Dear Friends and Colleagues
Industrial Food System in the US is Unhealthy, Inequitable and Unsustainable
A recently published report reviews the agriculture and food policy of the United States, its central role in shaping the food system, and some of the health, social, and environmental problems that are associated with it. It further examines the challenges of making the food supply safe, nutritious, and sustainable while respecting the rights of all people to have access to adequate food and to attain the highest standard of health.
Challenges pertaining to resource conservation, ecosystems and environmental health are identified in the report as soil degradation, freshwater depletion, water degradation, air degradation, biodiversity loss, fossil resource depletion and climate change. The review finds that although US policies address these to varying degrees, in some cases, they actually perpetuate them. The report also addresses the threats ofantimicrobial resistance, occupational safety, microbial and chemical contamination and diet-related diseases.
The review concludes that the current agricultural and food policies of the US support and perpetuate the dominant industrial model of production and govern a system that is largely unhealthy, inequitable, environmentally damaging and insufficiently resilient to endure the impacts of climate change, resource depletion and population increases; and is, therefore, unsustainable.
The reviewers call for urgent policy reform to transform the country's food system. Policy solutions that encourage healthy dietary choices, ensure food adequacy, and protect food system workers are imperative. They recommend an approach that combines the principles of human rights and the values of public health with an agroecological perspective to formulate policies that respect both the planetary and social boundaries of a just food system.
With best wishes,
FOOD SYSTEM POLICY, PUBLIC HEALTH, AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
Kerry L. Shannon ,Brent F. Kim, Shawn E. McKenzie, and Robert S. Lawrence
The US food system functions within a complex nexus of social, political, economic, cultural, and ecological factors. Among them are many dynamic pressures such as population growth, urbanization, socioeconomic inequities, climate disruption, and the increasing demand for resource intensive foods that place immense strains on public health and the environment. This review focuses on the role that policy plays in defining the food system, particularly with regard to agriculture. It further examines the challenges of making the food supply safe, nutritious, and sustainable, while respecting the rights of all people to have access to adequate food and to attain the highest standard of health. We conclude that the present US food system is largely unhealthy, inequitable, environmentally damaging, and insufficiently resilient to endure the impacts of climate change, resource depletion, and population increases, and is therefore unsustainable. Thus, it is imperative that the US embraces p olicy reforms to transform the food system into one that supports public health and reflects the principles of human rights and agroecology for the benefit of current and future generations.