Hanna Tuomisto

Associate Professor in Sustainable Food Systems, University of Helsinki

 

Hanna Tuomisto is an associate professor in sustainable food systems at the University of Helsinki, where she leads the Future Sustainable Food Systems -research group. Her research interests are focused on estimating the potential of novel food production technologies and dietary change to improve the sustainability of food systems. She has a strong experience in the development and use of environmental sustainability assessment methods, such as life cycle assessment and carbon footprinting. Currently, Tuomisto is involved in various projects related to environmental impacts, consumer acceptance and societal impacts of novel cell-cultured foods, plant-based proteins and dietary change, but also in projects that focus on improving the sustainability of agriculture and livestock production. Tuomisto holds an MSc degree in Agroecology from the University of Helsinki and a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford. After finishing her doctoral degree in 2011, she gained 6 years of postdoctoral researcher experience working at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

 

Food and environmental sustainability – challenges in impact assessment

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is commonly used for estimating the environmental impacts of foods and diets. In an LCA, the environmental impacts related to the production process are accounted, and the impacts are allocated to the outputs of the system. The main challenges related to the use of LCA in estimating the environmental impacts of different foods are related to i) the unit of comparison (e.g. should the impacts be compared per unit of weight or per unit of protein, energy or other nutrients), ii) co-product allocation (e.g. how should the impacts between milk, meat and other products from a cow be shared), iii) the consideration of wider consequential impacts that are not directly related to the production process (e.g. indirect land use change and impacts on the production of other commodities) and iv) the variety of environmental impact categories included in the assessment.