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A new report from the Commission for the Human Future is calling for a transformation to the global food production system to one that is renewable, healthy and fair to all, highlighting Australia is not immune to the issues surrounding food security.

The Commission’s second Round Table Conference on global threats and solutions suggests there needs to be worldwide effort to change global food production, following from the United Nations' warning that world food supplies are failing, with the COVID-19 pandemic adding pressure. 

The report, authored by 40 Australian food and sustainability experts, outlines food security as one of 10 interconnected threats to human survival, alongside global warming, overpopulation and the release of harmful chemicals into the environment.

The report further states the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fractured industrial food chain, as well as food supply being “imperilled by scarcities of soil, water and nutrients, genetic narrowing and climatic instability”.

“We must all eat, every day, to survive and thrive. That demands more than eight trillion meals a year. However, our second Round Table concludes that the future of food cannot be taken for granted,” said Commission chairman Professor John Hewson AM.

“Our report is a call for action by everyone – farmers, consumers, industry, governments, communities, indigenous people, scientists, cooks and investors – to join in building a healthy, renewable food industry for the future. We want to stir discussion, debate, ideas and a worldwide movement to transform food.”

“Food involves everyone personally, not just governments or corporations. Reshaping our food supply, both here in Australia and internationally, offers an unparalleled opportunity to reshape our world.

Speaker and author of Food for a Better Future, and director of Food & Nutrition Australia, Sharon Natoli, told Food & Drink Business that the report highlights the “under-estimated power of food”, as well as the significance of those working in the business food to drive future environmental, health, social, cultural and economic change.

“There has been great change and innovation highlighting the capability the industry has to keep moving and transforming,” said Natoli.

“Today, we are already seeing many of the calls to action outlined in the report coming to life.  For example, new companies built around regenerative agricultural principles, new foods made from food waste, vertical and aquaponic farming businesses enabling fresh food to be grown in cities and unused urban spaces, and many new plant-based products as some examples of innovation that is addressing these issues.”

Natoli said the food sector occupies a position of “great responsibility” and perhaps one of opportunity to lead change toward the creation of a better future for people, the population and the planet, “all while building the conditions for long term business growth and resilience”.

“One of the keys to leveraging the responsibility and opportunity that presents itself right now through the big global challenges we face, and as highlighted by this report, is through a further shift in mindset,” said Natoli.

The report further outlines solutions to build a renewable world food system, including the growth of more food in cities and deep oceans, and converting extractive farming to regenerative agriculture, as well as encouraging circular food economies, where resources such as water and nutrients are recycled and not wasted.

The Commission will soon release a second report from the Round Table discussion, focussing on policy changes and opportunities for Australia in the food sphere.

The full report can be accessed here.

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