Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Environmental impact assessments

11 November 2019

This book explores different indicators that are used to assess the sustainability of food systems and how projects using these metrics can affect communities and policies.

Image: Ella Olsson, Variety of vegetables, Pexels, Pexels Licence
4 November 2019

This paper from researchers at Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) project considers the health and environmental impacts of consuming an extra portion per day of 15 different foods. For many of the foods, those with beneficial health impacts also have lower environmental impacts, while many of those with greater environmental impacts also have greater disease risk.

Image: Marco Verch, A glass of fresh orange juice with fruit oranges, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
16 July 2019

FCRN member Ujué Fresán has co-authored this paper, which calculates the environmental impacts associated with the packaging of several breakfast foods (including orange juice, cereals and peanut butter). For each food product, significant differences in carbon footprint were found, depending on packaging size, packaging materials and brand. Packaging consistently accounted for a lower carbon footprint than production of the food item itself.

Image: Max Pixel, Agriculture Cows Cow, CC0 Public Domain
20 March 2019

In this paper, FCRN member Nicholas Bowles of the University of Melbourne reviews existing data on the environmental impacts of the livestock sector and considers these impacts in the context of planetary boundaries. The paper reports that efficiency alone is unlikely to be adequate to shrink livestock’s impacts to a sustainable level, and that dietary shifts will also be necessary.

Image: USAF, AEHF (Advanced Extremely High Frequency) Satellite, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
26 February 2019

The 2019 Green Alliance Annual Debate discusses the ways in which earth observation and data science can improve our understanding of and ability to address environmental issues - for example, monitoring deforestation or water levels in reservoirs in real time through satellite images.

Image: Nadya Peek, Solar cooker, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
11 February 2019

Using home-made solar cookers instead of microwaves could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and electricity use as well as enhance social well-being and motivate people to behave more sustainably, according to this paper, which considers Spain as an example.

Image: Pxhere, farm barn food, CC0 Public Domain
11 February 2019

This life cycle assessment of beef cattle production in the United States calculates greenhouse gas emissions, fossil energy use, blue water consumption and reactive nitrogen loss per kg of carcass weight.

3 December 2018

In this report, the Food Ethics Council analyses the 2018 Food Sustainability Index (view interactive graphics here), which ranked the UK 16th out of 28 European Union countries and 24th out of 67 countries when averaged across a range of food sustainability indicators.

22 October 2018

The report “Transformation is feasible - How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals within Planetary Boundaries”, produced by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, identifies five measures to reach the most Sustainable Development Goals within the planetary boundaries.

8 October 2018

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has published guidelines for the assessment of nutrient flows and their associated environmental impacts in livestock supply chains. The guidelines are aimed at people and organisations who already have a good working knowledge of life cycle assessment of livestock systems, and are intended to promote consistency through defining calculation methods and data requirements.

2 October 2018

This book, edited by Shakeel Ahmed, showcases the latest research and applications in bio-based food packaging materials.

Image: Pxhere, Grass farm animal, CC0 Public Domain
2 October 2018

Relatively intensive, high-yield farming systems often have lower environmental impacts per unit of product, according to a new paper. The paper used a new framework to measure both land use and major environmental externalities (greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and nitrogen, phosphorus and soil losses) for several different farming systems.

12 September 2018

This book, edited by Subramanian Senthilkannan Muthu, examines the development and implementation of a variety of indicators of sustainability for the food system.

Image: Arkansas Highways, I-530 mirage, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
31 July 2018

Researchers from the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute (of which the FCRN is part) have created a new tool - the “temperature of equivalence” - to map the impacts of varying degrees of climate change in different areas. They find that people living in low-income countries will, on average, experience heat extremes at 1.5°C of (global average) warming that people living high-income countries will not encounter until 3°C. This result is based on combining a map of predicted heat extremes with information on where people actually live within these areas. The paper also finds that, on average, people in high-income countries would experience the same increase in extreme rainfall after 1.0°C of warming that people in low-income countries would experience at 1.5°C of warming.

11 June 2018

TEEBAgriFood, part of the UN Environment initiative The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, has released a report on the environmental, health and social costs and benefits of the agriculture and food system. It finds that the food system does not keep everyone healthy or protect the environment. It calls for a reform in how we measure food system performance, because relying on yield per hectare and market prices neglects other costs such as food-borne disease and environmental degradation.

Image: Scott Bauer, Researchers examining wheat in a field, Free Stock Photos, Public domain
26 May 2018

In this IFSTAL blog post, Harley Pope of the University of Reading addresses some of the challenges of thinking about food systems that are too complex for any one person to understand fully.

Image: Julie, Apples, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
26 May 2018

FCRN member Elinor Hallström of the Research Institute of Sweden has authored a systematic review paper on how dietary quality scores are used in environmental sustainability assessment of food. The paper identifies two broad types of dietary quality scores and four different approaches to integrating nutritional and environmental assessments. It finds that both the type of dietary quality score and the way it is combined with environmental assessments can make a difference to which foods appear more sustainable.

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