A variety of plant foods, especially unsaturated fats, and small amounts of animal foods, refined grains, ultra-processed foods and added sugars: this is no longer just the recipe of nutritionists to improve individual health, but also that of a panoply of researchers to ensure the survival of the planet. At the end of a three-year project, 37 experts in health, nutrition, sustainable development, food systems, economics and political governance, from 16 countries, proposed in a report published by the medical journal The Lancet and the EAT Foundation a "global planetary regime", to feed more than 10 billion people in 2050 while respecting the environment.
14 grams of red meat, 500 of fruits and vegetables
According to the recommended diet, about 35% of the 2,500 calories taken per day should consist of cereals and tubers, while 15% should come from proteins, preferably plant but also animal. World consumption of red meat is expected to decrease by 50% (to be capped at 14 grams per day), like that of sugar. On the other hand, the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and oilseeds should double: the diet includes 500 grams of daily fruits and vegetables.
The application of these global objectives should, however, take into account the situation in the various countries, the report states. For example, if North American countries are to divide their current consumption of red meat by 6.5, those in South Asia could still double it. The goal of the researchers is, above all, to establish common references based on the best available scientific data, which can then be broken down locally according to local economies and cultures.
Less premature deaths and pollution
Such a regime would in the first place prevent the premature death of about 11 million people a year, due to regimes that today are often too poor or too rich, depending on the latitude. It would improve the intake of unsaturated acids and micronutrients.
The "planetary regime" would also avoid the negative impact that the food system has on the planet today.
"Our definition of sustainable food production means that we do not use additional land, preserve existing biodiversity, reduce water use and manage it. responsible manner, substantially reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, produce zero carbon dioxide emissions, and not increase emissions of methane and nitrous oxide "explains Johan Rockström, co-director of the commission.
The study calculates that in order to feed 10 billion people in 2050, emissions of methane and nitrous oxide - the main greenhouse gas emissions due to agriculture - should remain close to those of 2010 (5.2 gigatonnes), namely between 4.7 and 5.4 gigatonnes.
"This suggests that the decarbonization of the global energy system needs to progress faster than expected to address the need to feed humans well without further damaging the planet," they conclude.
"Unprecedented global collaboration and commitment"
The new regime would, however, require a genuine "New world agricultural revolution", involving "Unprecedented global collaboration and commitment". It would first of all be based on policies that facilitate access to this healthier and more sustainable food, including financially. It would also require the establishment of strategies to favor the diversity of crop production at the expense of the intensive model.
The "revolution" would also imply a more equitable management of land and ocean use, including protection and restoration actions. Finally, the report discusses the need to reduce food waste: in low- and middle-income countries, by increasing investments in infrastructure and technologies to better preserve food, and in rich countries, by improving habits. consumption and logistics.
"The transformation the commission is demanding is neither superficial nor simple, and requires complex systems, incentives and regulations, with communities and governments at various levels having a role to play in redefining our food supply. "says Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet.
Professor Tim Lang - that The gallery has already interviewed -, agrees:
" Although major food system transformations took place in China, Brazil, Vietnam, and Finland in the 20th century, showing that diets can change rapidly, humanity has never sought to change the food system so radically , quickly or massively [que nous le proposons aujourd'hui]. "
"Our relationship with nature holds the answer"
However, he warns: "Any delay will increase the likelihood of not achieving critical health and climate goals." The good news is that the goals are "Achievable, and there are opportunities to adapt international, local and commercial policies", he tempers.
"Our relationship with nature holds the answer, and if we can eat in a way that works for our planet as well as for our body, the natural balance of the planet's resources will be restored. The very nature that now disappears holds the key to human and planetary survival, "adds Richard Horton.
According to the authors, the scientific objectives set out in the report must be the basis on which to drive change.