutual objectives. The Programme brings together various initiatives of FAO in order to catalyze actions.
On debate is that agriculture intensification mainly relies on high levels of inputs including technical and economic supports. In order to end hunger and guarantee resources after years, some people doubt whether agriculture is the necessary. However, I think the importance should be noticed is how to balance the highly inputs and the outcomes. In addition, intensification, this term is often associated in people’s minds with overuse of fertilizers, water and pesticides, many of which come from, or are non-renewable resources.
Simultaneously, we doubt whether new technology could real help the counties where people suffer from hunger problem. For instance, GM technology seems not to be a solution for world hunger, despite many assertions to the contrary by their proponents. In practice, the first generation of GM crops has been largely irrelevant to poor countries as it plays to concerns about the privatization and monopolization of agriculture, which focus on profits instead of helping people. What’s more, in terms of GM food, one hot debate in China is whether it would bring harm to health. Overstating the benefits of GM foods can increase public distrust. However, this debate is hard to prove because no one can give a clear and strong conclusion.