How does food production and consumption affect the environment? Research has found that global food production is the single largest human pressure on Earth. More than 85% of water used by humanity is claimed by agriculture. It uses 40% of the Earth’s land area and is the primary driver of deforestation, habitat destruction and biodiversity loss. Food production is responsible for a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, equalling the contribution made by electricity generation and exceeding that of industry.

Learn more about population and consumption here.

See our latest news stories and blog posts about food below.

14 January 2021

Humanity headed towards ‘ghastly future’: Urgent warning from top scientists

An important new study warns that the world is failing to grasp the gravity of our environmental crises, and that without urgent action on the underlying causes, population and consumption growth, we face catastrophic mass extinction, climate disruption, and human suffering.

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Hand holding branch
18 December 2020

What COVID-19 has taught us about our relationship with nature

As 2020 draws to a close, humanity is reflecting on a particularly difficult year. The slow but sure roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination programmes presents a light at the end of the tunnel, yet new pandemics are just around the corner unless we confront our broken relationship with nature. Population Matters Senior Communications Officer, Olivia Nater, reviews the evidence.

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20 August 2020

Earth Overshoot Day: Five ways we can move the date

Every year, Earth Overshoot Day marks the day when humanity has consumed all the resources that the planet can produce over the entire year. This year it falls on 22 August. Global Footprint Network CEO Laurel Hanscom lays out five steps we must take to shrink humanity's ecological footprint.

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Person eating burger
27 July 2020

Eating the planet: what our diets and population growth mean for the environment

A new report reveals that global adoption of current food consumption patterns in G20 countries would ruin our chance of meeting climate and sustainability targets, exceeding our food carbon budget by almost three-fold and requiring up to seven Earths to support.

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Deforestation
13 March 2020

Population growth and environmental destruction fuel deadly diseases

Our growing population and resulting overexploitation of nature are facilitating the emergence and spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.

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Crops in South Africa
11 December 2019

Larger population, larger people: humanity will require 80% more food by 2100

A new study shows that increases in average human height and weight, alongside population growth, could cause global food demand to soar.

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Soil
25 October 2019

Organic agriculture could increase climate emissions without changes in population and diet

A new study shows that converting all farmland in England and Wales to organic agriculture could increase greenhouse gas emissions because meeting the food demands of the UK population would require using more land abroad.

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fruit and veg
24 July 2019

Despite economic growth, billions won’t have enough fruit and veg by 2050

A new Lancet study analysing the gap between future fruit and vegetable supply and recommended consumption levels found that even under the most optimistic socioeconomic growth scenarios, there won’t be enough to go around by mid-century.

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Oil palm
21 March 2019

Population and consumption causing extinction crisis and water shortage

The latest UN Global Resources Outlook report reveals that natural resource extraction and processing is responsible for 90% of water stress and biodiversity loss and is driven by the combination of rapid population and economic growth.

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How to feed the world without destroying it
7 December 2018

How to feed the world without destroying it

A new report investigates the enormous challenge of feeding our rapidly growing population without further damaging our environment and worsening climate change.

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