The U.K. Department for Business Innovation and Skills has released the results of a Foresight project titled “The Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and choices for global sustainability,” which examines “the increasing pressures on the global food system between now and 2050.” Sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for International Development, the report apparently relied on 400 experts from 35 countries to analyze five key challenges: (i) “Balancing future demand and supply sustainably”; (ii) “Ensuring that there is adequate stability in food prices”; (iii) “Achieving global access to food and ending hunger”; (iv) “Managing the contribution of the food system to the mitigation of climate change”; and (v) “Maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services while feeding the world.”

The report urges policy-makers “to consider the global food system from production to plate” and adopt “a broad view of food that goes beyond narrow perspectives of nutrition, economics and food security.” In particular, the project’s high-level conclusions focus on sustainable agriculture that conserves water, minimizes waste and curbs the consumption of resource-intensive foods; adaptation to climate change; prioritization of rural development to end hunger; and curbs on the loss of biodiversity. The findings also warn against excluding new technologies such as genetic modification “a priori on ethical or moral grounds,” calling instead for increased research investment in modern agricultural technologies as well as “open and transparent decision-making.”

“The solution is not just to produce more food, or change diets, or eliminate waste,” opines the report. “The potential threats are so great that they cannot be met by making changes piecemeal to parts of the food system. It is essential that policy-makers address all areas at the same time.” See BBC News, January 24, 2011.