Biodiversity on our plate: the health and nutrition connection

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A diverse diet is a healthy diet. Research has shown that increasing the number of species and varieties we grow and consume can deliver a full range of nutrients and benefits to nourish human health.

This is particularly urgent because our food systems fail to provide the nourishment we need. Food diversity in production and consumption has reached an all-time low, due to several compounding crises: climate change, land degradation, and the prioritization of mass production of cheap, low-quality food. In 2022, 3 in 10 people globally – some 2.4 billion people – were moderately to severely food insecure while more than 4 people in 10, over 3.1 billion people, were unable to afford a safe, nutritious diet particularly vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples. As proof of our low diverse global diet, we now obtain over 50% of our plant-based calories from only three crops: rice, wheat and maize.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Agrobiodiversity – the wealth of different plants, animals, and micro-organisms that make up our agri-food systems – can provide a bountiful menu of different foods, species and genetic diversity to transform food production systems. If policymakers, industry and development organizations incentivize the integration of agrobiodiversity, we can improve livelihoods, reduce health risks, and make what we eat more sustainable, equitable, and resilient.

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