Webinar Green Rio: Food Supply Chain and Planetary Health Challenges 

The webinar “FOOD CHAIN AND PLANETARY HEALTH CHALLENGES” was a 2021 Planetary Health Annual Meeting and Festival side event.

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Below you can find the webinar presentations and the summary.

Palestrantes / Speakers 

Rafael Zafala, FAO
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Maritta Koch-Weser, Amazon Business School Online
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Lise Walbom, Food Nation / Denmark
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Sibelle Silva, Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento
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Maria Beatriz Martins Costa, Green Rio
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A food supply chain or food system refers to the processes that include production, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal. The Green Rio Webinar “Food Supply Chain Challenges”, is a 2021 Planetary Health Week side event, and addressed the challenges faced by biodiversity in the food supply chain, along with traceability and consumer awareness.

The webinar began with Maria Beatriz Costa, CEO of Green Rio, mentioning that it is very important to have the engagement of young people for a transformation in the habits of food consumption to occur and that school meals can contribute to reducing the consumption of fats and sugars and increasing the consumption of fruits, vegetables and fiber, as seen in the Healthy School Food Project conducted in 2015 – 2016. In Brazil about 41 million school meals are produced per day and for some children it is the only meal they receive during the day.

Maria Beatriz emphasized how proud Brazil is to have Resolution 38/2009 – FNDE, which Brazilians know little about, that states in its article 20 that products from family agriculture and rural family businesses to be supplied for school meals, will prioritize, whenever possible, organic and/or agroecological foods, and also the food guide for the Brazilian population (official document from the Ministry of Health), which is an international reference and presents information and recommendations on proper and healthy food. Brazil has a food bank, the SESC/Mesa Brasil, which is the most important in Latin America and operates in various municipalities in all states of Brazil against hunger, food waste food and nutritional security program.

Rafael Zafala, from FAO Brazil, mentioned that one of the most important lessons learned from the pandemic is that our behaviors and food systems need to change to make them healthier, and the biggest challenge is in the school feeding program. He also pointed out that it is important that all actions are aligned with the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially poverty reduction.

Rafael said that a healthy diet is 5 times more expensive than an energy-sufficient (calorie) diet and 60% more expensive than a nutrient-sufficient diet, and that this situation has worsened with the pandemic.
On the other hand, it is not only consumption that needs to change, but agrifood production also has to be more eco-efficient in order to avoid food waste, high consumption of water resources, and the excessive use of carbon that can consequently lead to the disappearance of ecosystems.

Rafael further commented that agrifood systems are the largest economic system in the world and are measured in terms of employment, livelihoods, and planetary impact. While 60% of the entire agrifood system is related to primary production, food processing, and food services, more than 80% of the extremely poor live in rural areas, and of these, 70% live off agrifood systems; consequently, it is clear that where there is food production, poverty exists, and this reality needs to be changed.

Maritta Kocher – Weser focused on consumer issues and responsible consumption, as well as the opportunities that can be realized by everyone to improve the planetary situation and show that we need to be more just, equitable and reduce hunger in accordance with the goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to Maritta, consumers can be helpful in preserving biodiversity, intellectual property rights for biofoods, bees and pollination, and in using the deforestation-free product chain. In addition, she commented that it is important to be aware of eating healthy foods free of pesticides and herbicides, free of the excessive use of antibiotics in the production of meat, poultry and fish, as well as drinking water free of chemical residues, and be aware of food waste, the improper disposal of plastic waste and the excessive use of natural resources in production.

Another important issue pointed out in her presentation was the electronic tracking of value chains (farm to fork) and the need to be more careful with labels and seals to avoid greenwashing. In addition, there is a necessity to increase investments in research, development and innovation and in modern technologies to avoid damaging the environment, besides expanding the training in sustainable production for farmers, mentioned as an example the Rainforest Social Business School in the state of Amazonas.

The presentation by Sibelle Silva from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply was focused on the presentation of the projects, strategies, and actions developed at MAPA.

She presented the Guide The Future of Food and Agriculture – Trends and Challenges and highlighted the importance of the National School Feeding Program, mentioned by Maria Beatriz, in Brazilian national education and which is benchmarking for other developing countries. In addition, she commented about the great effort to combat micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries and how the focus is on the supply of vitamins and mineral supplements to combat malnutrition. Sibelle also commented on the importance of innovation projects in the improvement of sustainable agriculture and also food security.

During the presentation, Sibelle presented Agro-biodigital and its aims related to the development of public policies, bioeconomy, innovative and sustainable technologies; the actions related to open innovations with start ups; the ABC and ABC+ programs that provide support to producers to make them more sustainable; the CNN labels – Carbon Neutral Beef and Soybeans and the Bioinsumption Program.

The last lecture was presented by Lise Walbon, who showed an overview of how Denmark has become a global leader in food production and consumption, and explained the work of the Food Nation, a private, non-profit, public institution that promotes the competence of food clusters.

She emphasized that agriculture and the food industry have a vital role to play in achieving the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the population needs to change its behavior so there is a responsibility in consumption and, consequently, in the reduction of losses and waste, as well as producers need to be more responsible in production regarding the use of natural resources, the emission of pollutants, and the increased implementation of sustainable production practices.

According to Lise, Danish research has shown that it is possible to produce more with lower inputs and have economic and environmental benefits, such as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen and phosphorus surpluses, and ammonia losses. However, all the results showed that it is essential to have collaboration of all stakeholders and orientation of the consumer regarding conscious consumption and the importance of adopting a healthy diet with more vegetables, fruits, and others.



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