FAO and Bioversity used the release of the book "Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity" to call for immediate measures to promote sustainable diets and agricultural biodiversity, in order to improve human health and the global environmental situation.

The book consists of the main presentations made at the International Conference "Biodiversity and Sustainable Diets: United Against Hunger", which took place in November 2010 during the "World Food Week" and where the links between agriculture, biodiversity, nutrition, environment, food production and consumption where explored. The conference was useful to better develop the definition of "sustainable diet", a concept introduced in the 80s which proposed the development of recommendations to spend the diets lead healthier not only consumers, but also healthier environments. The concept was overlooked in the years following, having passed into the background compared to the goal of eliminating hunger by any means.

"Three decades later, we now know that regardless of the many successes in agriculture, production systems and diets are not sustainable", says Barbara Burlingame, Head of FAO’s Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division,in the book's preface. Indeed, in today's world, 1000 million people go hungry, while an even greater number suffer from obesity, people from both groups suffer from specific nutritional deficiencies (such as lack of vitamin A, iron and iodine), and the world nutrition situation tends to get worse.

Until now, the problem of feeding a growing world population has been seen as a matter of producing sufficient quantities of food. This meant that traditional cultures have been abandoned in favor of high-energy crops, since industrial agriculture and improvement of transportation allowed the rapid massive availability of carbohydrates and refined fats . This resulted in a simplification of diets, a widespread global dependence on a limited number of crops: for example three cereals - corn, rice and wheat - provide 60% of calories from plant origin consumed globally. Another consequence is the tremendous negative impact on the health of people as non-communicable diseases (like diabetes and cardiovascular problems) that are becoming the new global epidemics, and the environment, with the IUCN to consider that almost 36% of 48,000 species assessed are threatened.

Burlingame believes that sustainable diets may "promote the consumption of foods whose production consumes less water and emit less carbon, preserving biodiversity food (including traditional cultures) contributing to a transition to farming systems that are efficient from the standpoint of nutrition, friends the environment and resilient to climate change. "

One interesting note is that the book highlights the Mediterranean diet as a good example of sustainable diet.