Knowledge for better food systems

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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.

17 June 2019

A joint investigation by the Guardian newspaper, Channel 4 News and the UK’s non-profit Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that halving ammonia emissions from farms in the UK could save thousands of lives each year. However, a loophole in regulations means that ammonia emissions from beef and dairy farms do not have to be monitored.

11 June 2019

Following consultation with fishers and marine conservation experts, the UK government has created new Marine Conservation Zones around the English coast, taking the UK’s total protected areas of ocean to over twice the size of England. However, some critics question whether the protected areas are actually beneficial to wildlife.

3 June 2019

A jury-style event hosted by the UK’s Food Ethics Council finds that a meat tax is too simplistic. The event saw four “expert witnesses” give evidence on the impacts of meat and sugar taxes, the environmental impacts of grazing livestock, and the health impacts of consuming processed and ultra-processed meat.

3 June 2019

In this research note, the US-based Open Philanthropy Project discusses whether animal welfare might be helped or hindered by climate-focused reductions in meat consumption. For example, the note points out that meat types with a relatively low carbon footprint (e.g. chicken) are often from smaller animals (compared to, say, cows) and thus require more animals to be farmed and killed.

3 June 2019

Organic charity the Soil Association is calling for the UK government to introduce a mandatory meat-free day each week for school catering to tackle climate change and increase fibre intake, noting that few schools currently follow the voluntary plant-based day recommended by the current School Food Standards.

29 May 2019

Wageningen University and Research has formed a consortium together with several private companies to research the use of co-products and residues from the food sector and industry as animal feed. A particular research focus will be on increasing Europe’s self-sufficiency in feed materials.

29 May 2019

This feature in the New Food Economy explores how autonomous weed-picking robots could replace herbicides and tackle weeds that have become resistant to some herbicides. The robots use both GPS tracking and cameras to navigate fields and remove weeds.

13 May 2019

New Zealand has introduced a new bill that aims to bring emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. A separate target has been set for methane emissions from agriculture, with planned cuts of 10% by 2030 and 24% to 47% by 2050.

13 May 2019

The UK’s Food Research Collaboration (FRC) has launched a new blog series, “Brexit Briefings Update”. The series aims to revisit policy areas already covered by the FRC’s Food Brexit Briefings series of papers (on food policy issues linked to the UK’s upcoming departure from the European Union), covering any updates that have occurred since publication. The first post in the series is “Farm animal welfare in the UK: setting the bar higher”.

8 May 2019

New York City has launched a new strategy to tackle climate change, inequality and other social and environmental issues. The strategy calls for the City to end unnecessary purchases of single-use plastic foodware, phase out the purchase of processed meat and halve purchases of beef.

8 May 2019

In this comment piece for Foodservice Footprint, Dan Crossley of the UK-based charity Food Ethics Council argues that the current model of charitable food assistance can give an excuse for businesses and policymakers to avoid addressing the underlying causes of food insecurity.

8 May 2019

The UK Parliament has endorsed a motion to declare a climate and environment emergency, in response to the 2019 Extinction Rebellion protests and calls from the Labour opposition. The motion, which is not legally binding, follows declarations of a climate emergency by the Welsh Government, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and several cities across the UK.

24 April 2019

The European parliament’s agriculture committee has approved a ban on using words such as ‘burger’, ‘sausage’, ‘steak’ or ‘escalope’ to name vegetarian food products. The proposal will not become law unless approved by the full parliament, which will not vote on the issue until after May 2019’s elections.

24 April 2019

According to the BMJ (British Medical Journal), the World Health Organisation pulled out of sponsoring a launch event for the EAT-Lancet report on healthy and sustainable diets after Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy’s ambassador to the United Nations, questioned the health and economic impacts of the report’s largely plant-based diet recommendations.

8 April 2019

In this Food Talk podcast by US think-tank Food Tank, Dr. Mariame Maiga (Regional Gender and Social Development Advisor for the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development) discusses the role that gender plays in agricultural and sustainable development.

8 April 2019

Schools strike climate activist Greta Thunberg, along with several scientists, authors and campaigners, has called for “natural climate solutions” to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss simultaneously.

1 April 2019

This blog post in Foodprint (part of US food advocacy group GRACE Communications) explores how food safety scares and recalls can cause food waste. In addition to the disposal of contaminated food items, other items of the same type are often disposed of to be sure of removing all affected items. New supply chain traceability technologies could reduce the amount of food disposed of during recalls.

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