Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Food type

Different foods will have different consequences for greenhouse gas emissions, other environmental impacts and for health. This category contains links to research which analyses particular food groups including meat, fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates and dairy products.

23 June 2020

This report from the international non-profit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy examines the climate impacts of large dairy corporations. It finds that greenhouse gas emissions from the 13 largest dairy companies have increased by 11% over the last two years, alongside an 8% increase in milk production, and that none of these corporations has published plans to cut total emissions in their dairy supply chains. 

23 June 2020

FCRN member Susannah Fleiss is the lead author of this paper, which finds that setting aside areas of forest (conservation set-asides) within oil palm plantations plays a vital role in storing carbon and boosting rainforest biodiversity within plantations.

17 June 2020

NGO Greenpeace Brazil reports that some meat companies that have exported beef from Brazil to the UK, among other countries, have received cattle that have, for part of their life, been grazed on illegally deforested areas within the protected Ricardo Franco State Park. Greenpeace describes the process as “cattle laundering” because the cattle are sent to other farms (not linked to illegal deforestation) later in their life, to hide the links to deforestation.

17 June 2020

According to this paper, participants in a survey of 193 Dutch citizens were more likely to view cultured meat favourably after they were given information about its purported benefits, compared to before they were given information. Most participants were willing to pay a premium of 37%, on average, for cultured meat over conventional meat.

9 June 2020

This blog post from US think tank The Breakthrough Institute examines uncertainties around the environmental impacts of cultured meat. It points out that estimates of the carbon footprint of cultured meat are highly variable, and that the impacts of switching to cultured meat depend on what it is replacing in the diet (e.g. beef, poultry, plant-based meats or tofu).

9 June 2020

This working paper from the World Resources Institute compares the carbon footprint of dairy from 13 different countries and pork from 11 countries. It uses a carbon opportunity cost approach to carbon footprinting, i.e. it accounts for carbon that is not stored in vegetation or soils because the land is being used to produce dairy or pork. 

26 May 2020

This paper reviews the environmental, economic and social consequences of the oil palm boom. It finds that palm oil has increased incomes, generated employment and reduced poverty at the same time as causing deforestation and biodiversity loss. It discusses policy options to reduce the tradeoffs between environmental protection and economic benefits.

19 May 2020

This blog post John Lynch of Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People programme asks whether we can keep farming cows and sheep without dangerously warming the planet. He points out that it is possible to maintain stable temperatures without eliminating methane emissions entirely (in contrast to CO2 where emissions have to fall to net zero to tackle climate change). However, ruminant methane emissions are currently increasing. Furthermore, ruminants use a lot of land, some of which could be used for other purposes that might sequester more carbon.

19 May 2020

This report from US thinktank The Breakthrough Institute lays out the economic and environmental case for expanding federal support for alternative protein research and industry expansion. COVID-19 is not only impacting the meat processing industry - many alternative protein startups are also closed or threatened by declines in investment funding. The report estimates that the alternative protein industry could generate over 200,000 US jobs in the long-term, but only if the government provides support to the nascent industry to ensure it does not collapse because of COVID-19. Support might include small business innovation programmes, loan guarantees, and research and development programmes.

5 May 2020

This opinion piece by Liz Specht of the US Good Food Institute argues that taking animals out of the global food system - for example by replacing animal products with plant-based or cultivated meat products - can reduce the risk of future pandemics. Specht notes that zoonotic diseases usually pass to humans during the hunting or slaughter of wild animals or livestock.

5 May 2020

This report from UK food waste organisation Feedback makes a case for the end of industrial animal agriculture and calls for divestment from large livestock companies, arguing that the business model of “Big Livestock” is incompatible with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

7 April 2020

The Good Food Institute (US-based non-profit) has launched a database of funding opportunities in the alternative protein space, including opportunities related to plant-based proteins, cellular agriculture and proteins derived from fermentation. 

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. 

16 March 2020

The Florida-based Cellular Agriculture Society has just relaunched its website with the aim of building a home for cellular agriculture on the internet. The website sets out a vision of what a future with cellular agriculture could look like, and explains how the processes of tissue culture and protein fermentation work. 

16 March 2020

FCRN member Margareta Lelea of the German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture (DITSL) has co-authored this paper, which uses the example of the pineapple supply chain in Uganda to argue that efforts to reduce post-harvest losses often neglect the uses of waste streams by local people.

10 March 2020

The Cultivated Meat Modeling Consortium, an interdisciplinary group applying computing techniques to the cultivated meat sector, has released a white paper based on the Consortium’s first meeting. The paper sets out ways in which modelling might be able to optimise cultivated meat manufacturing, including assessing different bioreactor designs, designing experiments with different growth media, and generating databases of the characteristics of the cell types (e.g. animal species) that are most likely to be used in cultivated meat.

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). 

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