Why Sustainability is Important When it Comes To Food

Providing more sustainable food is an important aspect of producing better food in general. Most of the current foods found in the groceries are unsustainable, and the existing food production system continues to destroy the environment, on which the production of food for the future depends. Modern provision production systems contribute to between 20 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions amount. The current system is also one of the leading causes of deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Sustainable agriculture sector can be used to make food, which does not cause harm to the environment. The production of genetically modified food is one of the ways, in which sustainable production can be achieved. This type of food production is important because it enables people to grow enough food without exhausting natural resources,  helps protect the environment, and boosts local economies.

Sustainability and Food Production

Over the past centuries, agriculture successfully met the growing demand for food. During the later stages of the 20th century, there was increased production of such staple foods as rice and wheat. It has led to decline in food prices, and the rate of food production exceeded the population growth rate. This boost was mainly attributed to the advance of scientific methods of food production, which included technological innovations, use of plant varieties, growth of infrastructure as well as irrigation, and use of pesticides and fertilizers.

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The first phase of the 21st century, however, has seen the world population, which grew at high rates; at the same time, current techniques, policies, practices, and innovations have undermined the production of food. People have degraded and overgrown the natural resources, upon which sustainable agriculture depends. There is also the overdependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels as well as creation of a system, which has taken the process of food growth out of the hands of farmers (Godfray, Beddington, Crute, Haddad, Lawrence, Muir, … & Toulmin, 2010). Thus, current system cannot be trusted to produce food, which can satisfy the entire population, since it has led to the deterioration of the agricultural conditions necessary for the development of this sector. Consequently, it will lead to increased chronic hunger, which can lead to the death of entire world population. It is important to note that the current food production system becomes sustainable and makes products, which can sustain the growing world population both in the short and long run.

The Importance of Sustainable Food

Sustainable production of food refers to the food production systems, which can meet the present demand for products without compromising the manufacturing of food by future generations. According to Freedman (2013b), sustainable food production is the production of food, which is produced and processed in a way that promotes the sustainable growth of livelihood and local economies, protects the diversity of both animals and plants, and avoids possible causing damage to the natural resources, thereby contributing to the reduction in climate change and providing such social benefits as good-quality food, healthy products, and educational opportunities to people. Alkon and Agyeman (2011), on the other hand, describe the sustainable food as one, which is safe, nutritious, and healthy for the consumers in the restaurants, shops, hospitals, schools, and at home. Sustainable food production should also be able to provide viable livelihood for the producers, processors, and retailers. A sustainable food production system must respect the environmental and biophysical limits in its functioning. It should support rural economies and promote the diversity of rural culture as well.

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Paying more attention to sustainable development and production of food enables individuals and societies to find balance between the economic impact of food production activities on the environmental and societal demands. Alkon and Agyeman (2011) suggest that food production has a complex relationship with individuals’ health, and hospitals are highly encouraged to find a significant opportunity, which can create benefits for their staff and patients. Sustainability is an important societal consideration in terms of food. There is a high obesity rate amongst the world population that leads to increased risks of cancer as well as liver and heart diseases. The investment in technologies, which promote sustainable development, can promote the creation of stronger local economies, thereby maximizing its contribution to the wellbeing and health of the population.

The establishment of sustainability in food production can also lead to the protection of environment and decline in global warming. According to Qaim and Kouser (2013), food production, distribution, and consumption account for about 22 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions due to the poor methods, techniques, and practices of fabrication. Producing food sustainably may cause reduction in negative  impact on the environment and help in reducing the production of greenhouse gasses.

Genetically modified foods, just like other organic foods, are produced through accredited systems, which can help farmers, consumers, and businesses to have products that have been grown with higher standards of animal welfare and observation of environmental as well as ethical principle. According to popular belief, GM food has a negative impact on human life. Some people think that, it can affect the quality and safety of food or that GM crops can influence the social and economic situation of farmers, thereby worsening or improving access to food. Nevertheless, there are different ways, in which GM food can contribute to sustainability and food security. What is even more important, GM food could lead to increased provision production, thereby improving the availability of food at the global and local levels in the short and long run.

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GM food production technologies can force food crops to yield higher and become more robust to abiotic and biotic stresses. It can not only increase food supplies but also stabilize the production and distribution of food, thereby leading to food sustainability. This process is important in the fight against the increasing and forecasted growth of food as well as water demand, land scarcity, and climate change. According to Qaim and Kouser (2013), 170 million hectares of land were planted with such genetically modified crops as corn, soya bean, canola, and cotton although the majority of these crops were not primarily grown to provide direct food. The same research stated that although agricultural commodities could have been higher if they were not for GM food, there could have been more negative impact if more GM foods were produced.

Genetic engineering can also affect the quality and safety of foods, which consumers use. It is true that crops having new traits can be linked with food security risks, all of which must be accessed and managed. However, these risks are not GM crops specific. Long-term research has confirmed that GM technologies are not more risky than the conventional food production ones. Freedman (2013a) contends that GM technology can contribute to breeding crops, which have higher micronutrient content, and Golden Rice tipped to have vitamin A in its grains. Projections and forecasts have also shown that these crops and foods can reduce nutritional deficiencies among poor population and, at the same time, entail significant health effects. They can, in turn, contribute to the emergence of positive health benefits and sustainability efforts.

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Sustainable production of food is an important issue in modern world. However, it cannot be achieved if there is no shift in the current way of food production. Food production system affects nearly everything starting from the environment and ending by the economy, societal wellbeing, and health of people and animals. It has been found that having more diversified landscape could help in the production of a healthier mix of livestock and crops for the regional and local markets. The change of the existing diet to the one including meat, processed food, more vegetables and fruits would lead to the creation of a more diversified farm landscape. There are several positive effects of practicing sustainable farming and food production. They include better nutrition, wellbeing, and health of consumers, improved local economies, and numerous benefits for the environment. GM foods can contribute to the increased provision production establishment, affect food safety as well as quality, and influence social and economic situation of farmers and consumers, thereby leading to achieving sustainability efforts.

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