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Tim Benton @FTF2013


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  • 1. Food security: thechallenges Tim Benton UK Champion for Global Food Security & Professor of Ecology, University of Leeds
  • 2. Today, food … • Is the world’s biggest industry • Is the world’s largest land user • Is the world’s largest water user • Is the world’s largest polluter and undermines essential environmental systems • Contributes to more ill-health than any other factor • We need it, daily • …but increasingly there isn’t enough of it
  • 3. This is a global matter thataffects us all…
  • 4. Those of us who are well fed, well garmented and well ordered, ought not to forget that necessity makes frequently theroot of crime. It is well for us to recollect that even in our own law-abiding, not to say virtuous cases, the only barrierbetween us and anarchy is the last nine meals we’ve had. It may be taken as axiomatic that a starving man is never agood citizen. AH Lewis 1896
  • 5. WWF ecological footprint indexFrom Living Planet Report 2012
  • 6. Unequal access to resources Germany: The Melander family – 4 mouths $500.07 per week 2005 Chad: The Aboubakar family - 6 mouths $1.23 per week
  • 7. Kit kat • Milk chocolate (66%) (sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, dried skimmed milk, whey powder, butterfat, vegetable fat, lactose, emulsifier (soya lecithin), flavouring), wheat flour, sugar, vegetable fat, cocoa mass, yeast, raising agent (sodium bicarbonate), salt, calcium sulphate, flavouring
  • 9. Population growth To 2050: Population will increase 35% (7.0- ~9.2 bn), 1 bn more in next 12 yrs in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia • 1.6m per week • 2000 cities the size of Edinburgh or 1250 the size of Leeds or 116 New Yorks
  • 10. Growth in global food demandAnimal protein expensive inresources to produce (ENA) • 35% more mouths by 2050 – Mainly in Asia, Africa and S. Am • Richer people eat more: – ~5bn people in middle class by 2030 (cf 1.8bn now), with associated higher consumption (meat, dairy and total volumes) – Mainly in Asia • 70% urbanised – Understanding of food systems • All add up to increased global food demand (FAO estimate 60% more)
  • 12. Globally, there’s no more land Foley et al (2011) , Nature
  • 13. Other constraints on production growth • Resource and regulatory squeezes: – NitrogenCost–benefit analysis – Fuelhighlights that theenvironmental costs of – Phosphateall N losses in Europe(estimated at €70–€320 – pesticidesbillion per year atcurrent rates) outweighsthe direct economicbenefits of N inagriculture. (EuropeanNitrogen Assessment 2010)
  • 14. Increasing competition for water Per Capita Water Requirement for FoodBy 2050 over halfthe world’spopulation will nothave enough waterto meet demands
  • 16. Increasing extremes “…in France and northern Italy, where over 70,000 people perished from heat-related causes….. Italy experienced a record drop in maize yields of 36% from a year earlier, whereas in France maize and fodder production fell by 30%, fruit harvests declined by 25%, and wheat harvests (which had nearly reached maturity by the time the heat set in) declined by 21%” Battisti 2009 Science
  • 17. Changing weather Historically, what was a 1 in 700 year event is now a 1 in 7-10 year event
  • 18. Extreme weather can haveExpected areacovered under global impacts“normal”historicalconditions 0.1% 2.1% 2.1%0.1% PNAS, online Aug 2012
  • 19. The same weather phenomenon can be very large scaleNeed to increase resilience throughout the food chain
  • 20.• 3527 local records broken in 2012 vs 3251 in 2011
  • 22. Agriculture’s environmental footprint is hugeFoley et al Science 2011 • 4.9b ha land used; – 75% of current gains in agricultural land via deforestation (FAOSTAT 2010; Lambin 2011) – Must cease land conversion (Stern report, TEEB) • ~25% of global GHG is from agriculture and associated land use change (Tillman 2011) – 18% in UK from agric and food sector (~60% fertiliser, ~40% livestock, Defra) • 24% soils on agricultural land degraded – 12m ha agricultural land lost p.a. (ISRIC 2009) • >70% water extraction for agriculture (FAO 2004) • Diffuse pollution – ~€300 bn across Europe (Eur. Nitr. Ass. 2011) • Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • 23. Biodiversity is important V A L U E S UK National ecosystem assessment 2011
  • 24. We are caught between arock and a hard place Agriculture is damaging the environment at an unsustainable rate: but we need more production
  • 26. “Sustainable Agriculture” needs… • Management of farming’s impacts within plots/fields • management of land to maintain other servicesSustainable agricultural landscapes require landscape planning:many services depend on the amount, quality andconfiguration of non-cropped habitat
  • 27. There is no recipe for “sustainableagriculture” High yielding organic agriculture can impact on ecology in similar ways to conventional farming Gabriel et al 2013 J appl ecology
  • 28. The most efficient production of servicesand yield may require land sparing… • If there is a trade-off between farming production and ecology then specialising different areas to produce (mainly) one product may produce more in aggregate than trying to produce both on the same land Gabriel et al. 2009 J app Ecol; 2010 Ecol Letts; Hodgson et al 2010 Ecol. Letts
  • 29. Zero sum game for demand
  • 31. Supply-side: “Win win” solutions • Manage soils better – Fertility, reduced erosion, soil “health”, soil carbon • Reduce waste, utilising new knowledge – Precision Farming – Chemical innovation for reduction of leaching loss – Recycling etc • Value ecosystem servicesRobotic weeding:Weed recognition through machine vision (26 species); – Pollination, natural enemies, waterapplies Glyphosphate only to the leaf of the weed (~1 g – Manage landscape configurationper hectare cf 720 g/ha) betterSimon Blackmore, Harper Adams • New crops and varieties – Role for GM and other molecular biology advances
  • 32. We need to save land forecology • Sustainable landscapes • Sustainable countries • Sustainable world
  • 34. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUTPRODUCTIONGlobal food losses/waste is estimated to be 1.3 billiontonnes per annum (pa), equating to approximately onethird of edible food intended for human consumptionThe total food production of sub-Saharan Africa =developed world food waste (230mt)
  • 35. Can we change our attitude tofood? • We want abundant, cheap, safe, nutritious, high-welfare, local and sustainable food – but we can’t have it all
  • 36. Thorny issues forsolutions • Reducing waste from field to meal • Sustainable and healthy diets and their adoption • Incorporating the real cost of food into its price and being willing to pay it: who has the power? • The role of novel technologies and public perceptions • Economic growth vs sustainability and valuing natural capital • Managing competition for resources (land, water, energy etc) • Weighting local vs international impacts and managing them • Transport, logistics, sovereignty, aid, equity
  • 37. What is the role of EU production infuture?
  • 39. The world is being usedunsustainably… • Pick questions to work on that matter • Use your skills wisely • Be creative, be bold • Be a leader not a follower • Make a difference…
  • 40. The world is being used unsustainably … What are you doing about it? What are you going to do about it? Many small changes add up to big changesAnimal protein isexpensive to produce(ENA)
  • 41. Conclusions • Food demand is increasing and supply is not keeping pace • Demand for food is likely to be a big driver of environmental issues in coming decades • Food insecurity has the potential to increase migration, increase the disparity between rich and poor and undermine social order • There are huge research challenges ahead • There are huge choices ahead about how we meet our demand • We can all do our bit by respecting food, understanding food, reducing waste and eating sensibly • But we can’t have it all: an abundance of cheap food worldwide produced with no impact.
  • 42. Thank you!