Our food systems are in crisis, and it's not just from climate change

Originally published as an Op-Ed in Scientific American on World Food Day. 

While global leaders gathered in New York City last month to discuss the climate crisis, it is possible that we are missing the bigger picture. It is not only a climate crisis that we have on our hands; it is a full-blown planetary emergency, and agriculture is both a source and a potential solution.

In the last year alone, African swine fever has left over five million pigs dead, fires have blazed across the Amazon to clear land for farming, devastating landslides have been triggered by intensive vegetable farming in the mountainous areas of India, and dead zones in waterways have continued to expand due in part to agricultural runoffs. Let us not forget the dangerous declines in biodiversity driven largely by agriculture, as reported in a landmark intergovernmental report this year.

These are happening in addition to and not just as a cause of climate change and yet will most certainly make the impacts of climate change far worse. 

Read more about WLE Program Director Izabella Koziell's call for a radical transformation of food production, and the launch of a major global Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification.