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Food security: one of a number of 'securities' we need for a full life: an Australian perspective

By Q. Farmar-Bowers

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Although agriculture in Australia is very productive, the current food supply systems in Australia fail to deliver healthy diets to all Australians and fail to protect the natural resources on which they depend. The operation of the food systems creates 'collateral damage' to the natural environment including biodiversity loss. In coming decades, Australia's food supply systems will be increasingly challenged by resource price inflation and climate change. Australia exports more than half of its current agricultural production. Government and business are aiming to substantially increase production to bolster exports. This will increase pressure on agricultural resources and exacerbate 'collateral' damage to the environment. The Australian public have a deep and ongoing interest in a very wide range of issues associated with the food systems including the environment, health and sustainability. Food is something we require in order to live and a good diet is something we have to have to be healthy. For health over a life-time we need food security. However, we also require a range of other material goods and social arrangements in order to develop and flourish as human beings. And we need these other things to be secure over a life-time. Food is therefore one security among a range of other securities we need in order to flourish. The paper outlines a number of approaches, as examples, that help to identify what these other goods and arrangements might be. The approaches mentioned in this paper include human rights, national securities, human needs, authentic happiness, capabilities, sustainability and environmental ethics. The different approaches provide a way of evaluating the current situation and indicating a direction for change within the food systems that will address the problems. However, changing large systems such as those involved in food supply is difficult because inertias and vested interests make the current food supply systems resilient to change. The paper suggests that one of the first and ongoing tasks is to develop an understanding of the situation from a comprehensive social-ecological systems perspective. The paper also suggests that a practical leverage point for system change is restructuring the flow of information on the health, natural resources and biodiversity loss issues related to the food supply systems.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 27
Issue 5
Pages 811-829
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
Publisher Springer
DOI 10.1007/s10806-014-9491-1
Language English
Author Address Deakin University, Geelong, VIC,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agriculture
  2. APEC countries
  3. Australasia
  4. Australia
  5. Climate
  6. Commonwealth of Nations
  7. Constraints
  8. Costs
  9. Countries
  10. Demand
  11. Developed countries
  12. Economics
  13. Ethics
  14. Exports
  15. Food economics
  16. Food policy
  17. Food science
  18. Food supply
  19. Health
  20. Human rights
  21. Humans
  22. Hygiene
  23. International trade
  24. Oceania
  25. OECD countries
  26. peer-reviewed
  27. Social psychology and social anthropology
  28. sustainability
  29. weather
  1. peer-reviewed