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Policy recommendations for food security and a liveable future in the new policy brief

05 September 2022 - In order to secure the world's food security, plant-based nutrition should be supported and the production and consumption of animal-based products should be reduced - scientists propose.

Under the motto "Zukunft Pflanzen, Nahrung Sichern #Ährensache" (Planting the Future, Securing Food is a Matter of Honor), scientists propose in a new policy brief concrete political measures for sustainable global food security.

The global food system is in crisis. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has triggered a major increase in the food, fertilizer and fuel prices, leading to a decline in food security, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. At the same time, droughts and extreme weather events threaten harvests worldwide. Malnutrition and undernutrition increasingly coexist, costing many lives, as do the consequences of global environmental degradation.

Currently, the political discussion focuses primarily on changes that need to be made on the production side. However, a combination with adjustments on the consumption side is essential to reduce the burdens of producers and to jointly address the various crises. In particular, a significant reduction in the consumption and production of animal-based food is a key factor in making the global food system more resilient, fair and sustainable. The Policy Brief highlights the urgency of appropriate policy measures and makes three concrete proposals for implementation:

1. Establishment of a transformation fund for the conversion

This fund should in particular provide targeted support for farmers in their transition to greater production of healthy plant-based foods (especially legumes, fruits and vegetables) and the conversion of animal farming to higher animal welfare standards and lower numbers of animals. It is also intended to promote sustainable and healthy nutrition in out-of-house catering (e.g. in childcare centers, schools, hospitals and canteens).

2. Establishment of effective relief packages and incentive taxes

Due to high inflation, consumers should be given targeted relief in order to orient consumption towards a healthy and increasingly plant-based diet. In particular, the abolition of VAT on fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grain products is proposed in the near future. An animal welfare fee should also be introduced in the near future.

In the medium run, further incentive taxes are needed so that prices reflect not only direct production costs but also indirectly caused environmental damage. Incentive taxes should thus allow fair competition in which sustainably managed farms and products are not at a competitive disadvantage. As a first step, the introduction of a nitrogen surplus levy is recommended.

3. Establishing future-oriented institutions for the transformation of the food system

Policymakers should integrate the food system along the entire value chain in a comprehensive food system policy - i.e. a coherent agricultural, nutrition, health, environmental, economic and development policy - in order to minimize trade-offs, polarization and political stagnation. In particular, the permanent establishment of a Future Commission on Food and Agriculture and the expansion of the competence of the Scientific Advisory Board on Agricultural Policy, Food and Consumer Health Protection (WBAE) for the binding monitoring of the transformation process is recommended.

Weblink to the full policy brief (in German):https://zenodo.org/record/7038961#.YxWtBLTP23A