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UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

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Scientists Provide Recipe to Halve Pollution From Food Production

Nitrogen leaks from our food system are wreaking havoc on the environment and our health. A new UN report, Appetite for Change, proposes solutions to halve this pollution by 2030.
The problem: We're using way too much nitrogen—in fertilizers and animal waste—and up to 80% ends up polluting air, water, and soil. This harms ecosystems, contributes to climate change, and even makes us sick.
The solution: A multi-pronged approach that tackles the problem at multiple stages:
Eat less meat and dairy. Reducing consumption by half, or going "demitarian," would significantly cut nitrogen waste and improve human health.
Fertilize smarter. Farmers need to apply fertilizers more efficiently and store manure better to minimize losses.
Waste less food. Both retailers and consumers must reduce food waste, meaning less needs to be produced and nitrogen used.
Treat wastewater better. Improved sewage treatment can capture nitrogen for reuse as fertilizer, reducing emissions.
Support the shift towards plant-based diets. Financial incentives and public food options can encourage healthier, lower-impact eating.
Policy & collaboration. Governments, farmers, industries, and consumers need to work together to enact policies and implement changes throughout the food chain.
The benefits: Halving nitrogen waste by 2030 would benefit the environment and our health. It would also:
Reduce reliance on expensive fertilizers, especially relevant in today's volatile market.
Free up land for habitat restoration, aiding climate and biodiversity efforts.
Make our food system more resilient to future crises.
The report explores various scenarios, from moderate shifts to ambitious changes like complete plant-based diets. While the latter offers the highest environmental benefit, it might be challenging to implement. Striking a balance between achievable lifestyle changes and significant environmental impact is key.
Appetite for Change calls for a collective effort to transform our food system. Through smarter farming, responsible consumption, and effective waste management, we can nourish ourselves and the planet sustainably.

Do you agree?

143 more agrees trigger scaled up advertising

  • Abraham Jok Atem

    12 w

    Scientists are doing an incredible job in solving halve pollution from food production

    • Ann Nyambura

      15 w

      The recognition that reducing nitrogen waste can free up land for habitat restoration aligns with biodiversity and climate efforts.

      • George Kariuki

        15 w

        @ann_nyambura_542 Exactly, there's a lot of room left for more to be done.

      • walter lungayi

        15 w

        Reducing nitrogen pollution from food production is crucial for environmental and human health. The proposed solutions in the UN report are a step in the right direction for sustainable food systems.

        • Gorffly mokua

          15 w

          This offers practical and effective solutions towards halving this pollution.💚

          • Princess

            15 w

            It's promising to hear that scientists are working on solutions to halve pollution from food production

            • Gorffly mokua

              15 w

              @princess_nel_268 Food security is essential!💚

              • winnie nguru

                15 w

                @princess_nel_268 indeed. and we all know when scientists get to work, great things happen

              • Joseph Githinji

                15 w

                This are great ways to make our environment sustainable, happy that this are possible solutions that all of us can achieve. This policies should now be our daily routine in our food systems and eating habits.

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