Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Primary production: Agriculture

Agricultural production sits at the heart of major societal concerns, spanning food security, nutrition and health; livelihoods and development; the environment;and animal ethics. In early history, the farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that allowed for the development of sedentary civilisation. Later, the Green Revolution of the twentieth century allowed for large groups of people, especially in developed countries, to “move off the land” and improved food supplies across much of the world. Yet while innovations in modern agronomy, plant and animal breeding, pesticides and fertilizer use have greatly increased food output, much environmental harm arising from these practices has occurred while concerns are also growing around excess calories and poor nutrition, leading to obesity and associated non communicable diseases as well as micronutrient deficiencies. Many of the 1.3 billion people worldwide who rely directly or indirectly on agriculture for their living face problems arising from imbalanced power structures, including poor working conditions, uncertain land use and tenure, and lack of access to inputs, infrastructure, capital and knowledge; these imbalances play out along the whole of the food value chain, between the genders, within country populations and across countries and regions. As to the environment, agriculture is responsible for some 20% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions of which about half arise directly from crop and livestock production and the other half from agriculturally induced land use change. It is also the main cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss, a major user and polluter of scarce water resources and responsible for the disruption of global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.

29 January 2019

In this podcast by social impact careers organisation 80,000 Hours, engineer David Denkenberger argues that it would be possible to feed everyone even in the event of a disaster that disrupts agriculture, such as a nuclear winter or asteroid strike.

29 January 2019

This book explores 18 case studies of family farming across several continents through a ‘sustainable rural livelihood’ framework. The authors are from both academia and development bodies.

Image: congerdesign, Chicks hatch eggshell, Pixabay, Pixabay license
22 January 2019

A new process, Seleggt, can determine the sex of a chick before it hatches from the egg, avoiding the culling of unwanted male chicks in the egg industry (which often happens by feeding live chicks into shredding machines). The first eggs produced using the process are on sale in Berlin.

22 January 2019

This book, edited by Pasquale Ferranti, Elliot Berry and Anderson Jock, offers readers a ‘one-stop’ resource on food security and sustainability. It has been written by both academics and practitioners.

15 January 2019

This book, edited by Rachid Serraj and Prabhu Pingali, explores the threats and opportunities that global agricultural and food systems are likely to face between now and 2050. Chapter topics include global drivers and megatrends, urbanisation, technological innovation and intensification of agriculture.

15 January 2019

This policy briefing, by FCRN member Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming, argues that industrial animal agriculture will make it difficult to reach several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

15 January 2019

In this report, the Barilla Centre for Food & Nutrition uses findings from the Food Sustainability Index to investigate best practices in food sustainability, focusing on sustainable agriculture, nutritional challenges, and food loss and waste.

15 January 2019

The EAT-Lancet Commission sets out a “universal healthy reference diet” that it argues will allow the food system to remain within the planetary boundaries while feeding 10 billion people by 2050. The suggested diet includes a variety of plant-based foods and low amounts of animal-based foods.

Image: Pixabay, Burger meat bread, CC0 Public Domain
15 January 2019

In this paper, FCRN member Hanna Tuomisto gives an overview of the process of growing cultured meat, current developments, its environmental impacts, technical challenges, and consumer perceptions.

Image: NEON_ja, Chlorella vulgaris Beijerinck NIES-2170 / Olympus IX71+DP72, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
15 January 2019

Insects, seaweed, microalgae, cultured meat, mycoprotein and mussels are among the nine ‘future foods’ discussed in this paper, co-authored by FCRN members Hanna Tuomisto and Hannah van Zanten, which compares the nutritional profiles and environmental impacts of these foods with conventional plant- and animal-sourced foods.

10 December 2018

The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University has launched a new website on agroecology, containing information about related projects, publications, policy statements and videos.

10 December 2018

The Food Research Collaboration continues its series on Brexit (for our non-UK readers, the UK’s upcoming departure from the European Union) with an exploration of the paths that UK pesticide regulation could take: either deregulation and allowing greater pesticide use, or strengthening of regulations in line with or beyond those of the EU.

Image: edward musiak, coconut farm, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
10 December 2018

This paper performs a cost-benefit analysis for various climate-smart agriculture practices on farms in Vietnam, Nicaragua and Uganda, including switching annual to perennial crops (e.g. coconut), crop rotations, using organic fertiliser and intercropping maize and beans.

Image: Free-Photos, Pig animal snout, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
3 December 2018

Facial recognition could be used on pig farms in China to provide individualised feeding plans. The artificial intelligence system, created by a subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce company JD, can also track a pig’s growth, physical condition and vaccinations over its lifespan.

28 November 2018

The upcoming book In Defence of Farmers: The Future of Agriculture in the Shadow of Corporate Power, edited by Jane W. Gibson and Sara E. Alexander, uses case studies of farmers to explore the tensions between conflicting views of the role of industrial agriculture.

Image: MaxPixel, Lamb eating, CC0 Public Domain
26 November 2018

A new method for monitoring nutrient concentrations in pasture in real time - using a small near-infrared spectroscopy device - could allow farmers to improve productivity by adjusting livestock grazing patterns, according to this paper.

19 November 2018

This book, edited by John Dixon et al., sets out different farming systems used across Africa and their relationships to food security.

Image: Stefan Walkowski, Antibiogram of Pseudomonas aeruginosa on Mueller-Hinton agar, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
19 November 2018

This paper describes the susceptibility of organisms such as bacteria to biocides such as antibiotics, insecticides and herbicide as a beneficial ecosystem service, since susceptible organisms can prevent the spread of biocide resistance by outcompeting resistant organisms (that is, in biocide-free environments). This framing is distinct from many other viewpoints, which focus on the negative costs of biocide resistance.

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