Food for thought: 91 per cent of people don’t realize our food system is the greatest threat to nature, WWF survey | WWF

Food for thought: 91 per cent of people don’t realize our food system is the greatest threat to nature, WWF survey

Posted on 16 October 2018    
A range of food products for sale at a supermarket - mainly cakes, bread, and other baked goods,
© © WWF / Richard Stonehouse
18-24 year olds found to have worrying disconnect between plate and planet
16 October 2018 –  91 per cent of people fail to recognize the way we eat, produce and waste food is the single biggest threat to our planet, according to new research released today on World Food Day by WWF. The food system is both the single biggest user of natural resources and the single biggest greenhouse gas emitter. It uses 34 per cent of our land and 69 per cent of our freshwater, and is the main cause of deforestation and other habitat loss, yet one third of all the food produced is never consumed. The food system is responsible for around a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, one third of which come from wasted food alone.
The survey found a worrying disconnect among youths – 11 per cent of 18-24 year olds do not consider the food system to pose any threat at all to nature, with a total of 40 per cent believing the threat to be less than significant. Only people aged over 55 have a greater lack of awareness of the issue.
“The good news is we can make the food system work for people and nature. If food is produced more sustainably, distributed fairly and consumed more responsibly, we can feed everyone without destroying more forests, rivers and oceans. We need to increase people’s awareness of where food comes from, and change our behaviours to ensure the proper functioning of our food system,” said João Campari, WWF Food Practice Leader.
The survey of 11,000 people was commissioned by WWF and carried out by YouGov in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Netherlands, South Africa, UK and US. These countries have been identified both as having their food security threatened by damages to nature and as contributing significantly to these damages through high-impact food production, consumption or waste.
“Last week, a landmark UN report highlighted the threats caused by and to the food system by climate change, and the short timeframe we have in which to act. While there is a lot of great work already being done to improve the food system, we must work across sectors at greater scale and with greater urgency.” continued Campari.
With many respondents acknowledging the food system impacts nature in some way, results found that 80 per cent feel more can be done to address the issue, with 66 per cent specifically wanting governments to take greater action and 60 per cent wanting businesses to up their efforts.
“By working together to realise Food 2.0, an evolved food system, we all have the power to bring food to the top of the conservation agenda and help protect our global food security,” continued Campari.
To work towards Food 2.0, WWF already has close to 100 food-related programmes running across the world in partnerships with governments, food producers, businesses and other non-governmental organisations and will be introducing several global programmes in the coming months. WWF is taking a full system approach to achieving transformative changes in food, focusing on three key areas: Sustainable Production, Sustainable Diets and Food Loss & Waste.
Notes to editor:
For more information please contact
Peter McFeely | WWF |
Key survey findings*
Thinking about how food is production and consumed… how much of a threat , if any, do you think it is on nature and our planet?  
  ALL 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
Not a threat at all 10% 11% 11% 10% 7% 10%
Not a significant threat 29% 29% 27% 28% 28% 31%
Total considering threat to be less than significant 39% 40% 38% 38% 35% 41%
A significant threat
52% 50% 50% 53% 57% 52%
The largest threat 9% 9% 12% 10% 8% 6%
For each of the following groups, please indicate if you think they are doing too much, too little or the right amount to ensure everyone has enough food, while preventing harm to nature and the planet from food production and consumption.
  Governments NGOs Businesses Food producers Consumers
Doing far too little 32% 12% 27% 18% 22%
Doing too little 34% 30% 33% 33% 37%
Doing the right amount
10% 19% 10% 16% 12%
Doing too much  9% 14% 11% 13% 11%
Doing far too much 5% 6% 7% 8% 7%
Don’t know 11% 19% 13% 12% 12%
*Percentage points rounded up/down versus true  numbers of respondents for ease of reference and visualisation
About WWF
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries and territories. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit for the latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media

A range of food products for sale at a supermarket - mainly cakes, bread, and other baked goods,
© © WWF / Richard Stonehouse Enlarge

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