We can feed the planet and save the world
‘Eating the planet? How we can feed the world without trashing it’, is published as world leaders prepare to meet in Rome (Italy) to discuss food security.
It reveals that humane and ecological farming can provide enough food to feed a growing world population, without any further conversion of forests to agriculture. Our ability to do this increases greatly with a healthier and more equitable distribution of meat and dairy in global diets.
Cruel and intensive factory farming practices currently used to mass produce meat and food mainly for people in rich countries are destroying forests and wildlife as land is cleared to grow animal feed and graze cattle. People in rich countries eat around six times as much meat as those in the poorest countries. Intensive factory farming practices are also responsible for at least 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions through deforestation and heavy use of chemicals and energy.
The new research models future food production against different diets, farming methods and land use, and concludes that enough food can be produced to feed the growing world population with fairer and healthier diets whilst avoiding deforestation and animal cruelty.
Continuing current trends of industrial farming and meat and dairy consumption will push the world’s climate and resources over the edge.
Despite pushes from agribusiness to intensify farming to feed a global population expected to reach over nine billion by 2050, the researchers found that a global diet equivalent to eating meat three times a week would allow equal nutrition for all with forests remaining untouched, animals farmed in free-range conditions and greener farming methods used.
With as many people obese in the West as malnourished in poor countries – roughly a billion of each – distributing protein more fairly is also an opportunity to tackle global health problems, the report points out.
But feeding the world in an ecological way means there will be little room to grow agricultural crops to feed cars (agrofuels). Feeding people must come first.
Friends of the Earth International is calling on governments to switch support from factory farming to ecological and humane methods.
The world's largest grassroots environmental federation is demanding that governments recognise the impacts of factory farming and take action to support food sovereignty – peoples’ right to control their own food production, in an ecological and culturally appropriate way. In particular they are demanding an end to industrial corporate controlled farming and a return to small scale peasant farming which has proven environmental and social benefits.
Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Friends of the Earth International food campaigner, said:
“Agribusinesses and biotechnology companies are aggressively promoting their model of high input intensive farming as necessary to address the food and climate crises, and this research blows their claims out of the water. Factory farming is wiping out forests and destroying small farmer livelihoods to profit a handful of big businesses so it’s amazing news that we can feed a rapidly expanding population without trashing the planet. With as many obese as malnourished people in the world, fairer and healthier lower-meat diets are a win-win for people and the planet. Food sovereignty is a clear framework that put the needs of people and planet over those of big business and it’s about time governments across the globe adopted it.”
Nicky Stocks, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland press officer: +44-7812 659 777
Valentina Moressa, Compassion in World Farming +44-777 19 26 005