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Agriculture designed to make best use of landscape and to be maximally sustainable would also provide food of the highest nutritional and gastronomic standards, and would inevitably employ a great many people. Thus it would solve the world's food problems, and its principal social problem, at a stroke. But agriculture in practice is designed for a quite different purpose – to generate wealth, in the cause of ‘economic growth’. The pressing need is not for more science and technology, but to recognise the true cause of the problems and to re-think priorities.
We could all be well fed. Indeed, everyone in the world who is ever likely to be born could be fed to the highest standards of gastronomy as well as of nutrition until humanity itself comes to an end. We already have most of the necessary technique – perhaps all that is needed. We could always do with more excellent science but we need not depend, as we are often told from on high, on the next technological fix. The methods that can provide excellent food would also create a beautiful environment, with plenty of scope for other creatures, and agreeable and stable agrarian economies with satisfying jobs for all.
In reality, in absolute contrast, we have created a world in which almost a billion are chronically undernourished; another billion are horribly overnourished, so that obesity and diabetes are epidemic, and rising; a billion live on less than two dollars a day; and a billion live in urban slums – a figure set to increase and probably at least to double over the next half century; while other species are disappearing so fast that biologists speak of mass extinction.
To specify the principles, definition and dimensions of the new nutrition science.
To identify nutrition, with its application in food and nutrition policy, as a science with great width and breadth of vision and scope, in order that it can fully contribute to the preservation, maintenance, development and sustenance of life on Earth.
A brief overview shows that current conventional nutrition is defined as a biological science, although its governing and guiding principles are implicit only, and no generally agreed definition is evident. Following are agreements on the principles, definition and dimensions of the new nutrition science, made by the authors as participants at a workshop on this theme held on 5–8 April 2005 at the Schloss Rauischholzhausen, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany.
Nutrition science as here specified will retain its current [classical] identity as a biological science, within a broader and integrated conceptual framework, and will also be confirmed as a social and environmental science. As such it will be concerned with personal and population health, and with planetary health – the welfare and future of the whole physical and living world of which humans are a part.
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