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Study labels food security as important as world peace

By RJ Whitehead , 19-Sep-2012
Last updated the 19-Sep-2012 at 06:52 GMT

Monash University's Mark Wahlqvist
Monash University's Mark Wahlqvist

New research suggests that securing a sustainable supply of nutritious food to feed the world’s fast-growing population is as big an issue as fighting wars, preventing disease and saving the environment.

The study by Monash University researchers, along with Analysis International and the National Health Research Institutes, was published in Food Security, revealing that governments must look at food security with far more urgency than they currently are.

The report’s lead author, Emeritus Professor Mark Wahlqvist from Monash University’s Asia-Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre at the Monash Asia Institute, wrote that: "Food security should be incorporated into the larger human security agenda in order to stress its relevance to conventional security requirements, and to gain support for it of a comparable or superior kind to that currently available for arms.

More dependent than you think

The world’s current and future health is far more dependent on food security than people think. Every body system and organ is nutritionally dependent and therefore at risk from food insecurity.”

The research looked at food security across Asia, although Wahlqvist remarked that producing enough affordable and nutritious food in environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable ways was in fact a global problem.

The research found that extensive resources and innovative socio-political structures were needed to deal with the many shifts in food security. It revealed that concerted efforts in family planning and enlightened migration are urgently required to reduce the growing mismatch between food supply and need in the world.

Governments must make a major effort to develop food systems that are minimally dependent on non-renewable energy sources and maximally dependent on solar, geothermal or tidal energy,” the report said.

Sustainable ecosytems are shrinking and disappearing, and we are foolish if we think we are a species that can be viable without them.”

Give greater support

The researchers also recommended giving greater support to public nutrition policy to encourage varied plant-based diets and discourage animal-based nutrition, which it scored poorly on sustainability, equity and affordability.

The optimal human diet, basic for our food security, is one of biological variety and depends on diversity. If we continue to destroy our ecosystems or the places where food is produced, then human security is in jeopardy,” Wahlqvist concluded.

Are governments facing up to the threat of food security? Are there good examples of lawmakers who are tackling the issue in the right way? Let us know in the comments below.