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Better Foods for Human Health

31 January 2013 by Silliker Australia

Better foods for human health

Food safety and nutrition are major global public health challenges. By 2050 the world's population will reach nearly 9.2 billion, 34% higher than today. In order to feed this larger, more urban and richer population, food production must increase by 70%.

This will require ecological intensification of production and a reduction in the current inequalities with regard to consumption: reducing undernutrition in some regions, while cutting waste and excess food consumption in others. Food waste and loss, including loss from inadequate storage, currently represents 30%-50% of food production.

Agriculture will also have to adapt and increase its production while contributing to the mitigation of climate change. Fresh water resources are unevenly distributed and water scarcity could be made more acute by changing rainfall patterns resulting from climate change. Agriculture will also have to compete with sprawling urban settlements for land and water. In addition, increased use of food crops for biofuel production could lead to competition between food and fuel, and have serious implications for food security.

What is also changing rapidly is understanding that good nutrition is key to building and sustaining health and well-being. A number of countries now include food quality in their public health policies, and are mobilising their regulatory authorities and agri-food sector to address this important issue. In recent years, the agri-food industry has been investing in research and development in order to bring consumers new generations of foods that are beneficial to their health.

However, the challenges are multiple: to define food, food components and diets that improve the health and quality of life of populations while at the same time ensuring optimal delivery and distribution of food.

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