The Next Agricultural Revolution?
One of the 21st century’s biggest challenges is devising the food systems to equitably, safely, and nutritiously feed the world’s growing population without destroying the ecosystems on which we depend on for life. However, solving this challenge is far more complicated than simply producing more food. For instance, enough food exists today to feed the world’s population, yet there are almost 2 billion overweight/obese people, while another 800 million are undernourished. Meanwhile, agriculture causes significant environmental problems. For many experts, technology — and in particular, the development of Big Data analytics — will allow us to solve these problems by producing more nutritious food with less environmental impact. However, these technologies are not a panacea and, unless they are deployed carefully, they will fall short in addressing some of the world’s most pressing food security problems. Consequently, we need comprehensive and holistic policy frameworks that support regional food systems, prioritize efficient food distribution, develop food literacy amongst consumers, boost production through science and technology, and also protect the environment.
This policy paper was written by Dr. Evan Fraser, Canada Research Chair, Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. It is part of the ISGP conference Equitable, Sustainable and Healthy Food Environments, convened in partnership with Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in May 2016.