Knowledge for better food systems

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7 April 2020

This blog piece, by anthropologist Sarah Duignan of McMaster University, argues that a risk of cellular agriculture (i.e. lab-grown meat) is that some people may not benefit from the technology (despite its potential environmental benefits). For example, beef farmers may find themselves in similar difficulties to dairy farmers, who are struggling already because of decreased demand. 

7 April 2020

This blog post by John Lynch of the Oxford Livestock, Environment and People programme explains how GWP* can be used to describe the warming effect of both short- and long-lived greenhouse gases, particularly when applied to livestock.

31 March 2020

This blog post from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition sets out the impacts that COVID-19 is likely to have on the food system in both low- and high-income contexts, including impacts on health, livelihoods and the cost of food transport. It also suggests how the food system can be strengthened to mitigate these challenges. See this table (PDF link) for a summary.

31 March 2020

This blog post from the UK’s Food Ethics Council explores some of the ethical complexities in the food system’s response to COVID-19. It notes that many people are displaying compassion and supporting neighbours during the pandemic. It also argues that other ongoing crises, including climate, nature loss, health and the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal negotiations, must not be neglected.

31 March 2020

This article in the Guardian explores the links between food production and COVID-19. It points out that, while the virus is likely to have been transmitted to humans via a pangolin at a “wet” market in Wuhan, China, the virus may have come to pangolins from wild bats. Some smallholder farmers, the article suggests, began to rear “wild” animals (such as pangolins) for income when their previous livestock farming was undercut economically by industrial farming methods, and may also have been pushed onto marginal land (nearer to forests, bats and the viruses hosted by bats) by industrial agriculture’s expansion.

31 March 2020

According to the Freedom of Information request made by the UK non-profit Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA), the UK government spent only £283,780 on monitoring soil health in England in the year 2017/18, compared to £60.5 million on monitoring freshwater and £7.7 million on monitoring air.

24 March 2020

This piece in the UK’s Independent newspaper, by several researchers from the University of Oxford, sets out five questions that (they argue) should be considered by any policymaker or business setting a “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions target.

24 March 2020

This podcast by the research programme Praxis: Arts and Humanities for Global Challenges discusses interdisciplinary research, balancing priorities of preserving local food varieties with feeding the population and the future food research agenda.

24 March 2020

UK food waste NGO Feedback has curated a list of recommended reading on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is linked to food systems, including the origins of the pandemic and the effects it is having on food supply chains. 

24 March 2020

In this piece in The Conversation, Tim Lang (Professor of Food Policy at City, University of London) argues that the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis exposes the fragility of the UK’s food supply chain, with limited storage, a just-in-time supply model, and nearly half of the UK’s food being imported. Lang calls for a food rationing system to be introduced to ensure everyone has access to food (read Lang’s letter to the UK Prime Minister here).

23 March 2020

This page is a collection of resources related to coronavirus (COVID-19) and the food system.

19 March 2020

This piece from Foodservice Footprint draws together the information available so far (as of mid-March 2020) about how the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is affecting the UK's foodservice sector. The information covers impacts on restaurant staffing and operations, the food supply chain (one distributor told Footprint that "Everyone seems to be being relatively sensible at the moment"), new hygiene standards, and issues in supporting people at risk of hunger.

16 March 2020

Our World in Data has published this piece, which breaks down the extent to which the differences in carbon footprints of food categories can be attributed to methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas which has attracted controversy over how its climate impact is measured. 

10 March 2020

In this episode of the Farm Gate podcast, FCRN member ffinlo Costain speaks to Caitlin Werrell (co-founder of the Washington-based Centre for Climate & Security) and to Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti (the UK's former Climate, Energy & Security Envoy) to explore how climate change might impact food security in developed nations such as the UK and the United States. 

10 March 2020

This article from Civil Eats examines how the rise of both plant-based diets and regenerative agriculture practices have encouraged more farmers in the United States to grow pulses such as lentils, peas and chickpeas. As pulses become more popular with US consumers, a smaller fraction of the US pulse harvest is exported to other countries.

3 March 2020

This article in the San Francisco Chronicle discusses three synthetic (or “molecular”) alcoholic drinks produced by US startup Endless West: wine, whiskey and sake. The drinks are produced by mixing plain alcohol (from corn) with natural flavourings (e.g. from plants or yeasts) rather than traditional distillation methods (e.g. fermenting grapes to make wine). 

3 March 2020

In this podcast, FCRN member ffinlo Costain interviews Jenny Packwood (Director of Responsibility & Reputation for KFC UK & Ireland) and Annie Rayner and Kelly Watson (experts in broiler systems and behaviour, working at FAI Farms) to find out how the European Chicken Commitment is changing the welfare of chickens and to discuss the practical implications of delivering the requirements of the commitment.

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