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A recipe for trade-offs: the evolving landscape of food security in China

Jennifer Holdaway

Briefing, 4 pages

Rapid growth and urbanisation are affecting diets in China, creating tension among competing food-related policy goals. Between 1980 and 2010, the country’s urban population grew from 191 million to 636 million. Stronger links between rural and urban areas have also led to multiple and diverse food supply chains. Although hunger is now rare, two new food-related challenges are emerging: the rise of health problems from richer diets; and safety concerns caused by pollution, agricultural practices, the inappropriate use of additives and the adulteration of food. Policymakers must reconcile multi-faceted components of food security such as quality, cost and safety, while at the same time targeting the distinct needs of rural and urban areas.

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Urbanisation drives profound transformations in rural areas and in food systems, presenting both challenges and opportunities for poverty reduction, rural development and food security. Policies at the local, national, regional and global scales are of critical importance in shaping rural-urban linkages and the political economy of food systems.

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Urbanisation, rural-urban transformations and food systems