Fighting food insecurity during a global pandemic

grocery
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

As the COVID-19 pandemic cripples food systems worldwide, governments must evolve and cooperate to heal the crisis, Johns Hopkins Professor Jessica Fanzo argues in a recent Nature op-ed.

Fanzo, who directs the Global Food Ethics and Policy Program at Johns Hopkins, lays out the harsh facts: An estimated 130 million more people faced acute in 2020, meaning they lacked access to affordable, . That's on top of the 135 million who already suffered from food insecurity before the pandemic hit.

COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our food systems, Fanzo writes—all the activities involved "in producing, processing, distributing, preparing, and consuming food, and the people who influence those activities." Farmers are more economically vulnerable, for example, and outbreaks have diminished the workforce at meat-processing plants. Border and port restrictions have increased food losses, especially perishables like meat and dairy.

With decreased incomes compounding such problems, a is now elusive to many, Fanzo says, and "the health of those who are already undernourished could decline further—particularly older, vulnerable, and marginalized people"—those who presently face higher risks for COVID-19.

She urges governments to support food-assistance programs and the United Nations' COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, which remains well short of its target funding. She also argues for a more holistic outlook toward food insecurity, identifying areas where human, environmental, and animal health collide. The COVID-19 pandemic, after all, most likely erupted from food system failure, with a zoonotic disease entering the through a market in China.

Fanzo writes: "Instead of the splintered responses to the COVID-19 crisis seen so far, involving political polarization and geopolitical competition, politicians must embrace global cooperation and inclusion. Governments should not face inward. They should double down on opportunities to reengage and collaborate on the interlinked challenges of climate change, malnutrition, and environmental collapse."


Explore further

Study finds rising rates of food insecurity among older adults

More information: Jessica Fanzo. Cooperate to prevent food-system failure, Nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038/d41586-020-03444-5
Journal information: Nature

Citation: Fighting food insecurity during a global pandemic (2021, January 7) retrieved 18 January 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-01-food-insecurity-global-pandemic.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
49 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments