Considering the health costs of food systems - new report underway on health externalities

(22.03.2016) IPES-Food is pleased to announce the launch of a new project to identify the health impacts of food systems.

The panel is now producing a scoping paper to review the evidence on the various impacts of food systems on human health. The paper, requested by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, will identify information gaps, areas of contestation, and asking how the emerging evidence is translated into policy.

Lead author Cecilia Rocha, a food policy expert at the School of Nutrition, Ryerson University (Toronto), said: “While the health impacts of food systems are being increasingly documented around the world, this evidence is often complex, contested, and sometimes even conflicting. This can undermine the advocacy efforts for action to reform food systems, so it is crucial to bring clarity to this debate.”

She added: “The health effects impacting those beyond direct producers and consumers – the health ‘externalities’ of food systems – are particularly difficult to assess, and yet it is these societal costs and benefits from different types of food production and consumption that may provide the clearest case for government action.”

The paper, due for completion in mid-2016, is intended to complement the work being undertaken to capture the true costs and benefits of food systems under the TEEBAgriFood project (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food).