Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Journal article

Image: Beetle, Candies, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
16 October 2018

A paper argues that current definitions of ultra-processed foods are inconsistently applied. Furthermore, while higher consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with higher sugar intake and lower fibre intake, the paper claims that intakes of fat, saturated fat and salt are not associated with ultra-processed food consumption. The paper questions the policy recommendation that ultra-processed foods should be avoided.

Image: World Resources Institute, Two farmers in Brazil with their acerola berry harvest, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
16 October 2018

FCRN member Ken Giller has co-authored a paper that reviews the targets and indicators used to measure the second sustainable development goal (SDG-2), i.e. the pursuit of global food security and agricultural sustainability. The paper concludes that the UN’s current set of targets and indicators for SDG-2 are not universally applicable, and proposes a revised set of indicators.

Image: JD Hancock, Apple Earth, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
16 October 2018

A combination of measures including a shift towards plant-based diets, halving food waste and technological changes in agriculture (such as more efficient fertiliser application, feed additives and changes in irrigation) could significantly reduce the food system’s environmental impacts relative to 2050 projections and potentially even reduce impacts below today’s levels, according to a new paper.

Image: Sonja Pieper, Ploughing a rice field in South India, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
8 October 2018

Rice cultivation emits methane and nitrous oxide, which are both more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. Policies to reduce methane emissions from rice farming generally recommend using intermittent (as opposed to continuous) flooding. However, intermittent flooding could produce much higher nitrous oxide emissions than continuous flooding, according to a recent paper.

Image: Alan Light, GIOCO restaurant, Chicago, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
8 October 2018

FCRN member Eugene Mohareb of the University of Reading is the lead author on a paper that quantifies greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the US food supply chain. The paper argues that the majority of food system emissions could be best mitigated by urban areas and urban consumers (see below for definitions), rather by production side mitigation measures. The paper assesses how municipalities and urban dwellers might be able to contribute to deep, long-term emissions cuts along the food supply chain.

Image: The Advocacy Project, Smiling with an Armful of Food, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
8 October 2018

A global model of how child stunting could be affected by climate change and poverty in 2030 has been developed by FCRN member Simon Lloyd of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. By 2030, an estimated 570,000 to over one million children under 5 will suffer from stunting that can be attributed to climate change, with both greater poverty and greater climate change causing more stunting.

Image: Vieve Forward, Tractor spreading fertilizer(?) near Down Barn, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

The cost-effectiveness of different methods of cutting agricultural greenhouse gas emissions is often calculated using marginal abatement cost curves (MACCs). FCRN member Dominic Moran of the University of Edinburgh has quantified the uncertainties in calculating MACCs for Scottish agricultural mitigation options, including improving land drainage, improving the timing of nitrogen application, and using controlled release fertilisers. The paper suggests that policymakers may wish to exclude options that have a high uncertainty, as they may not always be as cost-effective as the MACC suggests.

Image: PollyDot, Honey bees beehive, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
2 October 2018

The common weed killer glyphosate targets an enzyme only found in plants and microorganisms. However, a new paper finds that glyphosate can harm honey bees even though they lack the targeted enzyme. Glyphosate does this by changing the balance of microorganisms (some of which contain the relevant enzyme) found in the bees’ guts, making the bees more susceptible to infections.

Image: Dario Sanches, Todirostrum cinereum, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

Birds catch insects less frequently in silvopastures (grazing land with substantial tree cover) than in forest fragments, according to a study in the Colombian Andes. This suggests that silvopasture provides relatively lower quality habitat for the bird species studied. However, the paper proposes some measures to improve the quality of silvopastures as habitats for birds, including encouraging certain tree species and forming particular microhabitats, such as vine tangles and hanging dead leaves.

Image: glennhurowitz, Recently planted palm oil plantation on rainforest peatland, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

27% of global deforestation since 2001 has been caused by permanent land use change for producing commodities (such as beef, soy and palm oil), according to a recent paper. The researchers used satellite imagery to assess 10 km by 10 km grid cells across the globe and categorised each cell by likely forest disturbance type: commodity production, shifting agriculture, managed forestry, wildfire, or urbanisation.

Image: Pxhere, Grass farm animal, CC0 Public Domain
2 October 2018

Relatively intensive, high-yield farming systems often have lower environmental impacts per unit of product, according to a new paper. The paper used a new framework to measure both land use and major environmental externalities (greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and nitrogen, phosphorus and soil losses) for several different farming systems.

Image: George Hodan, Praying hands, Public Domain Pictures, Public domain
25 September 2018

A survey of Canadians finds that a high level of dedication to Christianity is negatively correlated with monetary donations to environmental causes, while being a believer without an affiliation to organised religion is positively correlated to such donations. However, being very religious was positively correlated with volunteering for environmental causes, while being strictly secular or nominally religious were negatively correlated with such volunteering.

Image: Rob Mitchell, Cow and calf, Flickr, Public Domain
25 September 2018

In this study, researchers investigated the views of urban Brazilian citizens on dairy production. The study also explored the public’s awareness of and their views on the acceptability of four common husbandry practices: early cow-calf separation; zero-grazing; culling of the newborn male calf; and dehorning without pain mitigation. Their goal was to understand Brazilians’ concerns around and acceptance of dairy farming.

Image: Tookapic, Food plate restaurant, Pexels, CC0 Creative Commons
25 September 2018

FCRN member Laurence Godin of the University of Geneva has written a paper that uses social practice theory to map food prescriptions (i.e. guidelines on how best to eat) and their translation in practice. It identifies what elements are essential for taking up food prescriptions, beyond individual motivation and intention.

Image: skeeze, Honeybee flying insect, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
18 September 2018

When given a choice between food with or without an added neonicotinoid pesticide (thought to be harmful to bees), bees initially show no preference for the pesticide, but over time choose to feed on the pesticide-laced food. This means that pesticide-treated crops may become disproportionately attractive to bees, increasing the bees’ exposure to harmful compounds. The study did not identify the mechanism by which bees develop a preference for the pesticide.

Image: Foto-Rabe, Vegetables Mediterranean Herbs, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
18 September 2018

FCRN member Nicole Tichenor Blackstone of Tufts University has recently authored a paper that compares the environmental impacts of three healthy eating patterns recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The vegetarian eating pattern had lower impacts than the US-style and Mediterranean-style eating patterns in all six impact categories considered.

Image: Max Pixel, Cow eating farm, CC0 Public Domain
18 September 2018

If the US were to shift to entirely grass-finished beef (vs. grain-finished), then the US cattle population would have to increase by 30% relative to today, because grass-fed cattle gain weight more slowly than those fattened in feedlots. Furthermore, existing pastures would have to become 40%-370% more productive to avoid converting more natural habitat to farmland or competition with human food supply. Methane emissions from the cattle’s digestive systems might increase by 43%, again because of slower growth rates.

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