A recent editorial in the journal Nature highlights four policy solutions to potential food shortages exacerbated in part by the Ukraine war. Nature’s editors note that farming contributes 30% of all greenhouse-gas emissions, while “intensive agriculture,” where land is rapidly and repeatedly used for production, contributes to biodiversity loss. It would be beneficial, they say, to “minimize these impacts, while at the same time securing food supplies.”
Solution 1: It would help to eat fewer animal products. Why? The World Resource Institute says about one-third of the world’s croplands are used to produce feed for animals.
Solution 2: Nudge businesses and consumers to reduce food waste. Why? About one-third of the food that the world produces never gets eaten. According to the Nature editorial, that wasted food “is lost in the production chain or wasted once it reaches households. Improvements in harvesting and storage [and consumer purchasing and consumption] methods could potentially reduce losses.”
Solution 3: Encourage crop diversity. Adding more legumes, vegetables, and nuts will improve biodiversity, human and animal nutrition, and soil health.
Solution 4: Switch cropland use. Instead of growing plants for biofuel, grow them for food consumption. According to the Nature editorial, “In the United States, some 40% of maize is used to make ethanol. Research shows that biofuels grown on croplands are not as useful in climate mitigation as once thought.”