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This content is taken from the University of Exeter's online course, Future Food: Sustainable Food Systems for the 21st Century. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds Hi. My name is Dr. Dan Bebber. And over the next four weeks, my colleagues and I will guide you through some of the huge challenges we face in feeding the growing population healthily and sustainably. Sharing a meal with friends and family is one of the greatest pleasures life can offer. But it’s become increasingly clear that the way we produce, process, trade, and consume our food is having serious consequences for our health, society, and environment. The list of dangers we face is long. Globally, some 700 million people remain undernourished, while more than 2 billion of us are overweight and suffering from avoidable health problems. And though many people cannot afford a healthy diet, globally around 1/4 of food is thrown away.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds Farmers fight continuous battles against virulent pests and diseases of crops and livestock, and face the growing threat of climate change in the form of extreme weather and poor harvests. Intensive agriculture has polluted rivers and oceans, emptied aquifers, eroded and reduced soil fertility, destroyed ecosystems, and reduced biodiversity. Overfishing has brought many species of fish to the brink of extinction. Meanwhile, the global population continues to expand, the consumption of unhealthy and resource-intensive foods grows, and the threat from climate change rises. People around the world are eating increasingly similar diets. And some argue we risk losing the cultural identities that societies have built around food.

Skip to 1 minute and 45 seconds We rely on international trade for much of our food, which makes us vulnerable to shifts in government policies and shocks to the economy. Experts agree that the food system, the interconnected processes that lead from a planted seed to a meal on the table, requires a revolution to avoid disaster in the near future. But all is not lost. Researchers, policymakers, businesses, communities, producers, and consumers around the world are working on ways to make our food system healthier, and fairer, and more sustainable. You will hear from Exeter University experts on the current state of the food system and the ways we can make it better. To find out more about the contributors, see the biographies which follow this film.

Skip to 2 minutes and 28 seconds You will have the chance to analyze the issues and debate the possible solutions with fellow students. In the first week we’ll consider the effects of changing diets on health, and making the switch to a healthier diet. In week two we’ll learn about how production of agricultural crops, livestock, and fish is affecting the environment. In week three we’ll tackle three major threats to food production– climate change, the loss of soils, and destructive pests. In week four we’ll investigate the economics and politics of the food system, and the roles of farmers, agri businesses, and governments. I hope you enjoy the course. Help us to rethink food systems for the 21st century.

Welcome and course overview

In this video, Dr Dan Bebber introduces this four-week-long course and what the biggest challenges are that global food production systems face today.

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This video is from the free online course:

Future Food: Sustainable Food Systems for the 21st Century

University of Exeter

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