A print version of this report and Exploring Sustainable Solutions for Increasing Global Food Supplies will be published together in one volume available in 2012.
There are few areas of human endeavor in which the challenge of sustainability is clearer than in food and agriculture. Farmers and animal keepers must use natural resources--the physical environment of soil, water, and the sun--in ways that generate a continuous supply of food adequate to satisfy people's biological needs for survival and their economic demands. Degradation of soil, inappropriate management of water, and the use of practices that have negative effects on the climate may increase food security in the short run, but will decrease output over time and threaten the survival of future generations. Sustainable management of natural resources and the environment is fundamental to future food security. Action by governments and other agents within and outside the food system may help or hinder sustainability. There is much evidence showing that the current global food system is not sustainable.
Measuring Food Insecurity and Assessing the Sustainability of Global Food Systems summarizes a National Research Council workshop, held in February 2011, which explored the availability and quality of commonly used indicators for food security and malnutrition; poverty; and natural resources and agricultural productivity. The workshop was organized around the three broad dimensions of sustainable food security: availability, access, and utilization. Within these topics, the workshop aimed to review the existing data to encourage action and identify the knowledge gaps.
A second workshop, held in May 2011, examined ways to sustainably increase global food supplies, natural resource constraints, and necessary policies. A report of that workshop will be available later this year.
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