Showing results for: Governance and policy
Policy on food incorporates a wide range of direct legislation on, for example, food safety regulation, farming methods, chemical use, production techniques and packaging. Governance of the food system takes place at multiple levels from the international (e.g. international trade agreements) through to the local (e.g. local authority planning policies influencing the siting of food businesses). Governance can encompass both 'hard' and ‘soft’ measures. The former commonly refers to legislation involving mandatory standards, caps, or bans, and economic instruments such as taxes and subsidies. 'Softer' approaches are usually taken to include voluntary standards, encouragement of voluntary industry action, and public education campaigns. In addition to the state, non-state actors including corporations and nongovernmental organisations also make policies that influence the future direction of the food system. To achieve progress towards a more sustainable food system it is essential to have effective and joined up governance of the food system at multiple levels, and across geographic borders and sectors.
The UK government has released the first batch of its technical notices to advise businesses and individuals on how to prepare for the hypothetical scenario of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. The notices include some topics of relevance to the food system.
This book, written by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition and edited by Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank, discusses how the global food system can produce sustainable, healthy food for everyone. Topics include soil degradation, water use, barriers to accessing food, corporate influence on dietary choices, and food waste.
The New York-based Guarini Centre on Environmental, Energy and Land Use Law has released a report exploring the policies that US cities could use to reduce meat and dairy consumption. Three main categories of policy are proposed: informational (to raise public awareness of the health and climate implications of meat and dairy consumption), procurement policies for public institutions, and economic interventions to incentivise different purchasing patterns.
A recent paper argues that the global food system needs to become both more sustainable and more resilient to environmental and economic shocks. Defining resilience as “the resistance or rapid recovery of system interrelationships and functions after perturbation”, the paper points to existing examples of “undesirable” resilience, which inhibit the transformation of the food system to a more sustainable state.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the key ingredient in the plant-based burger created by Impossible Foods. Soy leghemoglobin, which releases a protein called heme that gives the burger its red colour and meat-like flavour, is made by Impossible Foods using genetically modified yeast. The FDA’s approval is based on the conclusions drawn by a panel of food safety experts and experimental data submitted by Impossible Foods.
The Trump administration has reversed a ban on using neonicotinoid pesticides (linked to declining bee populations) and genetically modified crops in over 50 national wildlife refuges (out of 560 total). Limited farming activity is permitted in some of the wildlife refuges. Previously, a blanket ban had prohibited the use of neonicotinoids and genetically modified crops in the wildlife refuges, but now decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
The University of Exeter’s Centre for Rural Policy Research has released the report “Changing food cultures: challenges and opportunities for UK agriculture”. The report gives an overview of how UK agriculture might be affected by future changes in the food system, such as health concerns or increases in purchases of ready-meals and snacks.
A carbon tax applied across the whole economy, including agriculture, could put more people at risk of hunger (in terms of dietary energy availability) than climate change itself, according to a recent paper.
A report by the Food Research Collaboration argues that the sustainability and security of Britain’s food supply would be put at risk by a hard Brexit or a no-deal Brexit, where the UK reverts to trading according to World Trade Organisation rules. The report points out that the UK imports 30% of its food from the EU, plus another 11% via trade deals negotiated between the EU and other countries. The report claims that the government may suspend food regulations if a no-deal Brexit happens, to minimise barriers to importing food. Furthermore, it criticises the UK government for neglecting the importance of retail and food service in the UK food system.
This book, by Ray A. Goldberg, provides the perspectives of people involved in shaping the global food system, including leaders in academia, nonprofits, public health, and the private and public sectors.
This paper surveys 195 cities in the United States and finds that the number of water conservation measures adopted in a city depend on both the climate (drier cities tend to have more water conservation measures than wetter cities) and political leanings (cities that lean towards the Democrats have more water conservation measures than Republican-leaning cities).
The US divisions of Danone, Mars, Nestle and Unilever have established the new Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, hoping to influence policymakers and regulators in five key areas: product transparency, nutrition, the environment, food safety and a positive workplace for food and agriculture workers. According to the Washington Post, the new alliance supports the reduction of salt in packaged foods and the introduction of “nutrition facts panels” to highlight sugar and calorie information (read more here).
The UK’s Food Research Collaboration initiative has released a briefing paper on the differences in animal welfare standards between the UK and its likely post-Brexit trading partners, such as the fact that antibiotic use in cattle is nine to sixteen times higher in the US than the UK, by weight of cattle. The report points out that welfare standards risk being weakened to help obtain trade deals, and recommends several measures to protect animal welfare after Brexit, including farmer subsidies for higher welfare standards, mandatory labelling to help consumers choose better welfare standards, and using public procurement policies to promote higher welfare.
US media organisation NPR discusses the tensions between housing developers and people who use vacant city plots for food production. Around 15% of land in US cities is classed as “vacant”. Urban farms on vacant land can be an important source of fresh food in some low-income neighbourhoods, but this can clash with the need for more housing. New York City council has passed an urban agriculture bill in an attempt to give urban farmers some control over how land is used.
Rob Bailey and Bernice Lee of UK think tank Chatham House have written a piece exploring food system trends, including rising food demand, plateauing yields in key crop production regions, global convergence on a diet dependent on calorie-dense but nutrient-poor crops and a lack of genetic diversity in staple crops. The authors conclude that current food system trends are unsustainable, saying, “The continued intensification and expansion of agriculture is a short-term coping strategy that will eventually lead to food-system collapse.” They call for interventions at key leverage points in the food system.
This book, by Johan Swinnen, examines the economic winners and losers of government interventions in the food system.