The United Nations has released an important new tally on the impact of the global food system on our health and the planet. According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the total hidden costs of the global food system amount to $12.7 trillion, approximately 10% of global GDP.
This report analyzed the health, social and environmental costs built into our current food system. The biggest financial impact is the health impact. Globally, 73% of all hidden costs incurred by FAO were related to diets that contribute to obesity and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The next biggest financial impact is environmental impact, accounting for more than 20% of quantified hidden costs.
“We know that agricultural systems face many challenges,” says David Laborde, Director of FAO’s Agronomics Economics Division. “And this report allows us to put a price tag on these issues.”
The hidden costs of food systems vary widely across countries. In low-income countries, almost half of hidden costs are related to poverty, partly due to farmers not being able to grow enough food or being paid a fair price for their produce. It may be. In these countries, the hidden costs of food amount to an average of 27 percent of GDP, compared to just 8 percent in high-income countries. FAO’s figures use 2020 purchasing power parity dollars, a method of comparing living standards in countries with widely different incomes and prices.
These hidden costs can be interrelated. Laborde gave the example of cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate. Cocoa is mainly grown in Ghana and Ivory Coast, where farmers are often paid high wages. their crops are few. Its cocoa is mainly eaten by people in high-income countries, especially those in Europe, and is usually eaten in the form of sugar-filled chocolate bars. If Europeans eat a little less chocolate but pay more for fairer, higher-quality products, more money will go to farmers in West Africa while reducing the health impact in Europe. Laborde says there is a possibility that
Calculating these cross-border values can be incredibly complex, says Jack Bobo, director of the Food Systems Research Institute at the University of Nottingham. Take the EU one. Farm-to-table strategyThis goal aims, among other things, to make a quarter of Europe’s agricultural land organic by 2030 and to reduce fertilizer use by at least 20%. Achieving these goals will likely reduce Europe’s hidden environmental costs, but will likely also ultimately reduce costs.reduce overall productivity A view of European farms. This could mean European countries need to import more food from countries like Brazil, which would encourage deforestation and further increase hidden environmental costs there. Become.