Knowledge for better food systems

The Lancet Planetary Health inaugural edition editorial

Planetary health is a new approach that broadens health research to include the health of human civilisations and the natural (external) systems on which they depend. In a new journal, alongside The Lancet Public Health and The Lancet Global Health, The Lancet Planetary Health will explore the links between planetary and human health and how we can protect the environment on which we depend and develop sustainable systems that support human health. 

In the editorial of this first edition planetary health is described as a valuable new interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach aiming not only to investigate the effects of environmental change on human health, but also to study the political, economic, and social systems that govern those effects.

One of the commentaries that can be found in the current issue is written by Jessica Fanzo, Professor at John Hopkins University, and is titled ‘From big to small: the significance of smallholder farms in the global food system’. Here she discusses the findings of the paper Farming and the geography of nutrient production for human use: a transdisciplinary analysis which we have summarised.



Welcome to The Lancet Planetary Health, The Lancet Planetary Health, DOI:

Comment by Jessica Fanzo

Fanzo, J., (2017) From big to small: the significance of smallholder farms in the global food system, , The Lancet Planetary Health, DOI:

You can read the editorial here and Jessica Fanzo’s comment here (both open access).

You can review an infographic about this planetary health approach here.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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