Global land use implications of dietary trends
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Global food security and agricultural land management represent two urgent and intimately related challenges that humans must face. We quantify the changes in the global agricultural land footprint if the world were to adhere to the dietary guidelines put forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), while accounting for the land use change incurred by import/export required to meet those guidelines. We analyze data at country, continental, and global levels. USDA guidelines are viewed as an improvement on the current land-intensive diet of the average American, but despite this our results show that global adherence to the guidelines would require 1 gigahectare of additional land—roughly the size of Canada—under current agricultural practice. The results also show a strong divide between Eastern and Western hemispheres, with many Western hemisphere countries showing net land sparing under a USDA guideline diet, while many Eastern hemisphere countries show net land use increase under a USDA guideline diet. We conclude that national dietary guidelines should be developed using not just health but also global land use and equity as criteria. Because global lands are a limited resource, national dietary guidelines also need to be coordinated internationally, in much the same way greenhouse gas emissions are increasingly coordinated.
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Sarah Rizvi, Chris Pagnutti, Evan Fraser, Chris T. Bauch, Madhur Anand (2018). Global land use implications of dietary trends. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/13556
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