Foresight: the future of food and farming: Final project report, by Government Office for Science, London, 2011, 208 pp.
This report provides evidence that the world agricultural and food production and distribution system is dysfunctional, in terms of both its failure to provide and distribute the food necessary for keeping the world’s population healthy, and of minimizing environmental damage.
Statistics in the report show that only 57% of the world’s population consumes a reasonable amount and quality of the food needed to keep in good health. About 28% receive too little food, and about 14% consume too much (pp.9–10). Economic growth and technological change have combined to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and severe deprivation. However, there are still many people who suffer from severe deprivation – hunger, starvation and poor health. These are people who have insufficient land on which to grow food for themselves and their families, together with those who are unemployed and cannot afford to buy food.
This report includes a wealth of statistical and other data, together with bibliographic references, but it lacks historical perspective and a coherent analytical framework. Accordingly, it fails to achieve its aim of identifying ‘the decisions that policy makers need to take to ensure that the global population can be fed sustainably and equitably’.
The full review has been published in Prometheus, 29:3, 309-313, December, 2011.