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UN Report: Fragile Climate Puts Food Security at Risk

Tooba Maher
Tooba Maher

A report by UN Food and Agricultural Organization said that feeding a hungry planet is increasingly difficult as climate change and depletion of land and other resources undermines food systems. 

According to the report, “Population growth requires supplies of more nutritious food at affordable prices, but increasing farm output is hard given the "fragility of the natural resource base" since humans have outstripped Earth's carrying capacity in terms of land, water, and climate change.” 

Increasing farm output beyond sustainable levels can cause permanent damage to ecosystems, the report said, noting that it often causes soil erosion, pollution with plastic mulching, pesticides and fertilizers, and a loss of biodiversity. As per the report, China destroys 12 million tons of tainted grain each year, at a loss of nearly $2.6 billion. 

About 820 million people are malnourished. The FAO and International Food Policy Research Institute released the report at the outset of a global conference aimed at speeding up efforts to achieve zero hunger around the world. 

Food security remains tenuous for many millions of people who lack access to affordable, adequately nourishing diets for a variety of reasons, the most common being poverty. But it's also endangered by civil strife and other conflicts.  

In Yemen, thousands of civilians have died in airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition, the aid group Save the Children says 85,000 children younger than 5 may have died of hunger or disease in the civil war. 

According to UNHCR, “In Afghanistan, severe drought and conflict have displaced more than 2,50,000 people.” 

The FAO estimated that global demand for food will jump by half from 2013 to 2050. Thereby, farmers can expand land-use to help make up some of the difference.  But in places like Asia and the Pacific, this option is also constrained. Urbanization is still eating up more land that once may have been used for agriculture. 

FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said, "After decades of gains in fighting hunger, this is a serious setback and FAO and the U.N. sister agencies, together with member governments and other partners, are all very concerned. 

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