Knowledge for better food systems

EU Science for Environment Policy brief addresses the role of diet and reduction in food waste

This EU brief looks at a recent study assessing the social environmental impacts of agricultural imports to EU from other, often less developed countries. The EU has thus picked up on an important study assessing Europen diets' contribution to excessive land-use in countries outside of the European Union. FCRN has previously highlighted this study (Balancing virtual land imports by a shift in the diet. Using a land balance approach to assess the sustainability of food consumption).

The conclusion drawn by the European Commission in this brief is that to achieve sustainable development, our consumption cannot exceed our resources and that reducing the amount of animal products in the diet and minimising food waste could enable the country to achieve a positive land balance.

Citing the researchers of the study the brief states “The researchers also examined the diets of different groups of the population, finding that changing the diets of younger and middle aged men would bring the greatest land-savings. In fact, the average diet of men requires approximately twice as much land as that of women.”

Citation of the original source:

Meier, T., Christen, O., Semler, E. et al. (2014). Balancing virtual land imports by a shift in the diet. Using a land balance approach to assess the sustainability of food consumption. Germany as an example. Appetite. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.11.006.

Read the full report here.

You can also find resources discussing land-use and ecosystems here.

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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