A sustainable global food system in the 21st Century needs to be built on a series of “new fundamentals”, according to a leading food expert.
Tim Lang warned that the current system, designed in the 1940s, was showing “structural failures”, such as “astronomic” environmental costs.
The new approach needed to address key fundamentals like biodiversity, energy, water and urbanisation, he added.
Professor Lang is a member of the UK government’s newly formed Food Council.
“Essentially, what we are dealing with at the moment is a food system that was laid down in the 1940s,” he told BBC News.
“It followed on from the dust bowl in the US, the collapse of food production in Europe and starvation in Asia.
“At the time, there was clear evidence showing that there was a mismatch between producers and the need of consumers.”
Professor Lang, from City University, London, added that during the post-war period, food scientists and policymakers also thought increasing production would reduce the cost of food, while improving people’s diets and public health.
“But by the 1970s, evidence was beginning to emerge that the public health outcomes were not quite as expected,” he explained.
“Secondly, there were a whole new set of problems associated with the environment.”
Thirty years on and the world was now facing an even more complex situation, he added.
“The level of growth in food production per capita is dropping off, even dropping, and we have got huge problems ahead with an explosion in human population.”
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