IPES-FOOD/GAFF: A SYSTEMIC APPROACH TO FOOD SYSTEMS’ IMPACTS ON HUMAN HEALTH

12 Octubre 2017

Commissioned by the Global Alliance of the Future of Food (GAFF) and authored by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), this report provides an in-depth analysis if interconnected issues linking food systems and human health.

 

After reviewing and analysing the current set of scientific evidence, the authors identify five key channels of impact :
1/ Occupational Hazards ;
2/ Environmental Contamination ;
3/ Contaminated, Unsafe, and Altered Foods ;
4/ Unhealthy Dietary Patterns ; and
5/ Food Insecurity.

 

An urgent case for reforming food and farming systems can be made on the grounds of protecting human health. The report emphasizes the need to explore the social, structural, and environmental determinants of health associated with food systems, and identifies five co-dependent leverage points for building healthier food systems:

  • Promoting food systems thinking;
  • Reasserting scientific integrity and research as a public good;
  • Bringing the alternatives to light;
  • Adopting the precautionary principle; and
  • Building integrated food policies under participatory governance.

 

The report also assesses the human and economic costs of food systems’ health impacts, and the self-reinforcing feedback loops between human health, climate change and poverty from a food system perspective.

Key messages of the report provide the following insights :

  • Alongside many positive impacts, our food systems have increasingly affected health through multiple, interconnected pathways, generating severe human and economic costs ;
  • An urgent case for reforming food and farming systems can be made on the grounds of protecting human health;
  • The health impacts of food systems are interconnected, self-reinforcing, and complex — but we know enough to act;
  • The low power and visibility of those most affected by food systems jeopardizes a complete understanding of the health impacts, leaving major blind spots in the evidence base;
  • Power — to achieve visibility, frame narratives, set the terms of debate, and influence policy — is at the heart of the food–health nexus;
  • Urgent steps are required to reform food systems practices, and to transform the ways in which knowledge is gathered and transmitted, understandings are forged, and priorities are set;
  • The evidence on food systems impacts must continue to grow, but a new basis is required for reading, interpreting, and acting on that evidence in all of its complexity;
  • Five co-dependent leverage points can be identified for building healthier food systems;
  • The monumental task of building healthier food systems requires more democratic and more integrated ways of managing risk and governing food systems.

 

You can download the complete report here, as well as the executive summary of the report, and the Q&A addendum explaining the authors’ approach.