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Volume 1 Issue 1, January 2020

Silos and systems

The image of a corn processing plant with storage silos represents an early stage of the food supply chain and entry point to a complex, increasingly globalized food system with broad health, economic, social and environmental interactions. The journey from silo to system starts here.

See Editorial.

Image: YinYang/E+/Getty. Cover Design: Tulsi Voralia


  • The global food system needs a radical overhaul to sustainably feed 10 billion people by 2050. Nature Food calls on scientists from the many disciplines of food to contribute their knowledge and experience to a collective dialogue on food system transformation.



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Comment & Opinion

  • Without a great food system transformation, the world will fail to deliver both on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. There are five grand challenges to be faced, by science and society, to effect that transformation.

    • Johan Rockström
    • Ottmar Edenhofer
    • Fabrice DeClerck
  • Transformation of the food system at the national scale requires concerted action from government, business and civil society, based on sound evidence from the research community. A programme for transformation of the United Kingdom’s food system, for healthy people and a healthy environment, is described here.

    • Riaz Bhunnoo
    • Guy M. Poppy
  • A programme developed across five UK universities aims to equip graduate professionals with the skills, tools and capabilities to better understand and manage food-system complexity for food security, for the environment and for enterprise.

    • John Ingram
    • Raquel Ajates
    • Rebecca White
  • Tom Arnold has a wealth of experience in humanitarian and development approaches to combatting hunger. In his roles in food and agriculture, including with Scaling Up Nutrition and Task Force Rural Africa, he advocates for policy consistency and supportive relationships between civil society, business and government.

    • Anne Mullen
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Books & Arts

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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • A consistent global gridded multi-model assessment of wheat production under climate change points to large uncertainties arising from crop models, particularly in mid and high latitudes.

    • Ann-Kristin Koehler
    News & Views
  • The wealth of national food supply data, collected over decades by member states of the Food and Agriculture Organization, provides intriguing insights into regional transitions.

    • Roseline Remans
    News & Views
  • Climate tipping points, such as the collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), could drive significant structural changes in agriculture, with profound consequences for global food security.

    • Tim G. Benton
    News & Views
  • Up to now, creativity, ingenuity, time and more than a little luck have been essential for transforming a wild plant into a new food crop. Building on the understanding of gene function in Arabidopsis, the process of domestication can be rapidly accelerated.

    • Anne B. Britt
    News & Views
  • The gap between global supply and demand of omega-3 fatty acids is twice previous estimates. Opportunities to narrow that gap include increasing use of fishery by-products and reducing food waste.

    • Brett D. Glencross
    News & Views
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  • This Perspective builds on the concept of full-chain nitrogen use efficiency to propose policy interventions and criteria that target major actors in the agri-food chain.

    • David R. Kanter
    • Fabio Bartolini
    • Aimable Uwizeye
  • Advances such as machine learning may enable the full biochemical spectrum of food to be studied systematically. Uncovering the ‘dark matter’ of nutrition could open new avenues for a greater understanding of the composition of what we eat and how it relates to health and disease

    • Albert-László Barabási
    • Giulia Menichetti
    • Joseph Loscalzo
  • Diet and policy approaches to curb obesity and type 2 diabetes can be contentious and confusing. This Review synthesises state-of-the-art and emerging evidence on diet and health, reflects on policy and reconciles the evolution of the discipline of nutritional science with changes in dietary advice.

    • Dariush Mozaffarian
    Review Article
  • Trade agreements can constrain or enable governments’ ability to implement food system-level actions aimed at improving nutrition and mitigating climate change. The technical and political aspects of trade agreements that interact with food systems are reviewed here, and the coherence between trade policy goals and public interest goals, such as nutrition and climate change, is discussed.

    • Sharon Friel
    • Ashley Schram
    • Belinda Townsend
    Review Article
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  • Food systems are increasingly globalized and interdependent. Using food supply data from over 170 countries, Bentham et al. characterize global patterns of food supply change over five decades, highlighting the decline in the supply of animal source food and sugar in many Western countries, the increase in the supply of such foods in Asian countries and remarkably little change in food supply in the sub-Saharan Africa region.

    • James Bentham
    • Gitanjali M Singh
    • Majid Ezzati
  • Collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) will impact agricultural land use and its economic value in Great Britain. Ritchie et al. model the impacts of smooth (conventional climate change) and abrupt (tipping point change) AMOC collapse on land use, arable farming and related economic outputs in Britain, as well as the economic feasibility of technological adaptations such as widespread irrigation.

    • Paul D. L. Ritchie
    • Greg S. Smith
    • Ian J. Bateman
  • Thlaspi arvense (pennycress) has the potential to provide new sources of food and bioproducts when grown as a winter cover crop. Here, Chopra et al. demonstrate that multiple desirable traits can be stacked to rapidly domesticate pennycress. The resulting crop integrates into current crop rotations and produces seeds with improved nutritional qualities, easier harvesting and suitability for human consumption.

    • Ratan Chopra
    • Evan B. Johnson
    • M. David Marks
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Food for Thought

  • Globalization transforms societies, economies and cultures. As a subject, food allows us to draw unique narratives on these transformations . The history of pie and mash, also known as the ‘Londoner’s meal’, is such a story of globalization.

    • Ronald Ranta
    Food for Thought
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