Knowledge for better food systems

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2 December 2019

Over 10,000 farmers blocked roads in Berlin on 26 November 2019 with a convoy of tractors in protest at regulations that will limit the use of fertiliser (to reduce groundwater pollution) and the weedkiller glyphosate (to protect insect populations). Farmers say that the measures will threaten their livelihoods and are also protesting against the perception that farmers are to blame for the climate crisis.

2 December 2019

In this blog post, Samuel Smith of international sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future sets out research he intends to conduct on how regenerative agriculture is understood, the strategies that could be used to scale it up, and how the food system would be affected by widespread conversion to regenerative agriculture.

11 November 2019

According to this article from Civil Eats, several large food companies, including General Mills, Danone, Kellogg’s and Nestlé, plan to help farmers apply regenerative agricultural techniques to build organic matter in soils. The article questions whether the initiative will help to tackle climate change or only help the companies to sell more products.

11 November 2019

In this blog post, Asaf Tzachor of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge describes four pathways by which the global food system could collapse. He calls for greater awareness that interactions between different processes (such as ocean acidification, climate change, wildfires and plant diseases) could lead to vicious cycles, and argues that policymakers should seek leverage points in the food system.

4 November 2019

This feature from the Guardian newspaper explores why veganism attracts hostility from some commenters. The piece suggests that opposition to veganism can be driven by concerns about malnutrition and fear of loss of personal freedom, and may also be linked to certain ideas about traditional gender roles.

4 November 2019

This op-ed by FCRN member Mia MacDonald and Judy Bankman, both of US think tank Brighter Green, argues that affordable, accessible, sustainable and healthy diets for everyone can only be achieved with the commitment of everyone, including policymakers, industry influencers, city planners, local business owners and consumers.

22 October 2019

In this opinion piece in the Guardian newspaper, Jess Fanzo and Mario Herrero argue that food producers, consumers and governments all need to make changes to help reduce the climate impact of the food system. 

9 October 2019

In an open letter, the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission urges the Secretaries of State in several UK government departments (including Defra, International Trade, Health, Business, and International Development) to consider the environmental implications of any future trade deals, in particular to avoid “offshoring” impacts to countries with weaker environmental standards.

18 September 2019

Michelle Cain, Myles Allen and John Lynch of the University of Oxford have published a plain-language briefing note that explains how different ways of measuring the climate impact of methane (GWP100 versus GWP*) affect definitions of net zero emissions targets.

22 July 2019

This opinion piece in The Hill by Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Centre for Biological Diversity, argues that the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (which is reviewing the guidelines for their 2020-2025 edition) is strongly influenced by the food industry and that the committee will not be allowed to conduct a full review of the evidence on questions such as food sustainability.

16 July 2019

This article in AgFunderNews explores how the “pasture-raised” label is used in poultry retail in the US. The label, which has not yet been officially defined by the USDA or the FDA, has attracted controversy from some food industry actors and animal welfare advocates, who say that some producers using the label do not have welfare standards as high as customers expect.

9 July 2019

Over 100 food organisations, including many supermarkets, have signed the “Step up to the Plate” pledge (organised by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to halve food waste by 2030, support a week of action in November 2019, empower citizens and change their individual habits so as to reduce food waste.

9 July 2019

This opinion piece in YES! Magazine, written by Stephanie Feldstein (population and sustainability director at the Centre for Biological Diversity), uses the case of plant-based burgers to explore the tensions between personal environmental actions, industry actions and systemic change.

4 July 2019

A new a two-year interdisciplinary project research project, Rurban Revolution, will ask whether ruralising urban areas through greening and growing can create a healthy, sustainable and resilient food system. The project, based at Lancaster University, will be run by Jess Davies. Thanks to FCRN member Lael Walsh for bringing this project to our attention.

4 July 2019

The UK government has announced a year-long review of the food system, which will lead to a new National Food Strategy for England. As well as consulting experts and people working through the supply chain, the review process will include a Citizen’s Assembly (a form of sortition), where a representative set of randomly selected people will listen to the evidence, debate it and make suggestions for next steps.

25 June 2019

This blog post by Mia MacDonald of US think tank Brighter Green and Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary explains the African swine fever epidemic that is currently affecting China and Southeast Asia. Over 3 million pigs have already been killed by the disease or culled as a preventative measure. The disease has not yet been passed on to humans.

25 June 2019

The Oxford Martin School has helped to develop NaturEtrade, an online marketplace for ecosystems services. Landowners or managers can set a price that they would accept in return for keeping their land in its present ecological condition, rather than putting it to other uses that might degrade it. Buyers who want the land to remain unchanged, e.g. a business further downstream that wants to limit flooding, can enter into a contract with the landowner or manager.

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