A team of scientists has argued that a One Health approach to plant health is vital if we are to feed a sustainably growing population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050.
The researchers who posted a comment in CABI Agriculture and Bioscience magazine suggest that the One Health perspective can help optimize the net benefits of plant protection to realize greater gains for food security and nutrition.
One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize human, animal and ecosystem health. It recognizes that the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants and the environment as a whole are closely related and interdependent.
Dr. Vivian Hoffman, senior fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), is the lead author of the commentary, which focuses on two major trade-offs that lie at the boundary between plant health and animal health, ecosystems and the people.
Dr. Hoffman and the researchers say protecting plant health through agrochemical use versus minimizing risks to human health and antimicrobial and insecticide resistance is one consideration. Another, the scientists say, is ensuring food security by prioritizing crop health to maximize agricultural production versus protecting ecological systems.
The commentary, which emerged from a webinar hosted by CGIAR and attended by over 200 participants from around the world, discusses the challenges and opportunities for progress associated with each of these trade-offs – taking into account how stakeholder priorities and constraints may vary by gender
It emphasizes that building the capacity of regulators in low- and middle-income countries to conduct cost-benefit analysis has the potential to improve decision-making in the context of these and other multidimensional trade-offs.
The webinar included presentations on sustainable intensification, plant health benefits and human health risks of using manure and wastewater to fertilize food crops; Tanzania’s experience of managing ‘pesticide regulation’ of plant-related food safety hazards where regulatory capacity is weak and the role of gender in One Health.
Dr Hoffmann said: “Increasing yields through healthy plants is critical to achieving food security for a growing global population. But agricultural production also poses a threat to the environmental processes that underlie human health.”
The commentary, for example, highlights that agriculture contributes 34% of greenhouse gas emissions, consumes 84% of fresh water, and is the largest source of eutrophication, causing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in aquatic systems.
“Interventions to promote plant health practices that balance environmental concerns and food production will need to take into account farmers’ constraints, needs and motivations, including those mediated by gender,” added Dr. Hoffmann.
Webinar participants pointed out that farmers and other stakeholders with limited resources, and women in particular, may not have the luxury of prioritizing environmental sustainability.
Dr Hoffmann said: “This shows the need for external funding, perhaps through international green development funds or climate funds, to promote environmentally sustainable farming practices.”
The scientists also believe that the trade-offs are expected to depend critically on the intensity of exposure to environmental hazards, the state of food security and income levels – all of which vary across countries. There is therefore a need, they say, for context-specific analysis and as such, greater capacity for cost-benefit analysis in low-land and middle-income countries as a priority.
Farming and fertilizers: how green practices can make a difference
A health approach to plant health, CABI Agriculture and Bioscience (2022). DOI: 10.1186/s43170-022-00118-2
Provided by CABI
Quote: Scientists Say One Health Approach to Plant Health Vital to Achieving Sustainable Global Food Security (2022, September 28), Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022- 09-scientists-health-approach-vital-sustainable.html
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