The Chicago Consensus on Sustainable Food Systems Science
Researchers deliver an overview of the complex matrix involved in defining an achievable system and the evidenced needed to create it.
Participants at the Ecosystem Inception Meeting convened by the Global Dairy Platform (GDP) have generated a paper identifying concepts as central to the study of food systems science. Published in Frontiers in Nutrition, the paper calls for Food Systems Science to embrace and engage with all relevant allied disciplines that may include environmental health sciences, epidemiology, geography, history, sociology, anthropology, business, and political science. The document also builds on major advances in food system research, training, and practice, already achieved by individuals, institutions, foundations, and local and national governments.
According to the paper, the four principle domains of sustainable food systems science, health, economics, society, and environment present challenges for research due to their individual and yet non-standardized metrics and measures that require extensive data inputs at multiple levels. Existing research in these areas has so far produced only partial and fragmentary answers, unable to integrate agricultural production with nutritional status and health outcomes. Higher quality information is needed to improve understanding of sustainable food systems and the potential trade-offs.
Participants concluded that the way forward includes shared research methodologies to enable capacity building in foods systems research. New curricula and research infrastructures are needed, along with training to produce a new cadre of food systems professionals. Global research and training in food systems science would benefit from a set of competencies, more extensive research networks, and more public–private engagement.
GDP facilitated the international gathering of fifteen multi-disciplinary researchers from Europe and North America to provide an open forum for the exchange of ideas surrounding food systems science. The objective of the meeting was to deliver an overview of the complex matrix involved in defining an achievable system and the subsequent evidence needed to create it.