AUSTRALIA – Destructive agriculture practices are laying waste to precious ecosystems and failing to offer sustainable food solutions for a growing global population.

That’s the message internationally-renowned agricultural scientist, Dr Howard-Yana Shapiro, conveyed in his keynote at the Global Table food innovation conference taking place in Melbourne this week in partnership with Seeds&Chips.

“I’m not sure we have that much time any more,” said Dr Shapiro. The chief agricultural officer of food company Mars Incorporated. “We use so much land for agriculture but we are not even close to feeding the planet.”

He continued: “Food production is the biggest threat to our planet – 70% of the biodiversity loss, 70% of the fresh water use, 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions come directly from that. Eighty-five per cent of the marine stocks are exploited.” 

Dr Shapiro said climate change is running away from us and that responses commensurate with these challenges must be fast-tracked if humanity is to stand a chance of closing the gap. “Let’s breed plants that are more nutritious, that are higher-yielding, that are resilient to climate change, resistant to pests and disease and water and nutrient sufficient,” he added.

Moving to a more vegan and plant-based diet are steps we can all take to make a difference.