Lukoye Atwoli and colleagues deliver a compelling call to address interacting global crises and to improve equity. Crucially, they link biodiversity loss with health and clearly warn that the Earth system is now too close to multiple tipping points, beyond which lie “catastrophic, runaway environmental change”. However, we think there is a risk that the part of Atwoli and colleagues’ Comment concerned with future food security could give rise to pessimism.
Irrespective of whether crop yield potentials are actually declining, food insecurity is deepening as a result of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result of persisting unequal distribution of food and other forms of wealth and human rights. Scientists increasingly warn of synchronous or consecutive crop failures in multiple regions that produce large quantities of wheat and other food staples.
Without transformational reform in global thinking, such a scenario is likely to exacerbate inequitable food aid, mirroring the world’s self-defeating and unfair COVAX roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines. Alleviative strategies not mentioned by Atwoli and colleagues include markedly reducing the current diversion of crops for use as animal feed and fuel, such as soy (more than 90%), maize, sugar cane, and palm oil.