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The impact of environmental change on global food security and health

On Tuesday, 6th November, Professor Alan Dangour, a professor in Food and Nutrition for global health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, gave a talk discussing some of the most pressing questions concerning global health today.

He outlined that many of the global ‘big killers’, such as diabetes, are related to poor diet and that around 40% of the world’s population are either obese or malnourished. He also explained how unsustainable our diet and food supply is. Not only are we eating too much meat and dairy in our diets, but the production of meat and dairy is also the greatest source of carbon dioxide of all the food groups. Greater disruption of weather patterns as a result of climate change will likely threaten our food supply in the future.

However, not all was so pessimistic, for he did highlight some solutions, mainly involving shifting our priorities from food that’s cheap and tasty to food which is environmentally friendly and sustainable. In regions experiencing greater drought, GM crops that need less water can be grown instead. Farming techniques need to be reformed, perhaps with greater use of greenhouses or vertical farming. Some of the solutions presented were more challenging, such as substituting meat with insects – an idea for the catering staff at Emanuel to chew over!

The talk highlighted the importance of us being more considerate about the food we buy and consume, and we are very grateful to Professor Dangour for giving his time to talk to us.

Iona Pernthaller (upper sixth)