How to transform food systems to feed the world and prevent mass extinctions

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On May 6, a global panel of scientists representing more than 130 nations released the summary of theirGlobal Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, containing dire warnings about rapidly declining biodiversity worldwide and the adverse impacts it will have on human well-being.

The report highlights five major ways in which humans are driving these declines in biodiversity and ecosystem services over the last 50 years—changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution, and invasion of non-native species.

All these activities are closely interlinked with food systems, and the report itself notes that “feeding the world in a sustainable manner entails the transformation of food systems.”

Food systems are comprised of the many elements that add up to the ways people get their food—the farms where food is produced, the businesses that process food into products, the markets and restaurants where it is sold and consumed, the policies that shape every step of the process, and much more.

Image: Gert-Jan Stads/IFPRI

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