Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Journal article

3 March 2020

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic formed as larger pieces break down in the environment, or else intentionally manufactured (e.g. as microbeads for cleaning products or pellets for industrial use). This paper reviews the current state of knowledge on their human health implications and effects on ecosystems. 

3 March 2020

This paper reviews literature on the effects of environmental factors on the yields and nutritional qualities of fruit, nuts and seeds. In general, yields are expected to decrease under conditions of reduced water availability, higher ozone concentrations, temperatures above 28°C and higher water salinity. Berry and peanut yields respond positively to higher carbon dioxide levels, but this effect is reduced when temperatures also rise.

3 March 2020

This paper gives an overview of the potential public health impacts of dairy production and consumption across the globe. It notes that dairy production is projected to increase by a quarter between 2014 and 2025, driven by both a rising global population and increases in the amount of dairy consumed per person.

26 February 2020

This paper by Verma et al., with FCRN member Thom Achterbosch as co-author, estimates that consumers across the world are probably wasting over twice as much food as previously believed. The study is based on the FAOSTAT Food Balance Sheets, but goes further than the Food and Agriculture Organisation in that it factors in how consumer affluence affects food waste. It finds that once people spend more than $6.70 per day (in total, not just on food), food waste starts to rise - suggesting that consumer food waste is an issue even in lower-middle income countries, not only in wealthier countries.

24 February 2020

This paper addresses the concept of co-production of actionable knowledge - where researchers and decision makers interact iteratively to produce knowledge that can be acted on, instead of a one-way flow of information from researchers to decision makers - in relation to research on environmental sustainability. 

24 February 2020

This paper finds that, as climate change causes the geographical shift of areas suitable for growing certain crops, the potential changes in land use could have impacts on biodiversity, water resources and soil carbon storage. So-called “agriculture frontiers” - areas of land not currently suitable for producing crops but that might become suitable in future due to shifts in temperature or rainfall - cover an area nearly one-third as big as current agricultural land area.

24 February 2020

In this paper, FCRN member Erasmus zu Ermgassen finds that voluntary zero deforestation commitments (ZDCs) cover more than 90% of the soy exported from the Brazilian Amazon, but only 47% of soy exported from the Brazilian Cerrado biome (a type of wooded savannah). 

18 February 2020

FCRN member ffinlo Costain has published a response to the paper Climate change: ‘no get out of jail free card’ (summarised on the FCRN website here). Costain argues that biological methane emissions - such as those from grazing livestock - can be “warming neutral” as long as they fall by 10% by 2050. Citing Oxford climate scientist Myles Allen, Costain argues that sharply cutting ruminant numbers would only deliver a warming reduction of 0.1ºC at most, which would be outweighed within a few years by continuing carbon dioxide emissions.

18 February 2020

This review paper examines how people are increasingly using the ocean - even previously inaccessible areas - for seafood, animal feed, nutraceuticals (such as omega-3 fatty acids), fuels and minerals, shipping, waste disposal and many other purposes. It argues that the view of the ocean as being too big to be affected by humans is now outdated, and that effective governance is required to manage the ocean’s ecological health while allowing sustainable use of its resources.

10 February 2020

In this debate piece, authors Pete Smith and Andrew Balmford argue that the recent development of the GWP* method of measuring the climate impact of short-lived greenhouse gases (notably methane), as opposed to the conventional GWP method, should not be used as an excuse to avoid reducing methane emissions. Read more about the differences between GWP* and GWP in the article New way to evaluate short-lived greenhouse gas emissions.

10 February 2020

FCRN member Helen Harwatt has co-authored a letter calling for high- and middle-income countries to incorporate four commitments on livestock, emissions and land use into their commitments for meeting the emissions reductions of the Paris Agreement.

10 February 2020

This paper assesses the rate of soil erosion in different countries, aiming to separate the effect of varying landscapes from the effect of different national territories, e.g. through different agricultural policies or management patterns. As an example of a sharp discontinuity in soil erosion between neighbouring countries, visible on satellite images, the paper shows the difference between Haiti (with a high soil erosion rate) and the Dominican Republic (with greater forest cover and a lower soil erosion rate) - two countries that would have similar natural soil erosion rates in the absence of human activity. 

3 February 2020

This paper quantifies the economic impact of herbicide resistance developed by the weed Alopecurus myosuroides (black-grass). It finds that the annual cost of this resistance is £0.4 billion each year in England, based on lost profit from lower crop yields. The global cost of herbicide resistance could be much higher, as there are 253 known herbicide-resistant weeds. 

3 February 2020

This paper argues that international measures to protect marine biodiversity should include protected areas that can move over space and time to adapt to the changing ranges of certain species, whether because the species in question are migratory, or because their ranges are changing because of climate change.

3 February 2020

This paper used satellites to observe the effect on yield of conservation tillage practices, such as reducing soil disturbance and leaving crop residues in the field, in the United States Corn Belt. The researchers found that long-term conservation tillage (i.e. from 2008 to 2017) was associated with a 3.3% increase in maize yields and a 0.74% yield increase for soybeans.

28 January 2020

This paper reviews abundance and catch levels in around half of global fisheries (those for which information is available). It finds that, on average, fish stocks are increasing in these regions. Fisheries that are managed intensively tend to have more fish than those that are not. Management intensity is defined by a “fishery management index”, and refers to whether levels of fishing are kept below a certain target for each fishery.

28 January 2020

This paper by FCRN member Jono Drew investigates whether healthy and climate-friendly diets might vary from global recommendations in the context of New Zealand (using food carbon footprints specific to New Zealand, where possible). It finds that shifting diets towards whole plant foods (such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains) and away from red and processed meat would have large health and climate benefits, consistent with recent global recommendations.

28 January 2020

This paper finds that over ten billion people could be fed within the constraints of four planetary boundaries (biosphere integrity, land-system change, freshwater use, and nitrogen flows), if the food system undergoes a “technological-cultural U-turn”.

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