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    Food as a commodity, human right or common good

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    The European Commission’s recently published ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy seeks to facilitate a transition towards a sustainable food system. The strategy moves from a linear understanding of the food system towards a more circular view of the system’s complex interdependencies. Despite these laudable intentions, it does not follow the guidance of the EU’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors that the path to a more sustainable food system requires ‘moving from food as a commodity to food as more of a common good’. Drawing on our recent experience as authors of an Evidence Review Report on the European food system, we discuss how different framings of food shape the development of food policy, using the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy as a key example

    A sustainable food system for the European Union

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    Food systems have complex social, economic and ecological components, and radical transformation is needed to make them sustainable. This report from SAPEA lays out the science on how that transition can happen in an inclusive, just and timely way. What the report says The global demand for food will increase in the future. To meet this demand, it is not enough simply to increase productivity in a sustainable way. We also need to change from linear mass consumption to a more circular economy — which will mean changing our norms, habits and routines. The evidence shows that this kind of behaviour change needs to happen collectively, not just individually. So we need joined-up governance at local, national and international levels. Food systems also contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. This can be addressed by reducing waste or directing it back into the supply chain. A mix of different measures will be most effective. The evidence shows that taxation is one of the most effective ways to modify behaviour. Accreditation and labelling schemes can also have an impact. Meanwhile, reform of European agriculture and fisheries policies offer great opportunities to develop resilience and sustainability. But there is not yet enough evidence to know for sure exactly what works in practice, so the steps we take should be carefully evaluated, and trade-offs anticipated.status: publishe