By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has warned that some farming practices can pollute water, air and soil.
According to UNEP, unsustainable agriculture is also a source of greenhouse gases, and destroys wide life.
“And to top it all off, some farming practices have been linked to the emergence of zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19 ( CoronaVirus disease), the international authority on the environment said.
The UN agency cautioned that eating ultra-processed foods may contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
UNEP noted that industrialized farming has been a reliable way to produce lots of food at a relatively low cost, but stressed that “it’s not the bargain it was once believed to be.”
“Unsustainable agriculture can pollute water, air and soil; is a source of greenhouse gases, and destroys wildlife. All told that costs economies about $3 trillion every year,” the UN agency elaborated.
It stated this in commemoration ofSustainable Gastronomy Day which was observed on 18th June 2021.
The event celebrated local cuisines that are produced in ways that are both environmentally-friendly and minimize waste.
“To mark the occasion, we take a closer look at how to make agriculture more sustainable and what that would mean for the economy, the environment and human health,” UNEP explained in a news release titled: “A Beginner’s Guide To Sustainable Farming.”
It said that the exact meaning of sustainable agriculture is “farming that meets the needs of existing and future generations, while also ensuring profitability, environmental health and social and economic equity.”
It pointed out that sustainable agriculture favours techniques that emulate nature–to preserve soil fertility, prevent water pollution and protect biodiversity.
“It is also a way to support the achievement of global objectives, like the Sustainable Development Goals and Zero Hunger,” UNEP clarified.
It illustrated how sustainable agriculture really makes a difference to the environment, saying: “Yes. It uses up to 56 per cent less energy per unit of crops produced, creates 64 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions per hectare and supports greater levels of biodiversity than conventional farming.
UNEP explained why sustainably produced food seem more expensive by emphasizing that itImay be more costly because it is more labour-intensive.
It declared: “It is often certified in a way that requires it to be separated from conventional foods during processing and transport. The costs associated with marketing and distribution of relatively small volumes of product are often comparatively high. And, sometimes, the supply of certain sustainably produced foods is limited.”
It also answered the puzzle of whysome foods are so much more affordable–even when they require processing and packaging by saying that the heavy use of chemicals, medicines and genetic modification allows some foods to be produced cheaply and in reliably high volumes, so the retail price tag may be lower.
“But this is deceiving because it does not reflect the costs of environmental damage or the price of healthcare that is required to treat diet-related diseases,” UNEP expantiated.
It highlighted that ultra-processed foods are often high in energy and low in nutrients and may contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer. “This is particularly concerning amid the COVID-19 pandemic; the disease is especially risky for those with pre-existing health problems,” UNEP said.