Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

Michael Appleby World Society for the Protection of Animals, United Kingdom
9-01-2013

These comments are from the World Society for Protection of Animals.

Theme 1: Key lessons from the current MDG relevant to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, and challenges towards achieving food and nutrition security in coming years.

A major factor in the failure to prevent hunger and to achieve food and nutrition security to date has been the lack of coordination and balance between animal and plant food production on a local, national and international scale. Access to small quantities of animal protein is important for the nutrition of malnourished people. However, too often livestock production has been increased and intensified inappropriately, producing meat and milk only affordable by people of higher income, undercutting small scale farmers, and using resources inefficiently compared to food crops. The challenge is in achieving governance – for example by appropriate economic, policy and institutional support – to readdress this balance.

Theme 2: How to address hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges, including drawing upon current initiatives.

To prevent hunger and to obtain food and nutrition security it is vital to achieve sustainability, which means the best balance possible between environmental, economic and social goals. Social goals include both proper food for all people – as emphasised in current initiatives such as the Zero Hunger Challenge – and proper care of livestock. As the FAO has identified, a billion of the world’s poorest people depend on animals for food, income, social status or cultural identification, as well as companionship and security. Furthermore, protection of farm animal welfare can identify benefits for environmental and economic, as well as social aspects of sustainability. The importance of protecting livestock and their environments was stressed by the Rio+20 outcome document:

111. We reaffirm the necessity to promote, enhance and support more sustainable agriculture, including crops [and] livestock ... We also recognize the need to maintain natural ecological processes that support food production systems.

112. We stress the need to enhance sustainable livestock production systems, including through improving pasture land … recognizing that the livelihoods of farmers including pastoralists and the health of livestock are intertwined.

The outcome document also made it clear that the Committee on World Food Security should play an important role in this respect by facilitating country-initiated, multi-stakeholder assessments on sustainable food production and food security. The urgency of an ecological approach was additionally underlined by another initiative, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development.

Theme 3: Zero Hunger Challenge objectives.

a. 100% access to adequate food all year round

This requires management of both production and consumption, including increased consumption of animal products in some countries (and sectors of the population within countries) and decreased consumption in others.

b. Zero stunted children less than 2 years old

This will be helped by access to some food from animals for malnourished children lacking micronutrients. Current practices including intensification of livestock production are often aimed more at supplying (and profiting from) high-income populations and have hindered rather than helped nutrition of poorer populations, both rural and urban.

c. All food systems are sustainable

As outlined above, this requires an appropriate balance between animal and plant food production, combined with proper care for livestock health and welfare.

d. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income

In some cases this needs economic support for smallholders, either direct (for example by providing advisory and support structures), or indirect (for example by protecting them from unfair competition from larger urban- or foreign-based companies). Means to effect such an increase could include the transfer of existing technologies from developed to developing countries, enhanced emphasis on developing high productivity technologies for smallholder use, and increased market access for smallholders. Furthermore, enhanced animal welfare will result in enhanced animal health and productivity.

e. Zero loss or waste of food.

Reduction of post-harvest waste is urgent. So too is reduction of inefficiency and waste in production processes. Such inefficiency and waste include feeding of poor-quality feed to livestock, and use of feed such as grain for animals that could instead be used directly for human food. Both practices often also cause problems for animal welfare.

Should some objectives be country-specific, or regional, rather than global?

Yes, it is important for more regions, countries and areas within countries to move towards food security and self-sufficiency. Areas vary in their suitability for different aspects of farming (including livestock vs. crops), but developing local food policies and supporting local producers is important for long-term security, stability and sustainability – including for socially acceptable, humane, sustainable livestock production.