• Reduce text

    Reduce text
  • Restore text size

    Restore text size
  • Increase the text

    Increase the text
  • Print

    Print

CONTEXT & VISION

By 2050, 70% of the world’s inhabitants will live in cities, which is creating significant and pressing challenges for the development of sustainable food production systems. As urbanisation and sprawl increase, questions are being raised regarding food supply chains. The spatial clustering of food production, processing, and distribution has major impacts on the environment, regional social and economic development, human health, and production conditions. However, new opportunities to develop more sustainable food production systems may arise as a result of cities exploiting “smart growth” and large quantities of data, made possible by advances in information and communication technologies.

Ensuring the health of food production systems is a priority, and indeed, France has adopted a “one health” policy. The different food production models all have both positive and negative effects on human nutrition, food safety in the production chain, and the environment.
Some of these effects have yet to be characterised; others are well described, but action is required to reduce chemical and biological risks, limit exposure, or improve nutritional safety. The whole production chain is involved: from farms to processing and distribution plants to consumer’s choices and nutrition. Different systems that explicitly and holistically address these concerns already exist. They include organic agriculture, the local food movement (with more or less help from online resources), direct contracts between groups of producers and consumers, and other integrative approaches focused on quality control.

Thought must also be given to how food is created and how food quality is determined. In the future, new production conditions will result in more variable and more diverse agricultural commodities. Several factors promise to improve current methods for processing, storing, and distributing food. These include more efficient energy and water use, waste reduction, and the repurposing of byproducts. Consumers will also play a role, as they come to cast a more critical eye on the quality of their food and how it is produced.
Finally, economic competition between different industries may also influence outcomes. Industrial methods will need to change in response to these new circumstances; at the same time, processes will become more cost-effective and will operate at different scales that allow greater adaptability. New regional and economic organisations may be created.