Nourishing Humanity without Destroying the Planet

Ethics and International Affairs 35 (1):69-81 (2021)
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As part of the roundtable, “Ethics and the Future of the Global Food System,” this essay discusses some of the major challenges we will face in feeding the world in 2050. A first challenge is nutritional: 690 million people are currently undernourished, while 2.1 billion adults are overweight or obese. The current global food system is insufficient in ensuring that the nutritious foods that make up healthy diets are available and accessible for the world's population. Moreover, by 2050, as the global population increases, food demand will increase by 50–60 percent. A fundamental challenge is meeting this demand while not wreaking irreversible havoc on natural resources, the environment, and planetary systems. A body of scientific research has coalesced around the need to reduce food loss and waste, adopt environmentally sustainable production practices, and shift toward plant-dominant diets. Other long-standing food system problems include deficits in providing fair wages and decent working conditions for food system workers, threats to smallholder farmer livelihoods, and tens of billions of animals kept in welfare-deficit confinement conditions. These food system challenges are bad states of affairs that matter from a variety of moral perspectives. In other words, there is a robust moral case for addressing these challenges. Yet concerted policy action in this area is insufficient and largely absent, pointing to the underlying challenge and complexity of political inertia.



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A Framework for the Ethical Analysis of Novel Foods: The Ethical Matrix.Mepham Ben - 2000 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 12 (2):165-176.

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