Wed 15 September 2021:
Some 87% of total global annual support for food production worth $470 million is potentially dangerous to human health and damaging to nature and repurposing agricultural subsidies could help in eradicating world hunger and avert environmental degradation, a new UN report said on Tuesday.
“Global support to producers in the agricultural sector amounts to $540 billion per year, making up 15% of total agricultural production value,” the UN Environment Programme said in the report. “Yet 87% of this support, approximately $470 billion, is price distorting and environmentally and socially harmful.”
The report, entitled “A Multi-Billion-Dollar Opportunity” recommends transforming global agricultural support to transform food systems in an initiative launched by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the UN Development Programme and the UN Environment Programme. The recommendations will be reiterated at a Food Systems Summit set to take place later this month.
“The report …finds that current support to producers mostly consists of price incentives, such as import tariffs and export subsidies, as well as fiscal subsidies which are tied to the production of a specific commodity or input. These are inefficient, distort food prices, hurt people’s health, degrade the environment, and are often inequitable,” it said.
The report underlined that agriculture is one of the main contributors to climate change and that addressing the outsized meat and dairy industry in high-income countries, which alone contribute to 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, and the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers in lower-income countries would go a long way in curbing downstream harm.
In 2020, up to 811 million people in the world faced chronic hunger and nearly one in three people in the world (2.37 billion) did not have year-round access to adequate food. In 2019, around three billion people, in every region of the world, could not afford a healthy diet, the report said.
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