Why we should be saving our food from climate change

Written by Sophie Barrow

Why we should be saving our food from climate change

There's a lot in the media about making your carbon footprint smaller to help slow down climate change. But did you know that we could also risk losing certain foods that we love to enjoy as well? Speciality crops like olives, mangoes and cacao need specific conditions to grow and survive - especially at the rate we produce them - and climate change is threatening to throw these conditions off-course. Our beautiful food systems are fragile, and it's high time we recognised this! 

Is this issue urgent?  

The population is growing. It's estimated that by 2050, the population will have increased to nearly 10 billion. This means that there'll be more mouths to feed, but it's also worth considering that the expanding middle classes around the globe demand increasingly diverse diets and diets high in protein. This has a massive impact on the environment. 

Not only is the demand greater, but its estimated that we'll lose 2-6% of arable land due to the changing climate. 


What are the advantages and dangers of GMOs?

GMOs aren't always bad- likewise, they're not all good either. GMOs mess with the essence of nature, which seems wrong - unnatural, to be precise. Many of the ways we're using genetic engineering and modification are very harmful to the environment - e.g. plants that can tolerate herbicides have led to the overuse of chemicals which pollutes the soil - to name just one of the many negative effects. 
However, there are parts of the world where crops must be able to withstand climatic pressures such as flooding or droughts. For instance, rice crop in some south east Asian paddy fields needs to be genetically modified to avoid drowning in the increasingly severe floods. If we think of this as a method for survival, it paints a very different picture to when we consider genetic modification to make profit. 

Meat and its alternative 

Not all meat is created equal. By this we mean there are cattle farms which are low-carbon in that they're growing crops in the same land where cattle are rotating, so are fertilising the field with their own animal waste - a 'closed-loop' system. 

While this may be a fantastic approach to meat production, it's very expensive to do and therefore to buy. Large-scale meat production can't rely on this method of farming - especially as the higher prices mean many institutions and individuals wouldn't be able to afford to buy it. 

It's no secret that by going vegan we can reduce our carbon footprint, but there are some amazing meat-free alternatives, like Beyond Meat or the 'clean meat', otherwise known as 'cell-based meat'. This is where they grow tissue from cells to make any kind of meat! While there's still concerns about how much energy this process consumes, it's a lot more efficient in terms of waste, and avoids issues with antibiotics and contamination. 


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