An independent taskforce of British and American scientists has called for co-ordinated action around the world to help deal with the severe food production shocks it predicts are likely to occur in the not-too-distant future.
The taskforce made its call in the newly-published The Extreme Weather and Resilience of the Global Food System report – produced and commissioned by the UK Science and Innovation Network and Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Researchers analysed past events and concluded that the risk of a one-in-100 year production shock is likely to increase to one in 30 or more by around 2040. From 2070 onward, they estimate that severe shocks, in which global food production drops by 10 per cent, could be happening in seven out of ten years.
James Hutton Institute’s Dr Mike Rivington, a member of the report's taskforce, said: "These shocks have short-term impacts beyond food price rises, such as export restrictions and nations keeping larger reserves leading to shortages elsewhere risking civil unrest and reduced political and economic stability."
The report points out that the impacts of the food production shocks are also most likely to be felt across Africa and the Middle East.
It therefore highlights the need for agriculture to adapt to changes in climate and to diversify in the face of extreme weather, while at the same time increasing productivity in the face of increasing global demand for food.
It adds that there is a need to develop risk reduction strategies and contingency plans, and to invest in building food system resilience to reduce the impacts on people.
To access the report visit http://www.csap.cam.ac.uk/projects/climate-change-risk-assessment/.