CHINA / SOCIETY
Food quantity and quality need to be improved: experts
Published: Feb 05, 2021 08:25 PM

Farmers in Jiujiang, East China’s Jiangxi Province harvest Gardenia jasminoides Ellis at a local traditional Chinese medicine base. Photo: IC


 
Following reports by various world organizations flagging the challenges in both food and biodiversity, experts have urged action to be taken by transforming diet patterns, the agricultural production model and trade regulations against the backdrop of a global pandemic. 

At an online knowledge sharing event Good Food and Biodiversity Forum on Thursday, chaired by Zhou Zunguo, chief representative of the China branch of Compassion in World Farming, Chinese experts shared their thoughts on China's practices and efforts made to drive sustainable food security and biodiversity policies.

A new report titled 'Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss' was released on Wednesday jointly by British think-tank Chatham House, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Compassion in World Farming, a UK-based group that campaigns for animal welfare. 

Focusing on the challenges from biodiversity loss and climate change, the report recommends three key steps to ensure the preservation of global biodiversity, raise awareness of the entire environment's dire circumstances and increase the feasibility of implementation. 

Specifically, the report suggests making changes to global dietary patterns, particularly moving toward a more plant-heavy diet, protection of land and for land to be set aside for nature, and the need for farming to be conducted in a more nature-friendly, biodiversity-supporting way. 

Also, in the World Bank's latest blog post, action is also urged to prevent the next food crisis. 

The blog posted on Tuesday warned that a toxic cocktail of climate change, conflict, and COVID-19 is manifesting itself most intensely in the world's poorest and most vulnerable countries. 

Xiao Shuzhen, associate professor at the School of Social Development and Public Policy under Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times on Friday that regarding policies for food security and sustainable development, China has been leading the trend. 

"In China, instead of a piecemeal, the agenda is more systematic, from food demand to food supply and from agriculture development to healthy lifestyles, China's policies are leading the trend," Xiao said. 

Jian Yi, Director of the Good Food Fund of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), told the Global Times that political will is very important in cutting down the carbon footprint. 

"The environment policy framework is designed for sustainable growth and it will need more action to transform people's dietary patterns. At the end of the day, people need to change their mindsets that their diets are not only private but also have much to do with the public," he noted. 

When it comes to food options, including artificial meat, Jian said that he believes there is huge potential among Chinese consumers and the issue in the food structure in China is more of overnutrition. 

"The traditional livestock and poultry industry have been there for years and they are reaching the roof, causing many health problems. Artificial foods such as meat acceptance among Chinese diners will be more popular as modern technology evolves further," Jian said.   

In terms of biodiversity protection, Wu Youdao, head of the Ecological Community Development Fund in CBCGDF, told the Global Times on Friday that the most urgent issues to resolve are climate change and the public health crisis, followed by biodiversity. 

Wu said that it is important to build ecological communities in both urban and rural areas. 

China has added another 517 species and classes of animals to its list of wildlife under special state protection, Xinhua reported on Friday. The move is based on changes in wild resources.

Wu hailed the adjustment, saying that this is another step forward for biodiversity protection. 

"Another approach to retain biodiversity is to keep the seeds for various foods among people," Wu stressed. 

When consumers embrace unique food products, the food producers will be more motivated to protect old seeds, Wu said. 

China will strive to tackle problems related to seeds and farmlands next year as part of its efforts to ensure food security. The country will strengthen the protection and utilization of germplasm resources and the construction of seed banks, according to a statement released on December 18, 2020, after the annual Central Economic Work Conference.

Efforts will be made for technological advances to break bottlenecks in seed provenance.

"The question of seed security was posed for the first time, China is definitely attaching importance to such work," Wu stressed. 

Dr Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, said that "people must understand that we cannot disassociate ourselves from the natural world. We're part of it and we depend on it, for clean air and water and everything else. So, we have to develop a new relationship with the natural world."

Goodall emphasized that, "it's very clear that we're facing an absolute crisis. We're reaching a point of no return if we don't take action today."


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