On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Ann Tutwiler, Chair of Bioversity International USA, talks about the power of biodiversity in the health of people and the planet—and the policies limiting biodiversity around the globe. “If we aren’t taking care of that biodiversity, we really aren’t taking care of the future of our food,” says Tutwiler.
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Tutwiler explains the importance of biodiversity contributions to public health. Leaving out highly nutritious and climate-resilient ingredients from diets may drive diabetes, heart disease, micronutrient deficiencies, and hunger in developing countries. “The food we eat is in a way making us sick,” says Tutwiler. “The World Health Organization has estimated that death and disability due to our diets are greater than the combination of unsafe sex, tobacco, alcohol, and a number of other causes.”
Improving global consumption of biodiverse crops involves making better policy, but these policies are lacking across the world, says Tutwiler. “Agricultural ministries, in general, aren’t thinking so much about the health consequences; they’re thinking about how to keep farmers in business… I’d really like to see polices and incentives structures reformed and reinvested,” says Tutwiler.
“I think we as consumers need to start changing what we demand” to bolster the amount of biodiverse ingredients in stores, says Tutwiler. However, Tutwiler notes that investing in the farmers supporting biodiversity will bolster the amount of biodiverse ingredients across the food system. “Women are the protectors of biodiversity because they are growing different sets of crops than what the men are growing…they are custodians, in a way, of that biodiversity,” says Tutwiler.
“We really need to change how we’re incentivizing producers and incentivizing consumers to deliver these new set of objectives,” says Tutwiler.
Photo courtesy of CGIAR