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Why biodiversity is key to global food security

A paradigm shift is needed in the way we approach food production and consumption to ensure sustainable global food security and healthy food systems and diets. Taking a ‘business as usual’ approach will only increase health and environmental costs.

A paradigm shift is needed in the way we approach food production and consumption to ensure sustainable global food security and healthy food systems and diets. "Taking a ‘business as usual’ approach will only increase health and environmental costs", writes Bioversity International's Director General in an op-ed for Europe's World.

One of the principal challenges in securing a sustainable future for people and the planet remains the sustainable production of and access to adequate food that is nutritious and safe for our growing population.

Research institutes, including Bioversity International, are producing evidence which shows that agricultural biodiversity has an increasingly critical role in providing healthy diets and sustainable food systems from local to global scales. To build on this evidence, three different yet interrelated dimensions of national and global food value chains and local food systems are being considered:

  1. Demand – focusing on dietary diversification for improved nutrition and health among low-income consumers, urban and rural;
  2. Supply – promoting diversified production systems capitalizing on a broad range of agricultural and tree biodiversity;
  3. An enabling environment – identifying ways to improve political, legal and institutional frameworks of food systems.

The findings of such research are being used to inform management practices and policy options aimed at scaling out the use of agricultural biodiversity for sustainable global food and nutrition security.

As an example of this approach in practice, together with national partners in Brazil, Bioversity International provides evidence of the nutritional value of agricultural biodiversity and its role in promoting healthy diets, strengthening livelihoods and improving overall food security. To expand the evidence for the value of agricultural biodiversity to food and nutrition security, more must be done to create enabling environments more conducive to both the undertaking and subsequent uptake of this research.

As the EU’s Standing Committee on Agricultural Research’s 4th foresight report is launched, we trust that it will explicitly recognize domestic and international food and nutrition insecurity and the sustainability of the current food system as a major challenge to be addressed as a European Union research priority over the next few years.

Read more in Ann Tutwiler's op-ed in Europe's World: Why biodiversity is key to global food security

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