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The current food system has several sustainability challenges, and much of the recent debate — especially comparing traditional animal agriculture products to alternatives made from plants, fermentation or cells — oversimplifies both the problems and the solutions, a new report from IPES-Food found. There are no silver-bullet-style ways to solve the issues, despite the way that the alternative protein sector is often framed.
Changes are necessary to ensure the future of the planet and humanity, the report says. A narrow focus on alternative proteins misses the big picture, and policy reform should look both at what’s better for the environment and what consumers can and will adopt. Reforms need to start where they could do the most good — such as increasing biodiversity or access to better nutrition — and not necessarily cutting greenhouse gas emissions. And Big Food should not be allowed to set the agenda by dominating the current food system and deep investments into rising alternative protein companies, according to the report.
Sustainability is one of the bigger buzzwords in the food business now, with most companies releasing detailed plans about how they will reduce waste and pollution. Few companies address areas like biodiversity and equitable access to nutrition in these plans.