The goal of this report is to assess the current and short-term prospects for food and nutrition security in the Americas (North, Central and South America, together with the island states of the Caribbean). The Inter-American Network of Academies of Science (IANAS) approached this task by working with the academies of science in each country to commission country assessments. The result is a book-length report comprising assessments from 21 countries ranging from Canada in the north to Chile and Argentina in the south, together with one regional chapter covering many of the Caribbean islands (there are separate chapters for Cuba and the Dominican Republic). Some of the chapters are interspersed with boxes that highlight special issues such as gender aspects of food and nutrition security, technological opportunities, novel food sources and policy challenges. More than 200 experts contributed to the various country assessments and we are very grateful to our colleagues in the Americas for their patience and dedication to this important task. The resulting volume is entitled Challenges and Opportunities for Food and Nutrition Security in the Americas: A View from the Academies of Sciences and is available in English and Spanish on the IANAS website.
The present document is a summary and synthesis of key elements of the country assessments. We have tried to identify big picture issues common to the countries of our diverse hemisphere and we have also attempted to highlight special threats and opportunities. In general, we find that the Americas are very fortunate in having an abundance of natural resources together with ample productive capacity and a range of science-based advances in agricultural productivity. Although food insecurity still exists in the Americas, the last generation has seen substantial improvements in food availability and living standards. At the same time, new threats have arisen such the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, threats to essential water resources (especially groundwater resources), a slowing of the pace of technological advance owing to static public investment, and health related threats associated with foodborne diseases and poor nutrition reflected in the current obesity epidemic.
This project was commissioned by the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research through the Leopoldina (German National Academy of Sciences). It began with a meeting of representatives of the four regional academy networks in Halle, Germany, in June 2015 where the initial plans for the project were mapped out. This summary for the Americas is intended to complement the summaries for Europe, Asia and Africa.