Scientists Call for ‘Global Agricultural Revolution’ and ‘Planetary Health Diet’ to Save Lives—and Earth

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Scientists Call for ‘Planetary Health Diet’ to Save Lives—and Earth

“The food we eat and how we produce it shapes the health of people and the planet. We are getting this very wrong.”

Scientists continue to tell us to stop using fossil fuels. A team of scientists are also telling us to change the world’s unhealthy and unsustainable food system.

“Healthy diets must have appropriate calories and consist of a variety of plant-based foods. They must also have low amounts of animal-based foods and be low in refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.” —Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard University

“We need to completely change the global food system. It must suit each country’s situation,” said Tim Lang of University of London.

37 experts from 16 countries worked together on the project. Over three years, they developed the “planetary health diet.” This aims to address both the environment and poor health.

More than eight hundred million people worldwide don’t have enough food. Many more eat an unhealthy diet. This leads to early death and disease. “The world’s diets must change dramatically” said Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University.

“This is the first attempt to set global scientific targets for the food system, according to the final report, Food in the Anthropocene: Healthy Diets From Sustainable Food Systems (pdf).

The “Great Food Transformation” acknowledges that the world population will reach an estimated 10 billion by 2050.

“Humanity is now a threat to the planet,” Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Center told the Guardian. “This requires a new global agricultural revolution.”

The scientists also identified actions that individuals can take to help transform the global food system. They suggest buying more sustainably produced food, eating plant protein, and cutting meat consumption and food waste.

The planetary health diet follows a series of other studies. They have shown it is environmentally necessary for humans to dramatically reduce red meat consumption. The report estimates that shifting toward this diet could save at least 11 million adult lives annually.

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