Thought leader addresses changes that need to be made for a more sustainable food system

A global agriculture, food, and nutrition thought leader says the coronavirus pandemic has amplified food security challenges around the world.

Ertharin Cousin says there are several changes that need to be made to address hunger and improve food systems.

“Investments in research and innovation including adequate public and private sector financing to commercialize adoption and scale of innovations across all food supply chains,” she says. “Transforming to a more resilient and sustainable food system requires innovations which must support advancements from soil conservation through ag tech, including digital and biotech, ensuring improved seeds, crop protection, logistics, warehousing, distribution systems, plus institutional purchasing practices.”

Cousin, speaking during the 2021 agricultural symposium by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, said agricultural policy will be required at global, national, and regional levels.  

“Including a U.S. Farm Bill that supports transformation to a more sustainable food system,” she says.  “The agricultural food system we need for a sustainable food system, including environmental and human health and supporting economic return to farmers and retailers, is the system we should support through policy and regulation and how we finance the system.”  

Cousin says there must also be a reduction in food loss and waste.

“We talk about reduce, reuse, and recycle but we must also include upcycling opportunities where no food or food components are ever considered waste,” she says. “We must increase the nutritional, shelf, and refrigeration life of our food through our food processing and packaging including investments in the food-preservation technology to deliver better quality, more nutritious food.”

She says any future agriculture and food policy must also recognize racial injustices that have shaped the agriculture and food system.

Cousin is the distinguished fellow of Global Food and Agriculture at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment; founder and CEO of Food Systems for the Future; and most recently is serving as the Richard von Weizsacker Fellow. She was executive director of the UN World Food Programme from 2012 to 2017 and served as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome form 2009 to 2021.

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