A report released by the Food System Economics Commission (FSEC) has underscored the urgent need for substantial reforms in the global food system. The comprehensive assessment, conducted over four years, highlights the significant economic, health, and environmental costs associated with current practices in food production, marketing, and consumption.
According to the report, the current food system incurs annual losses of approximately $15 trillion, primarily attributed to health-related expenses such as poor nutrition and non-communicable diseases, as well as environmental degradation including biodiversity loss and climate change impacts.
Vera Songwe, co-chair of the FSEC and executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, emphasized the gravity of the situation, noting that decisive action is necessary to address the substantial economic losses and mitigate further environmental harm.
The report presents two divergent pathways for the future of food systems: one continuing along current trends and the other advocating for transformative changes. The latter proposes policy interventions such as taxing agricultural pollution, reallocating subsidies towards healthier and more sustainable foods, and leveraging innovative technologies to reduce environmental impacts.
While the proposed reforms would require significant investments, estimated between $200 to $500 billion annually, the potential benefits are substantial. It is projected that such measures could yield up to $10 trillion in health and economic benefits each year.
Experts, including food writer and Harvard professor Michael Pollan, have echoed the report’s call to action, emphasizing the urgent need for policymakers to prioritize the restructuring of food systems to address the pressing challenges of health, sustainability, and economic resilience.
As policymakers grapple with the complex issues facing the global food system, the report serves as a critical resource, providing evidence-based recommendations for creating a more resilient and sustainable food future.
Download the full report here.