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Nature. 2018 Oct;562(7728):519-525. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0594-0. Epub 2018 Oct 10.

Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits.

Author information

1
Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. marco.springmann@dph.ox.ac.uk.
2
Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. marco.springmann@dph.ox.ac.uk.
3
Natural Resources Science and Management, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN, USA.
4
Environment and Production Technology Division, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, DC, USA.
5
CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia.
6
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany.
7
CEIGRAM/Agricultural Production, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
8
Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
9
WWF International, Gland, Switzerland.
10
Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy, Chatham House, London, UK.
11
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA.
12
Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
13
Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
14
EAT, Oslo, Norway.
15
Agricultural Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Bioversity International, Rome, Italy.
16
Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.
17
Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
18
Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.
19
Department of International Health of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.
20
Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
21
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
22
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN, USA.
23
Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA.
24
Department of Epidemiology and Department of Nutrition, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

The food system is a major driver of climate change, changes in land use, depletion of freshwater resources, and pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems through excessive nitrogen and phosphorus inputs. Here we show that between 2010 and 2050, as a result of expected changes in population and income levels, the environmental effects of the food system could increase by 50-90% in the absence of technological changes and dedicated mitigation measures, reaching levels that are beyond the planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity. We analyse several options for reducing the environmental effects of the food system, including dietary changes towards healthier, more plant-based diets, improvements in technologies and management, and reductions in food loss and waste. We find that no single measure is enough to keep these effects within all planetary boundaries simultaneously, and that a synergistic combination of measures will be needed to sufficiently mitigate the projected increase in environmental pressures.

Comment in

PMID:
30305731
DOI:
10.1038/s41586-018-0594-0

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