Throughout the world, development driven by population growth is encroaching on natural habitats. In the United States, 95-98% of our forests have been logged at least once (Worldwatch Institute). Keeping natural habitat intact is important for preserving ecosystems that support the biological diversity of plants and animals. Large, intact natural habitat is also a great defense against global warming because vegetation absorbs the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
Nature also provides an important connection to human livelihood—food! For our entire history, people have been harvesting food from nature. Globalization and new technologies have made it possible to produce food on a massive scale and transport it throughout the world. Though developed countries have easy access to food, many developing countries have massive food shortages. In recent years transporting food globally has become an expensive process due to increasing oil prices and transportation costs. Also, after decades of shipping food around the world, many people have lost their personal connection to the food they eat and the environment from which it comes. There exists an opportunity now to rebuild individuals’ personal connection to food and nature, by re-localizing food resources. Below are agencies and organizations working on national and international issues related to nature and food. Explore the links to learn more about these and other related issues.
The Food and Drug Administration touches the lives of virtually every American every day. It is the FDA's job to see that the food we eat is safe and wholesome, the cosmetics we use won't hurt us, the medicines and medical devices we use are safe and effective, and that radiation-emitting products such as microwave ovens won't do us harm. First and foremost, FDA is a public health agency, charged with protecting American consumers by enforcing the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and several related public health laws.
FDA Food Protection Plan
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration presents a strategy to protect the nation's food supply from both unintentional and deliberate attack.
www.foodsafety.gov Gateway to government food safety information.
US EPA Food Safety website
Although the Food and Drug Administration regulates most aspects of food production and consumption in the United States, the EPA is responsible for regulating the use of pesticides on food. If improperly used, pesticides can cause serious health problems, including birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and unique health risks to children. The EPA, in cooperation with the states, carefully regulates pesticides to ensure that their use does not compromise food safety. In particular, the Federal pesticide program is designed to ensure that pesticides can be used without posing harm to the most vulnerable members of society, children and infants.
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) works to improve foreign market access for U.S. products, build new markets, improve the competitive position of U.S. agriculture in the global marketplace, and provide food aid and technical assistance to foreign countries.
USDA Report: Global Agricultural Supply and Demand: Factors Contributing to the Recent Increase in Food Commodity Prices
Information about the United States and World Food Security, including the 2002 World Food Summit.
UN Millennium Development Goals
One of the eight major United Nations Millennium Goals is to “Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.” Three specific objectives are included under this goal: 1) Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day; 2) Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people; 3)Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
Another goal is to “Ensure environmental sustainability.” Four specific objectives are included under this goal: 1) Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs; reverse loss of environmental resources; 2) Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss; 3) Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation; 4) Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
The Center for Global Food Issues staff conducts research and analysis of agriculture and the environmental concerns surrounding food and fiber production. The Center uses its worldwide overview of food and farming to assess policies, improve farmers’ understanding of the new globalized farm economy, and heighten awareness of the environmental impacts of various farming systems and food policies.
Sustainable Table celebrate the sustainable food movement, educates consumers on food-related issues and works to build community through food.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
With the support of our members and online activists, NRDC works to solve the most pressing environmental issues we face today: curbing global warming, getting toxic chemicals out of the environment, moving America beyond oil, reviving our oceans, saving wildlife and wild places, and helping China go green.
Earth Share is a U.S.-based network of the world's most respected environmental and conservation organizations, and offers a simple way to care for our health, water, air, land and wildlife. Our mission: To engage individuals and organizations in creating a healthy and sustainable environment.
The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization known around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Worldwatch research is the gold-standard for sustainability analysis for decision makers in government, civil society, business, and academia.
World Wildlife Fund
WWF's mission is the conservation of nature. Using the best available scientific knowledge and advancing that knowledge where we can, we work to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth and the health of ecological systems.