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Good point for chickpeas, can do better on pesticides.

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The National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) today published its report "Updating the benchmarks of the National Nutrition and Health Plan (PNNS): revision of food consumption benchmarks". Seven associations [1] draw a mixed assessment of the report, despite the fact that responses to public health and environmental issues in France were expected.
 
The ANSES published today his report updating the nutritional benchmarks that will enable the Ministry of Health to define its public health policies. A version 4 of the National Nutrition and Health Plan (PNNS4) will be published on this basis [2].
The content of the ANSES report is crucial as it will guide the training of nutritionists, canteen menus, awareness-raising by social workers and early childhood services, etc. On the basis of these "benchmarks" our plate could evolve to better respond to the major public health issues facing society (prevalence of cancers, chronic diseases, obesity, etc.). The research data accumulated over several decades have highlighted the role of nutrition in its three dimensions (diet, physical activity and nutritional status) as a major determinant of health. Adequate intake of fruits and vegetables, foods high in complex carbohydrates or fibre, as well as limiting the intake of certain nutrients such as saturated fatty acids or simple carbohydrates, are often seen as protective factors associated with a reduction in certain chronic diseases.
But evolution is also necessary to respond to environmental challenges such as the climate crisis, environmental contamination (water, air, soil) and loss of biodiversity.
 
This work focused for the first time on developing consumption benchmarks for major food groups to meet the nutritional needs of the adult population, while integrating issues associated with the presence of certain chemical contaminants in the diet. 

Health and environmental issues: converging solutions

In order to address these issues, the seven organizations were keenly hoping that this report would encourage the consumption of food produced in a sustainable way to both reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture and preserve the health of the population. In addition, encouraging a reduction in the consumption of animal protein (meat, fish and dairy products) is essential to move towards a sustainable agriculture and food system.
On average, 10kg of vegetable protein is used to produce 1kg of animal protein. According to the APSARes, To obtain meat, you must first feed an animal: for example, it takes 13kg of cereals and 30kg of hay to produce 1kg of beef. As a result, the production of food of animal origin requires, on average, many more resources than the production of plant food. This waste of resources has serious consequences for the planet and contributes to global food insecurity.
As the World Watch Institute pointed out in its 2004 report, human appetite for animal flesh now threatens the future of the human species because of the multiple environmental damages it causes: deforestation, erosion, depletion of freshwater resources, air and water pollution, global warming, reduction of biodiversity, social injustice, development of diseases. Despite this, the amount of meat consumed per capita has more than doubled in the last fifty years, even though the world's population has increased sharply. In fact, global demand for meat has increased fivefold, and this upward trend is expected to continue in the coming years, exacerbating the pressure on the availability of food for a growing part of humanity, but also on the availability of land, water and fossil fuels, while at the same time accentuating the problem of global warming, pollution and waste.

 
Food is therefore one of the areas with the greatest environmental impact. According to the magazine e-RSE.netIn order to produce food on an industrial scale, land is needed, often using fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. You need machinery to harvest the crops, vehicles to transport the food, to store it. In total, it is estimated, for example, that the food sector (the whole chain) could account for up to a quarter of human greenhouse gas emissions. When we consume food products, we therefore have a responsibility towards the planet and the environment.            

A half-full plate... to be accompanied by a sustainable food policy

The work published today contains a notable advance: the classification of pulses (beans, chickpeas, lentils, split peas, etc.) in a separate category, accompanied by consumption recommendations for their high fibre and protein content. In addition, for the first time, the ANSES highlights the need to reduce meat consumption (excluding poultry) to 500 grams per week, and charcuterie to 25 grams per day, which is to be welcomed. As well as the need to limit the consumption of sweetened drinks. Finally, the Agency recalls the need to reduce the levels of certain food contaminants (inorganic arsenic, acrylamide, lead) and reiterates its recommendation to consumers to diversify their diet and sources of supply. On the other hand, no explicit link is made between sustainable production methods (and in particular organic farming) and health. The balance sheet is therefore mixed.
 
Beyond this report, we must insist that the next food recommendations of the Ministry of Health, in addition to the health issue, take into account the environmental issue as such, in coherence with the FAO definition of sustainable food [3]. An agriculture that is more respectful of the environment and the climate will indeed have positive impacts on the health of the greatest number of people: air pollution, greenhouse gases, water quality, etc.). Above all, without modifying its diet, France will be unable to achieve its national objectives of reducing greenhouse gas [4] and atmospheric pollutant emissions [5].
(Source: Climate Action Network France - Jan 2017)
 
Moreover, in the face of current demographic pressure (9 billion people in 2050 according to the UN), while nearly one billion people are already suffering from hunger, opting for sustainable food would make it possible to combat the problem of food insecurity while avoiding irreversible damage to the environment. The depletion of the planet's resources would trigger unprecedented conflicts and endanger the maintenance of life on earth.
 
There is little point in trying to solve current public health problems if we do not, above all, work to bring about a change in eating habits which, in addition to being responsible for the emergence of diseases for some, only deepen inequalities in access to food resources and, more generally, threaten the survival of the human species in the medium term.
 

 

TO READ: the comic book " Planetman's coming to the table." by Climate Action Network, written by Simon Coquillard - Script and drawings: Baptiste Ribrault 

 
1] The Climate Action Network, Solagro, Greenpeace, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, WWF, Générations Futures and France Nature Environnement.
2] For the record, this included the "5 fruits and vegetables a day" and "Eating on the move is good for your health" communication campaigns, www.mangerbouger.fr/PNNS.
3] "Sustainable food is food systems with low environmental impacts that contribute to food and nutrition security for present and future generations. Sustainable foods are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically equitable and affordable. They are nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy, while optimizing natural and human resources", FAO, 2010.
4] The Energy Transition Act of 2015 sets a target of dividing greenhouse gas emissions by 4 by 2050 (factor 4) and the roadmap to reach this target (National Low Carbon Strategy, 2015) sets a sub-target of dividing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 2 (agricultural factor 2). The National Low-Carbon Strategy is binding on the PNNS, which will have to take into account, in particular, the reduction in the consumption of animal products.
5] The NEC Directive imposes emission thresholds for each member state. Among the pollutants taken into account by this directive is ammonia, emitted at 98% by agriculture.
                      

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