USDA report warns climate change may impede food security

Report outlines risks that climate change pose to global food security and challenges facing farmers and consumers.

Climate change is likely to impede progress on reducing undernourishment around the world in the decades ahead, according to a major scientific assessment released Dec. 2 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on global food security and its implications for the U.S.

The report, "Climate Change, Global Food Security & the U.S. Food System," identifies the risks that climate change poses to global food security and the challenges facing farmers and consumers in adapting to changing climate conditions. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the report during the COP-21 Paris Climate Conference.

In the absence of response measures, climate change is likely to diminish continued progress on global food security through production disruption that lead to constraints on local availability and price increases, interrupted transport conduits, and diminished food safety, among other causes. The risks are greatest for the global poor and in tropical regions.

President Obama has pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. U.S. agriculture is helping meet this goal, and American farmers, ranchers and foresters have demonstrated their leadership in recognition that their contributions send a strong message to the rest of the world, USDA said.

"The past six years have been a success story in terms of global food security. Two hundred million fewer people are food insecure today than they were six years ago. The challenge we now face is whether we can maintain and even accelerate this progress despite the threats from climate change," Vilsack said. "The report we are releasing today highlights these challenges and offers pathways to avoid the most damaging effects of climate change."

The report was prepared as part of the United States National Climate Assessment and part of the President's Climate Action Plan. USDA led the production of the report on behalf of the 13 federal agencies of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Thirty-one authors and contributors prepared the report, representing nineteen federal, academic, nongovernmental, and intergovernmental institutions in four countries.

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