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True Cost of Food and Agriculture

agricultural production systems have been calibrated to maximise return on
investment, and utilises large amounts of inputs in terms of agrochemicals and
energy. However, such production systems often ignore, (i) the contribution of
ecosystem functions and services to the production systems, (ii) social aspects
of farming, and (iii) the impact of intensive practices on public and
environmental health. Thus these systems are increasing financial capital at
the expense of both social and natural capital. Moreover, current economic and
policy environment also supports such systems by subsidising agriculture with
the costs to public and environment health. At the same time, these systems can
appear to be more profitable than some of the sustainable alternatives due to their
unrecognised and unaccounted costs associated with the above-mentioned damage
that they are not being charged for. 

Therefore, there is need to recalibrate
current agricultural systems by understanding, assessing and monetising the
social and environmental benefits and costs of different production systems.
This information then can be used to influence policies that may favour those
practices which enhances social and natural capital in agriculture and optimise
food production systems. A f
arm sustainability assessment tool described in this presentation analyses different food production systems and reveal their social and environmental benefits and costs.  

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