In a study published by the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture and Navdanya International, a comprehensive analysis was presented on the current health crisis arising from the degradation of food production and marketing systems. The study, titled “Manifesto on Food for Health: Cultivating Biodiversity, Cultivating Health,” is divided into four main sections, each addressing a specific aspect of the food and health crisis. Here’s a detailed summary of the sections:
Preamble: Transforming Food Systems That Are Degrading The Planet And Our Health To Food Systems That Regenerate Health And Wellbeing
The study begins with a preamble that discusses the health crisis that arises from the degradation of food production and marketing systems. It highlights the harmful effects of the globalized industrial food system, which extends across generations through transmissible epigenetic effects, commercial conditioning of family diets, and the health impact of climate change. The preamble calls for a transition to a new paradigm, based on the realization of rights to health and food security, which will depend on the commitment of civil society, the private sector, governments, and global institutions.
Section 1: The Health Emergency: Noncommunicable Chronic Diseases
The first section of the study discusses the quality of food as an essential element to health, which is intrinsically linked to the quality of soil, air, water, and the environment. It highlights the pervasive presence of toxic substances in the environment due to various agro-chemicals and emissions, which has led to the progressive degradation of our habitat. The section also talks about the health burden from industrial agriculture and food processing, which degrades our diets and health by removing nutrition and health from the food system and by adding chemicals and contaminants across the food chain.
Section 2: One Planet One Health: The Emerging Systems of Science for Agriculture, Food, and Health
The second section of the study is expected to discuss the emerging systems of science for agriculture, food, and health. It might delve into the change of paradigm from a mechanistic and reductionist paradigm to an ecological and systemic paradigm. It might also discuss the key role of nutrition in gene-environmental interactions that determine health, and the importance of biodiversity from our farms, to our plates, to our gut microbiome.
Section 3: The True Costs of “Cheap” Industrial Food: Externalities, Subsidies, and Distorted Prices
The third section of the study is expected to discuss the true costs of “cheap” industrial food, including the economic costs of damage to health as a result of malnutrition, chemical substances, and chronic diseases. It might also discuss the high costs of “cheap” fake food and how reductionist economics works with reductionist science to hide the true cost of food. It might also delve into the unfair rules of “free trade” that impose the consumption of unhealthy food products, fueling dumping and damaging local economies.
Section 4: A Transition to Healthy Food Systems is a Social, Ecological, Economic & Democratic Imperative
The final section of the study is expected to discuss the transition to healthy food systems as a social, ecological, economic, and democratic imperative. It might discuss the principles for a transition to food and agriculture systems for health, the shift from chemical monocultures to organic food systems, and the shift from a linear, extractive system to a circular and solidarity economy. It might also discuss the shift from globalization to localization and provide a roadmap towards transformation.
The study concludes with a call for responsible citizenship, acknowledging the planetary dimensions of the challenge, and calling for a boundary-less vision of planetary citizenship. It recognizes that the new paradigm can only come into being through a felt reality of global community, a future-oriented project, and the rise of citizen pilgrims.