The food industry needs to change more radically in the coming decades than ever before, if it is to address the unprecedented challenges that lie ahead, warns a new government report.

The Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and Choices for Global Sustainability said relatively little new land for agriculture means more food needs to be produced by simultaneously raising yields, increasing the efficiency with which inputs are used and reducing the negative environmental effects of food production. It warned of growing pressure on water supplies and says incentives to encourage greater efficiency of water use and the development of integrated water management plans need to be given high priority.

Food waste was also highlighted as a priority an area where individual citizens and businesses, particularly in high-income countries, can make a clear contribution, said the report. And it called on everyone to play a part: UN and other international organisations, governments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, the research community and individual consumers.

It concluded: "There is the risk of negative irreversible events if action is not taken; this includes the loss of biodiversity, the collapse of fisheries and the loss of some ecosystem services, for example the destruction of soils."