With an estimated global population of 9.7 billion people by 2050, according to the United Nations, the challenge of ensuring food security for this growing population takes on increasing significance. Given this demographic shift, comprehensive analyses are routinely performed to examine the causes and consequences of expanding production capacity and its associated environmental impacts. Additionally, the effects of climate change on food production capacity are the subject of ongoing discussions. However, the ultimate goal remains unchanged: ensuring sustainable food production for future generations.
However, only debating the quantity of food does not meet the multifaceted requirements of food security. In addition to having economic means to access an adequate food supply, one expects this food to be safe and nutritious, satisfying dietary needs for a productive and healthy life.
In a dynamic world, the challenges of ensuring global food security, maintaining food safety standards, and fighting climate change converge to form a complex puzzle. Brazilian farmers emerge as relevant actors in this intricate scenario, contributing to the broader achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Brazil currently produces enough food to feed more than 1 billion people. This remarkable accomplishment results of pioneering initiatives that have facilitated growth through increased productivity, advanced use of technology, and widespread adoption of low-carbon agricultural practices. These practices include no-till farming, integrated crop-livestock-forestry systems, biologically-based inputs, and crop rotation. These strides are closely linked to preserving 282 million hectares of native vegetation within rural properties, equivalent to 33.2% of the national territory.
Climate change adaptation and mitigation must be intrinsic to food security efforts. Brazil is adopting climate-compatible agricultural practices that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase the resilience of agricultural systems, thus improving food security. Producers—integrated with scientific and technical innovations, availability of essential inputs for production, and Brazil’s positive international reputation—position it prominently in regard to expanding food production on a global scale. With the highest net surplus (exports – imports) in the global food market, these efforts are important but may not be enough without a commitment to international cooperation with food security as a major goal.
Brazil has also undertaken quality control and regulatory measures to implement and enforce strict food safety standards, protecting consumers against foodborne diseases. Robust monitoring and surveillance systems are improving to better respond to food safety risks. Additionally, tracking systems are upgrading to trace the origin of food products, simplifying the identification and recall of potentially unsafe items. The country actively collaborates globally to ensure the quality of imported and exported food products.
However, specific elements of the broader picture have been considered in discussions about sustainability, food security, and food safety. At the heart of these debates are concerns related to technical trade barriers—often arising from disparate national standards and regulations—, which inadvertently obstruct the flow of food products across borders. While maintaining strict safety standards is crucial, adjusting these standards internationally is also essential. A science-based approach is needed to fully address food safety, food security, and the fight against climate change.
Therefore, ensuring the nourishment of future generations is a multifaceted challenge that requires a balanced approach. Striking the right balance involves navigating technical trade barriers, fostering international standards adjustment, and promoting sustainable agricultural practices. The solution goes beyond imposing regulations outside national borders to address deforestation and using a Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of pesticides as trade barriers. This complex endeavor is a collective responsibility, demanding unwavering commitment and true global collaboration from nations, industries, and consumers alike.
In this context, the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA), as a representative of Brazilian farmers, has spared no effort to bring science into discussions and ensure that international standards and requirements align with the country’s different production realities. They should not be just technical trade barriers but ensure quality for the end consumer and, above all, acknowledge the efforts of the country’s farmers to promote sustainable and high-quality production. Together, we must let Brazilian farmers feed the world responsibly and make food security more than just words, going beyond the interests of a few nations and persons. They are ready to do that.