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Appetite for Change: Food system options for nitrogen, environment & health

Nitrogen pollution contributes to poor air quality, biodiversity loss and climate change.  A new report sets out a ‘recipe’ for halving nitrogen pollution from the European food system.  The Appetite for Change report, coordinated by the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH), says that up to 82% of the nitrogen used through our food system is wasted due to inefficiencies in fertiliser use, manure storage and wastewater treatment.

It lists the ways we can achieve the target reduction to bring benefits for the environment and human health.  These include:

  • halving average European meat and dairy consumption
  • more efficient fertiliser application and storage of manure
  • cutting food waste by retailers and consumers
  • better wastewater treatment to capture nitrogen from sewage, which reduce emissions and would enable recycled nutrients to be used on fields
  • financial incentives to support healthy, low-impact food

The report was prepared by the Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen of the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.  Journalists came to this briefing to hear from three of its authors.


Speakers included:

Prof Mark Sutton, co-chair of the UNECE Task Force, co-editor of the report and Environmental Physicist at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH)

Dr Adrian Leip, lead editor of the report and environmental scientist, formerly at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), currently at the European Commission, DG Research & Innovation.

Dr Susanna Kugelberg, co-editor of the report and public health nutrition expert, formerly technical consultant of the World Health Organization and currently at the Copenhagen Business School.

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