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U of G Prof to Head $6.6-Million, International Climate Change, Indigenous Food Security Project

U of G’s Prof. Sherilee Harper will lead an international team in a new $6.6-million research project on food-related aspects of climate change.When it comes to climate change, the greatest threat to human health and survival may surprise some people, says a University of Guelph professor.

Extreme temperatures, droughts and natural disasters have numerous direct and indirect effects on human health, but the most dire is the threat to food systems, security and safety, said Sherilee Harper.

“Food-related mortality rates will far exceed all other climate-related human health effects,” said Harper, an epidemiologist in U of G’s Department of Population Medicine and a climate change and health expert.

She will lead an international team in a new $6.6-million research project on food-related aspects of climate change intended to focus on some of the world’s most at-risk populations – including people living in Canada’s North.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is contributing $2 million of that amount through its Environments and Health Signature Initiative Intersectoral Prevention Research grants program. The announcement was made today by Jane Philpott, minister of health, during the World Health Summit in Montreal. Harper’s project was one of nine announced today, totalling more than $18 million.

 “This is fantastic news and a proud day for U of G,” said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research).

“Professor Harper will bring her impressive leadership skills to bear to realize an exceptional project that embodies our motto to ‘improve life.’ She and a team of international researchers will be advancing knowledge in remote communities that will resonate around the world, leading to better policies, practices, and methods for adapting to climate change.”

The World Health Organization predicts that half of climate-related deaths will be food-related, and that hunger and malnutrition will increase by more than 35 per cent by 2050.

“It’s well understood that climate change is one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century,” said Harper. “But food issues have received less attention compared to other climate-health outcomes.”

Read the entire article on the University of Guelph website.