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FAO urges food sustainability without damaging the environment

Staff Writer |
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva stressed that while high-input and resource intensive farming systems have substantially increased food production, this has come at a high cost to the environment.

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To achieve sustainable development we must transform current agriculture and food systems, including by supporting smallholders and family farmers, reducing pesticide and chemical use, and improving land conservation practices, Graziano da Silva said addressing European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

“Massive agriculture intensification is contributing to increased deforestation, water scarcity, soil depletion and the level of greenhouse gas emission,” Graziano da Silva said.

He stressed that while high-input and resource intensive farming systems have substantially increased food production, this has come at a high cost to the environment.

“Today, it is fundamental not only to increase production, but to do it in a way that does not damage the environment,” he said. “Nourishing people must go hand in hand with nurturing the planet.”

This is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, he added.

“We have to move from input intense to knowledge intense production systems,” he said.

Speaking to members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Graziano da Silva highlighted the findings of the FAO's report, The future of food and agriculture: trends and challenges.

Among the 15 trends described in the report are the impacts of climate change, conflicts and migration. The FAO report also foresees 10 challenges for achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture worldwide.

In his address, he focused on four main issues: climate change; the spread of transboundary pests and diseases; food loss and waste; and the importance of eradicating not only hunger, but all forms of malnutrition in the world.

Graziano da Silva underscored that no sector is more sensitive to climate change than agriculture — especially for smallholders and family farmers from developing countries — while at the same time, agriculture and food systems account for around 30% of total greenhouse emissions.


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