Emile Frison / Panel member

International Panel of Experts on sustainable food systems (IPES-Food) / Agricultural sciences

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A liveable planet for our children
I am preoccupied by the alarming evolution of our food systems. The industrial model of agriculture (based on large scale monocultures of a few crops, the intensive use of fertilizers, pesticides and antibiotics, and industrial feedlot systems), promoted by science since the 1960s and dominated by large agri-business corporations threatens our health and environment. It is the largest driver of biodiversity loss, is responsible for 25% of GHG emissions and large-scale water, air and soil pollution. It is serving a food industry focussed on producing energy rich, but nutrient poor, highly processed food that undermines our health.
As consumers, we live in food environments that encourage the over-consumption of unhealthy foods, and that have broken the links between producers and consumers. The health sector remains focused on treating the damage caused by the non-communicable diseases and obesity that result from today’s food systems rather than addressing the root causes.
At a personal level, I have made significant changes in my food habits, buying organic food, reducing meat consumption, eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, reducing garbage and recycling.
On a professional level, I am devoting my energy to foster the transformation towards healthy, sustainable food systems. With the support of the Daniel and Nina Carasso foundation, I created the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). IPES-Food is supporting advocacy efforts to raise sustainable food systems onto the agenda of decision makers by developing scientific argumentation and actively engaging in processes to foster the necessary transformation.
It is urgent to transform our agriculture into diversified agroecological systems that produce healthy, diverse food in a sustainable manner and that reduce GHG emissions. We should rebuild closer links and trust between farmers and consumers and ensure a decent income to farmers that produce healthy food sustainably.
Comprehensive multisectoral food policies must be developed to provide a supportive policy environment to the necessary transformation. Public investments must be directed to producing public goods that benefit society at large, instead of subsidizing large corporations.
But above all, we must raise up to the challenge ourselves. The recent mobilization of youth in favour of climate action is very encouraging, but we must all do our bit. In May, we can vote for parties that are serious about climate action, but every day, we can vote with our wallet, choosing what we eat.