An Aproach To A Sustainable Food System

Climate change, population growth and high energy prices means that many experts worry that farmers will struggle over the next generation to produce enough food for everyone. Policies can make farming more sustainable and help us overcome this problem. Huge amounts of data show that modern food systems is extremely wasteful insufficient irrigation means that we squander vast amounts of precious water while many farmers apply more fertilizers than plants can use. These excess nutrients run off fields and pollute rivers and lakes. Westerners waste 30 to 50% of the food we buy. Many argue that because of negative externalities such as wasting the food we don’t consume Policies are needed to ensure that farmers processors retailers and consumers pay the full cost of producing our food. One way is to pass laws that make farmers pay for things they use from the environment mostly this has been tried in irrigated farming systems where countries have experimented with charging farmers more for the water they draw from aquifers or wells. Another way is by paying farmers for ecosystem services which is a fancy way of saying the things that the environment gives us. For instance in European Union has policies that pay farmers for maintaining wildlife habitat and biodiversity.

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This is useful because it creates an incentive for farmers to tolerate wildlife that might otherwise be seen simple as a pest. A third approach is to tax pollution or waste. Policies are enacted that make us bear the full price of our food then it stands to reason that food prices will go up. And if food prices go up it also stands to reason that we will throw less out. This could be particularly a useful strategy that gets consumers to throw away less food. Yet again there could be negative consequences of those policies, for example policies that force consumers to bear full cost of their food might also cause a rise in food insecurity and malnutrition for those consumers who could not afford to pay more for food. So it is very important for policy makers to develop strategies to correct negative externalities such strategies must go hand in hand with other policies to protect the poor from the negative effects of price increases. Distribution, Local food systems and science tech will play a major role in trying to solve the problem in a more sustainable food systems.

 

http://www.sustainablefoodpolicy.org/

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/327/5967/822

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1 Comment

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One response to “An Aproach To A Sustainable Food System

  1. amyquandt

    How would taxing farmers impact the farmers themselves? How would they pay for this financially?

    Like

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