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Sci Adv. 2015 Feb 20;1(1):e1400039. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1400039. eCollection 2015 Feb.

Addressing China's grand challenge of achieving food security while ensuring environmental sustainability.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China.
2
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, UK.
3
James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, Scotland, UK.
4
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.
5
College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100103, China.
6
State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents in Agriculture, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.

Abstract

China's increasingly urbanized and wealthy population is driving a growing and changing demand for food, which might not be met without significant increase in agricultural productivity and sustainable use of natural resources. Given the past relationship between lack of access to affordable food and political instability, food security has to be given a high priority on national political agendas in the context of globalization. The drive for increased food production has had a significant impact on the environment, and the deterioration in ecosystem quality due to historic and current levels of pollution will potentially compromise the food production system in China. We discuss the grand challenges of not only producing more food but also producing it sustainably and without environmental degradation. In addressing these challenges, food production should be considered as part of an environmental system (soil, air, water, and biodiversity) and not independent from it. It is imperative that new ways of meeting the demand for food are developed while safeguarding the natural resources upon which food production is based. We present a holistic approach to both science and policy to ensure future food security while embracing the ambition of achieving environmental sustainability in China. It is a unique opportunity for China to be a role model as a new global player, especially for other emerging economies.

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