Eco-Agri-Food Ecology and Human Health

  • Nadia El-Hage Scialabba


This chapter reviews epidemiological, toxicological and clinical trials literature to inform on the major disease groups that should be systematically researched in terms of eco-agri-food system risk factors. Disease groups covered include both nutrition-related diseases, as well as agriculture-related diseases linked to agricultural chemicals found in food and the environment, including: hunger-related morbidity, obesity and metabolic disorders; cardio-vascular diseases; food-borne-infections and zoonotic diseases; anti-microbial-resistant infections; chronic respiratory diseases; neoplasms; developmental and reproductive deficiencies (endocrine disruption); neuro-degenerative diseases; immune system disorders, food allergy and other food hypersensitivities; gastro-intestinal tract disorders; and poisoning, injury and certain other consequences of external causes. This paper highlights the need to consider the whole eco-agri-food system when considering the impact of the food system on human health, including overlapping pathways, from access to food and nutrition and dietary patterns, through food and environmental quality, to occupational hazards. In particular, it advocates for a system approach to scientific analysis, as a basis for decision-making to prevent chronic and non-communicable diseases related to eco-agri-food systems.


Eco-agri-food system Human health Non-communicable diseases 



The author wishes to thank the following colleagues for having provided insights to an earlier version of this paper, including: Barbara Gemmill-Herren (Biovision Foundation), Bruce Hirsch (Clarence Heller Foundation), Bernhard Johannes Kahl (University of Copenhagen), Peter Kenmore (Santa Clara University), André Leu (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), Alexander Mueller (TMG Think Tank on Sustainability), Nina Teicholz (New York Times), Domenico Scanu (International Society of Doctors for the Environment), Cristina Tirado (International Union for Nutritional Sciences) and Kevin Gallagher (Future of Agriculture Think Tank). Thanks are also due to Isabella and Daniele Scialabba for having checked and organized the list of references.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadia El-Hage Scialabba
    • 1
  1. 1.Food and Agriculture Organization of the United NationsRomeItaly

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