Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Intensive/confined systems

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.

Image: Max Pixel, Harvest farm, CC0 Public Domain
10 July 2018

A new paper reviews evidence on agricultural intensification in low- and middle-income countries and concludes that intensification rarely leads to both environmental and social benefits. Only 17% of the case studies were found to have win-win outcomes. The paper finds that the two outcome categories most frequently reported in the literature are food production and income, and that these outcomes are the most likely to be positive (at 52% and 68%, respectively). Other outcomes, such as for various ecosystems service indicators, are less frequently reported and are less likely to have positive outcomes.

Image: United Soybean Board, Corn Harvest, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
12 March 2018

This article explains the technological changes behind the three-fold increase in global crop production between 1961 and 2014, i.e. since the Green Revolution. It examines the 58 countries that are responsible for 95% of food production and assesses the impacts of changes in land use, inputs and efficiency.

20 February 2018

This report, edited by the World Bank, reviews the literature to explore the sources and impacts of agricultural pollution in East Asia and propose solutions.

Photo: MIKI Yoshihito, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
13 January 2018

This article in the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) journal examines NGOs’ opposition to agricultural biotechnologies. It finds that opposition to genome editing cannot be dismissed as being solely emotional or dogmatic, as is often asserted by the scientific molecular biology community (see for example this 2016 letter by 107 Nobel Laureates calling NGO action against GM a "crime against humanity”). Instead, opposition to genome editing among research participants was rooted in three areas of scepticism around the framing of food security problems and the proposed solutions.

12 April 2017

This Data Science Insights talk hosted by Thomson Reuters sees presentations from Professor Nilay Shah from Imperial College, Judith Batchelar, Director of Brand at UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, and Derek Scuffell, Head of R&D Information Systems at Syngenta, who share insights on how their supply chains are driven by data.  They discuss how advances in genetically modified foods and in agricultural technology could help prevent food shortages and price fluctuations and help the world feed itself by 2025.

10 January 2017

This report, entitled ‘What’s at Steak? The Real Cost of Meat’ published by the Global Forest Coalition in December 2016, emphasises the negative impact of industrial livestock production on forests, using five detailed case studies, in BoliviaBrazilIndiaParaguay, and Russia. In South America, for example, the report states that 71% of deforestation in the region has been driven by demand for livestock products.

Photo: Joshua Rappeneker, Beef, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
11 October 2016

An academic debate on the controversial possibility of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions via increased beef production in the Brazilian Cerrado finds a new set of commentators, who have responded to an original paper by de Oliveira Silva et al. earlier in 2016 in the same journal, Nature Climate Change.

9 June 2016

The iPES food panel (International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems), has published a report reviewing the latest evidence on benefits and challenges with different production models, specifically looking at the industrial agriculture and agroecological farming systems. It argues that there are eight key reasons why industrial agriculture is locked in place despite its negative impacts; and it maps out a series of steps to break these cycles and shift towards expanding agroecological farming.

10 March 2016

In their two-part contribution to the Livestock debate on the website of Arc2020 (the agricultural and rural convention), the IPES representatives Olivier de Schutter, Hans Herren and Emile Frison discuss the environmental footprint of livestock, the need for livestock farming to be reintegrated into landscapes and the flaws in the current factory farming model; and they propose ways to address the challenges posed by industrial livestock systems.

31 July 2015

These two articles in Foreign Policy discuss the role of power and agency to solve our global water and food problems. In the first article “Don’t Let Food Be the Problem - Producing too much food is what starves the planet” Professor Olivier De Schutter reflects on lessons learnt during his work over the past 6 years as UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food. He argues that international action cannot solve the food crises without local responses. He writes “These interconnected systems of overproduction won’t feed the world.

29 January 2015

Sentience Mosaic hosts live online debates where a variety of topics related to animal sentience are discussed.

The description of the event was as follows: “Livestock production is responsible for a large proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, livestock related gas emissions are expected to increase rapidly in coming years if no action is taken. Some propose that further intensification of animal production, in order to increase yield per animal, is the answer to reducing gas emissions. However, many argue that this is unethical and is not a solution.