New report: European science academies call for urgent action on food and nutrition security

December 05, 2017

As part of an unprecedented global InterAcademy Partnership project by 130 science academies, a team of scientists from across Europe undertook a two-year, extensive analysis on the future of food, nutrition, agriculture, and health.

Scientists from national academies across Europe are calling for urgent action on food and nutrition in a new rigorous and independent report published today by the European Academies' Science Advisory Council (EASAC). This thorough analysis has implications for policy-makers working on food, nutrition, health, the environment, climate change, and agriculture. Combating malnutrition in all its forms - undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies as well as overweight and obesity - is a problem faced by all countries. Research and innovation will be central to finding solutions to these local-global and multidisciplinary, interconnected challenges. Evidence must underpin the policies that deliver Europe's future approach to these issues. The report recommends being more ambitious in identifying and using scientific opportunities: how the current evidence base can shape understanding of both supply- and demand-side challenges, and how the research agenda should be defined, including basic research, to fill knowledge gaps.

Climate change will have negative impacts on food systems, necessitating the introduction of climate-smart agriculture such as the adoption of plant breeding innovations to cope with drought. Agriculture and current diets also contribute substantially to climate change. Mitigating this contribution depends on climate-smart food systems such as land-sparing and agronomic management practices together with efforts to influence consumer behaviours associated with excessive agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, including the overconsumption of calories and meat. Changing dietary consumption could bring co-benefits to health and to climate change.

Top line findings by the panel of scientists include:

Food consumption will need to change to improve consumer health:Farming and agriculture have significant impacts on human health and the environment:Europe should not stall on opportunities offered by genome editing, precision agriculture and the use of large data sets: Underpinning all of the scientists' recommendations is a clear call to integrate research and innovation into all of these topics, where many questions remain from a scientific perspective. An evidence-based food systems approach that integrates all of these issues is recommended. Europe must capitalise on opportunities to co-design research across disciplines to understand better the nexus food-water-other ecosystem services and to inform the better coordination of relevant policy instruments, including the Common Agricultural Policy, Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive. Efforts to increase food systems' efficiency should not focus on increasing agricultural productivity by ignoring environmental costs.
-end-
Notes to editors

This report is a part of a global project led by the InterAcademy Partnership and will be joined by three complementary reports focusing on the Americas, Africa, and Asia which will be published in the first quarter of 2018. This global project has been supported by 130 science academies around the globe in an unprecedented effort to bring together the latest knowledge on the future of food, health, and the environment. The global comparative report will be published in mid-2018. The IAP project is distinctive and adds value to the large body of work already undertaken by many other groups.

This project was formulated so as to stimulate the four regional networks in diverse analysis and synthesis according to their own experience, traditions and established policy priorities, while, at the same time, conforming to shared academy standards for clear linkage to the evidence available. The project as a whole and in its regional parts was also underpinned by necessary quality assessment and control, particularly through peer review procedures. The networks of science academies involved in the project are grateful for the financial support provided by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

About EASAC

EASAC is formed by the national science academies of the EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland, to collaborate in giving advice to European policy-makers. EASAC provides a means for the collective voice of European science to be heard. Through EASAC, the academies work together to provide independent, expert, evidence-based advice about the scientific aspects of European policies to those who make or influence policy within the European institutions.

Contact information

Dr. Robin Fears
Email: robin.fears@easac.eu
Phone: +44 1279 504270
Mobile: +44 (0) 7597 308284

Molly Hurley-Depret
Email: molly.hurley-depret@easac.eu
Mobile: +352 691 112 882

European Academies' Science Advisory Council, Leopoldina - Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.