Harms of Our Food Systems to The World

Harms of Our Food Systems to The World

Lots of organisms live harmoniously in the world. To continue their life, they have essential needs. For example, a plant needs air, light, water, nutrients. Some unicellular organisms need a body to meet their needs like food and shelter. Humans need water, air, food, and shelter to survive. All the organisms mentioned above have similar needs as can be seen, but they are distinguished by how they meet these needs. Have you ever thought that while we are trying to obtain our nutritional needs, which are the essential thing to live, we harm the world?


Food system is the term for using to refer all the process and infrastructure related to feeding people. Food systems, which bring the food from farms to your plate, involve stages that are growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming, and disposing of food and food-related items [7]. As food goes through these processes, the world is getting more and more damaged. Climate change is one of the environmental impacts of food production [3]. The largest driver of climate change has been the emission of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the food systems account for approximately 26% of global GHG emissions which is greater than that of transport [5][6]. Food production and consumption are responsible for emissions of CO2, CH4, and N2O, which are the major greenhouse gases. For instance, using fossil fuel in agriculture is one of the reasons for CO2 emission, and the fabrication and application of N-fertilizer are responsible for N2O emission [2]. The biggest contribution of GHG emissions from the food systems comes from livestock -like cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs- farming [3][5][6]. For example, the emission of methane (CH4) occurs in the digestive processes of ruminant livestock. While livestock accounts for 77% of global farming (including grasslands used for grazing and land used to produce animal feed), it only produces 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of total protein [6]. Deforestation of land used for animal husbandry, pastures, and other carbon "sinks" goes to plantations cause greenhouse gas emissions that are the emission of CO2 too [6]. These emissions caused by the factory farming intensifies climate change and puts natural world in danger.

 The second environmental effect is chemical fertilizers. Farmers use chemical fertilizers to protect the crops. They use one fertilizer called pesticide which is used to kill pests and insects that are harmful to the crop. Although pesticides are beneficial for the growth of crops, they also have a serious negative effect on the environment [4]. Pesticides can make soil, water, turf, and other vegetation dirty. Also, they can be toxic to a host of other organisms, including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants [4][1]. Therefore, if pesticides are overused, biodiversity may be lost.







[1] Aktar, M. W., Sengupta, D., & Chowdhury, A. (2009). Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: their benefits and hazards. Interdisciplinary toxicology, 2(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.2478/v10102-009-0001-7

[2] Carlsson-Kaynama A. (1998). Climate change and dietary choices — how can emissions of greenhouse gases from food consumption be reduced? Food Policy, 23(3-4), 277-293.


[3] Gonzalez A. D., Frostell B., Carlsson-Kaynama A. (2011). Protein efficiency per unit energy and per unit greenhouse gas emissions: Potential contribution of diet choices to climate change mitigation. Food Policy, 36(5), 562-570. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2011.07.003

[4] Mahmood I., Imadi S. R., Shazadi K., Gul A., Hakeem K.R. (2016) Effects of Pesticides on Environment. In: Hakeem K., Akhtar M., Abdullah S. (eds) Plant, Soil and Microbes. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-27455-3_13

[5] McMichael A. J., Powles J. W., Butler C. D., Uauy R. (2007). Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health, THE LANCET, 370(9594), 1253-1263. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61256-2

[6] Ritchie H. & Roser M., (2020). Environmental impacts of food production. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: 'https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food'

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_system#Effects_of_climate_change