Seminar - Climate change and food security: Health impacts in developed countries
Anthropogenic climate change will affect global food production with, to date, poorly specified consequences for human health in developed countries. The aim of this work was to investigate the impact that climate change may have upon food security (nutrition and food safety) and the implications for human health in developed countries. Expert input and structured literature searches were conducted. These were synthesised to produce overall assessments on likely impacts, and recommendations on future research and policy changes to manage any adverse impacts. Important impacts were identified. Increasing food prices may lower the nutritional quality of dietary intakes, exacerbate obesity and amplify health inequalities. Food will be produced under different climates altering its nutritional and food safety characteristics. Elevated use of irrigation water may compromise food safety and lead to pathogen emergence.
Climate change mitigation may increase consumption of foods whose production releases lower amounts of greenhouse gases. Positive impacts of this include reduced red meat consumption, but conversely it could lower the consumption of fruit and vegetables in the winter. Developed countries have complex structures in place to protect food safety. Their ability to respond to nutritional challenges is less certain. Climate change will have notable impacts upon food security in developed countries. Further research is necessary to reduce the uncertainty in quantifying these. This uncertainty, coupled with evidence that climate change may lead to more variable food quality, emphasises the need to maintain and strengthen existing structures and policies to regulate food production, monitor food quality and safety and respond to nutritional or safety issues that arise.
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