AMA Prescribes Sustainable Food Chain

by | Jun 18, 2009

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amalogoThe American Medical Association (AMA) has approved a new policy that supports a healthy and sustainable food chain within healthcare systems at a recent AMA meeting in Chicago. AMA also plans to work with healthcare and public health organizations to educate their community and the public about the importance of healthy and ecologically sustainable food systems.

The AMA’s new Sustainable Food policy builds on a report from its Council on Science and Public Health, which indicates that locally produced and organic foods “reduce the use of fuel, decrease the need for packaging and resultant waste disposal, preserve farmland … [and] the related reduced fuel emissions contribute to cleaner air and in turn, lower the incidence of asthma attacks and other respiratory problems.”

The study also notes that industrial food production is a significant contributor to increased antibiotic resistance, climate change, and air and water pollution.

In addition to providing fresh, nutritious food choices, healthcare food services across the country are implementing new initiatives such as sourcing organic food and meat produced without the use of antibiotics, buying locally produced foods, and sponsoring farmers markets and food boxes for staff, according to the Healthcare Without Harm (HCWH) coalition.

More than 240 hospitals have signed the HCWH Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge, which promote sustainable food systems in their facilities. U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) has introduced a “Blueprint for Health,” legislation that calls for incentives to prevent chronic diseases, including investments in healthy and sustainable local and regional food systems.

Globally, U.N. delegates at a recent climate conference said a new focus on the impact of farming on climate change could reduce carbon emissions and drive efforts to boost yields and rural incomes in developing countries, reports Reuters.

Globally, agriculture accounts for about 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, although in some countries the figure is far higher, reports Reuters.

But there are tradeoffs, say backers, such as how to feed an extra 3 billion people by 2050 while encroaching less on forests, and new incentives to curb greenhouse gases from farms such as carbon offsetting may be inappropriate and must favor smallholders, reports Reuters.

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