Global Food Security Index: Singapore claims top spot as US and UK drop to third place

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17 Oct 2018 --- The agriculture division of DowDuPont, Corteva Agriscience, and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) have released the 2018 Global Food Security Index (GFSI) findings which signal a shift toward more resilient food security measures. For the first time, Singapore claims the top spot in the 2018 GFSI ranking, partly because GDP per capita has risen nearly 30 percent since 2012, while the percentage of household expenditure that is spent on food is 6.9 percent.

In addition to the increase in GDP, Singapore also has the lowest agricultural import tariffs among all countries in the index.

The report, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, provides a common framework for understanding the root causes of food insecurity. GFSI ranking criteria is set by examining the dynamics of food systems and the effects of changing global environments. 

The GFSI is the first to examine food security through the lens of affordability, availability, and quality, across 113 countries, of which many have a Corteva Agriscience presence.

Lower-middle- and low-income countries experience the most substantial gains during the past year, according to the findings, signaling a shift toward more resilient food security measures. 

Improvements in agricultural infrastructure and increased capacity to feed growing populations are credited for improvements.

Environmental effects
In 2017, GFSI unveiled a new environmental category, recognizing the need for resource conservations, climate change adaptation, and sustainable agriculture practices. 

Using factors such as temperature change, land deforestation and water resource depletion, the Natural Resource & Resilience category is used to measure future environmental effects on the countries in the GFSI.

Applying the Resource & Resilience category to the 2018 GFSI, the average score of higher-income countries falls further than any other income group. However, these risks pose a threat for which all countries must prepare.

“The addition of the Resource & Resilience category provides global leaders another way to measure food security, as well as think about how our actions have long-reaching consequences regarding climate change,” says Jerry Flint, Global Initiatives & Sustainability Leader at Corteva Agriscience. 

“By keeping track of our exposure risk, agricultural leaders can better position themselves to weather the storm. Knowing how each of these risk factors works with each other, as well as independently, allows us to mitigate some risk and build a more resilient future.”

The GFSI concludes that global climate change is already adding uncertainty into the conditions of food production and distribution, creating new and unprecedented challenges. This uncharted territory makes anticipation difficult, resulting in the increased importance of resiliency in food systems.

It comes at a time when climate change is in the spotlight following stark warnings from the leading body of experts, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), last week. The IPCC study says that a rise of more than 1.5°C is risking the plant’s livability and this could be exceeded by 2030 unless drastic steps are taken now. 

This level of warning raises questions about how society can save the world from “climate catastrophe” and how opportunities remain open for consumers and corporations to work harder to fulfill the unprecedented nature of the changes that are required to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Other recent analysis also warned that dietary changes are needed to slow the impact of climate change, saying that meat consumption should be dramatically reduced in favor of plant-based diets. Considerable differences in farming are required to avoid the dangers of a warming planet and the challenges of feeding a growing population in a world with more drought, floods, and extreme heat. The in-depth analysis involving the University of Oxford and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany (among other researchers) assessed the food systems’ environmental impact, a significant driver of climate change.

And food security was also on the agenda yesterday (October 16) as Heads of State, ministers and high-level representatives from the private sector and civil society, marked World Food Day in Rome by starting a week-long Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Speakers urged for a greater awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. 

Rating changes
Despite the 2018 GFSI improvements in food availability and affordability, the overall food quality and safety score declined, due in part to reduced diet diversification and lower protein quality. 

The existence of national dietary guidelines, nutritional strategies and formal grocery sectors have improved. However, findings show countries can continue to do more to ensure the safety and health of food, particularly given risks of contamination along the global food supply chain.

For the second year in a row, the US GFSI rating dropped. Maintaining the top spot from 2012 and 2016, the US is now tied for third with the UK. The dip in ranking reflects a slower rate of improvement (85.0 in 2018) compared to its peers, not a decline in its total score (84.6 in 2017). 

The country’s political stability score has declined since 2016, hindering the food security advances it made between 2016 and 2018. The threat of trade barriers could push up food costs, further affecting the score.

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