A Sustainability Challenge: Food Security for All: Report of Two Workshops (2012) --- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
There are few areas of human endeavor in which the challenge of sustainability is clearer than in food and agriculture. Farmers and animal keepers must use natural resources―the physical environment of soil, water, and the sun―in ways that generate a continuous supply of food adequate to satisfy people’s biological needs for survival and their economic demands. Degradation of soil, inappropriate management of water, and the use of practices that have negative effects on the climate may increase food security in the short run, but will decrease output over time and threaten the survival of future generations. Sustainable management of natural resources and the environment is fundamental to future food security. Action by governments and other agents within and outside the food system may help or hinder sustainability. There is much evidence showing that the current global food system is not sustainable.
In Europe, the United States, and other high-income regions and countries, consumers have become complacent about the ability of the food system to deliver the food they want and need when they want and need it. The use of “improved” technologies, incorporating both scientific knowledge and significant capital investment, has enabled producers to generate substantial volumes of food per unit of natural resource input at affordable prices. New storage technologies have reduced losses and, combined with transport improvements, have limited supply disruptions. Processing technologies have multiplied the number of consumable products derived from a particular crop or animal. Wholesale and retail sales operations have become increasingly efficient in providing the final link to the consumer. Together, production, storage, processing, and delivery operations combine in variable ways and form robust, demand-driven agricultural value chains that deliver safe and tasty food, on a reliable basis, to many consumers. Competition among participants in all segments of the chains helps to ensure that costs are controlled and products are affordable to even low-income consumers in those regions and countries.
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