Knowledge for better food systems

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24 February 2020

This blog post by Joe Herbert, PhD student in Human Geography at Newcastle University and editor for Degrowth.info, argues that the degrowth movement (which advocates for shrinking economic activity) has not sufficiently considered the role of animals in its vision of a “just and redistributive downscaling of material and energetic throughput in wealthy countries as a means to achieve ecological sustainability”.

24 February 2020

This explainer from Carbon Brief outlines nine interlinked “tipping points” where climate warming could trigger an abrupt change. They include disintegration of ice sheets, changes in ocean circulation, thawing of permafrost, and dieback of ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest and coral reefs.

18 February 2020

This article in the Guardian, by food writer Bee Wilson, author of The Way We Eat Now, describes the debate around so-called ultra-processed foods. Wilson describes the classification system for processed foods developed by researcher Carlos Monteiro and the research being done on the health impacts of ultra-processed foods.

18 February 2020

This blog post by Shefali Sharma of the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy says that agriculture and the people whose livelihoods depend on it must be core considerations in international climate negotiations. Sharma argues that proposed solutions such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and carbon credits simply allow existing industries to continue increasing their emissions.

18 February 2020

The University of Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People project has published a new series of blog posts exploring controversies in the food system. The series aims to explore and clarify areas where evidence is unclear.

10 February 2020

This blog post, by Caroline Grunewald and Dan Blaustein-Rejto of the Breakthrough Institute (a US think tank), argues that the large scale of much American farming does not mean it is necessarily unsustainable - rather, when looking at the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water use per unit of output, dramatic improvements have been seen since 1961.

3 February 2020

In this podcast from the World Resources Institute, Andika Putraditama (sustainable commodities and business manager at WRI Indonesia) discusses how buyers have responded to certified sustainable palm oil. Some prefer to avoid palm oil altogether. Putraditama argues that encouraging certified palm oil would incentivise the palm oil industry to change its practices.

3 February 2020

This podcast from global food community Food Matters Live discusses the effect that veganism has recently had on the food industry, how plant-based food and drink is likely to develop throughout 2020, and how the media and food companies talk about plant-based foods.

3 February 2020

The European Commission has set out a European Green Deal, a plan to transform the European economy to net-zero emissions by 2050, and to decouple economic growth from resource use. The Green Deal will include a new “Farm to Fork” strategy (to be set out in full in the spring of 2020) to reward food producers for services such as storing carbon in the soil, improving water quality and reducing the use of pesticides, fertilisers and antibiotics.

28 January 2020

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity has released a draft plan to protect biodiversity, ahead of a summit in China in October. The plan sets out 20 actions which could, by 2030, “put biodiversity on a path to recovery for the benefit of planet and people”.

28 January 2020

This Guardian article discusses farms that are growing crops organically without using animal manure or blood and bone meal, in contrast to most organic farms. This approach is not yet widespread, with only around 50 such farms in the United States. Relevant organisations include the Biocyclic Vegan Standard and the Vegan Organic Network.

20 January 2020

This article by Caroline Grunewald and Dan Blaustein-Rejto, both of of the US Breakthrough Institute think-tank, argues that the environmental movement fails to appreciate the environmental benefits that can result from free trade, by enabling producer countries with lower environmental impacts per unit of food to displace products from countries with higher environmental impacts.

20 January 2020

Online conferences have the advantage of reducing carbon emissions from travel, particularly air travel, but they can be less convenient when it comes to networking and developing personal connections. The November meeting of the European Biological Rhythms Society tried to fix this by inviting psychologists to develop remote ways of encouraging networking.

20 January 2020

A new agriculture bill has been brought to the UK parliament, setting out food and farming policies for after the UK leaves the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy. It includes support to help farmers preserve soil, a plan to regularly review food security in the UK, and paying farmers for purposes such as flood protection, climate mitigation or public access to the countryside.

7 January 2020

In this piece for The Conversation, Dan Evans, PhD researcher in soil science at Lancaster University, explains his research on rates of soil formation and erosion. His measurements on a farm in Nottinghamshire, UK suggest that the top 30 cm of soil there could disappear within 138 years because the rate of erosion exceeds the rate of soil formation. 

7 January 2020

FCRN member Ken Giller, professor of Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University & Research, has contributed to the online magazine “The Story of N2Africa”, which tells stories from the last ten years of the project N2Africa: Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa.

2 December 2019

According to this article by the New Food Economy, the United States has experienced five E. coli outbreaks in the leafy green supply chain in two years. The latest outbreak, affecting romaine lettuce, originated in Salinas, California. A task force found that a 2018 outbreak was possibly linked to the presence of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) near lettuce farms.

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