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This blog-post in The Economist, written by Sir Gordon Conway and Katy Wilson, describes their views on sustainable intensification. They argue that, to ensure food security in ways that maximise both agricultural output and the health of the environment and ecosystem, we need to redesign our innovation systems to aid multidisciplinary and collaborative research.
This is the first time that Korean foods are listed in the Ark of Taste, an international slow-food catalogue showing foods that are in danger of extinction. The new foods include seasoned beans, dwarf wheat, wild fowl, Hanson Lily and beef from cows raised on medicinal herbs. The listing is part of an attempt to highlight the risk of extinction of these foods and encourage people to protect them.
The debate on land sharing versus land sparing is ongoing and we addressed the issue somewhat in our Agroforestry interview a while back. This blog post by journalist and author Fred Pearce highlights some of the recent years’ debate and presents evidence from various parts of the world, either in favor of sparing or sharing land.
The UK’s Daily Mail reports that the UK supermarket Tesco will monitor the healthiness of its customers’ food purchases using Clubcard data and then use that data to suggest ways in which people could make healthier choices. Although plans are still in the early stages options considered so far include offering vouchers for healthier products and promoting a better diet via suggested recipes.
Due to Nepal’s large energy deficit where supply shortfalls and interrupted power affect both household and the national industry, the country is now looking for energy alternatives such as using its growing urban and industrial waste.
A new 90,000-square-foot indoor farm called FarmedHere has recently opened in Chicago and is expected to produce 1 million pounds a year of organic greens like basil, lettuce, mint, and spinach. It is also expected that it will provide hundreds of local jobs.
Bill Gates seems to have entered into the meat question. In his view it is simply not possible to feed 9 billion people on a high meat diet and the way forward is therefore the development of artificial meat and eggs.
The Norwegian pension fund GPFG, the largest in the world and worth US$710 billion, has pulled out of 23 palm oil companies in Indonesia and Malaysia which it judged to unsustainable. GPFG’s investments in the palm oil industry are now reduced by more than 40 per cent.
FCRN member David Freudberg, host of the National Public Radio series “Humankind,” has written a blog for The Huffington Post arguing that diet is rarely discussed as a way to mitigate climate change. He notes that the recommendations being made by climate scientists on how to lessen our carbon footprint are also the same as those being made by health experts – diets higher in fruits, vegetables, and grains, and lower in meat.
Russian authorities are considering a proposal put forward by the National Union of Consumers’ Rights Protection, which would tax high-fat products, as well as the use of antibiotics in meat production. The tax rate proposed is 10-20% for meat and dairy products with high cholesterol content. Russian authorities have reacted favourably to the proposed initiative, but there is fear that immediate adoption of the initiative could push meat prices to unpredictable levels, driving some manufacturers out of business.
Euractiv.com has posted an article detailing how some EU national governments and lawmakers are pushing to weaken green farming proposals in the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). With the economic crisis still lingering, there is more focus on boosting farm production to create jobs, and to address concerns about tighter food supplies and higher prices driven by worldwide droughts.
Continuing with this theme, EurActiv.com posted an article, “EU’s food imports pose ‘tricky balance’ for hungry Africans,” which discusses the difficulty of creating economic development and food security throughout Africa. A drought that hit East Africa in 2011 exposed this difficulty as European markets had plentiful supplies of African agricultural exports. In fact, the EU imports 40% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural exports.
There’s an interesting article in The Guardian about Sam Dryden, head of agriculture at the Gates Foundation.
A new 'Farm Platform' has been launched at Rothamsted Research North Wyke in Devon, aims to help farmers to optimise productivity in ways that are sustainable, whilst at the same time understanding the impact of farming methods on the environment.
The New Agriculturalist’s May 2012 issue focuses on ‘climate sustainable agriculture’ and features a number of smallholder projects focusing variously on soil carbon, rainwater harvesting, conservation agriculture and so forth.
Mexico is the second country in the world to have to have instituted legally binding targets on GHG emission reductions. The law mandates a reduction in CO2 emissions by 30% below business-as-usual levels by 2020, and by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050 (note that this is a relative target – the UK’s target is an absolute one)
This article in the Vancouver Sun looks at the work being done in Canada to promote local sourcing of foods in schools and hospitals - interesting to note parallel activities in different countries.
Aljazeera video series earthrise takes an upbeat look at ecological, scientific, technological and design projects all around the world, from a farm in Australia growing low impact crops using sea water and solar power, to an ingenious project that has dramatically cut rhino poaching on a South African game reserve.