Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Sustainable food security

18 September 2018

This upcoming book, edited by Atanu Sarkar, Suman Ranjan Sensharma and Gary W. vanLoon, brings together examples of technological solutions and governance frameworks for sustainable food security.

18 September 2018

In a write-up of a meeting of its Business Forum, the Food Ethics Council asks whether the concept of “ethical consumerism” is adequate for addressing food system sustainability issues. The report points out that “ethical” can have many different meanings, that businesses can lack a cohesive sustainability strategy if they are too responsive to current trends on consumer concern, that focusing on consumers can neglect systemic problem, and that not all people can afford to prioritise ethical concerns when buying food. The report also offers some recommendations to businesses.

20 August 2018

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.

Image: C.G. Newhall, Pyroclastic flows at Mayon Volcano, Philippines, 1984, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
20 August 2018

A recent paper uses data from volcanic eruptions to estimate the effects that geoengineering with sulphate aerosols would have on agricultural production. It concludes that the damage that geoengineering would do to maize, soy, rice and wheat outputs (because of reduction in sunlight reaching the crops) would have roughly the same magnitude as the benefits of the cooling it would provide.

Image: Pxhere, Flower city meal, CC0 Public Domain
20 August 2018

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.

31 July 2018

This book, by Ramesh Ray and S Ramachandran, presents technological interventions in ethanol production from food crops, addresses food security issues arising from bioethanol production and identifies development bottlenecks.

Image: Balaram Mahalder, Maize, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
24 July 2018

As global mean temperature rises due to climate change, the chance of multiple shocks in maize production occurring at the same time rises, due to greater variability in yields. The top four maize-producing countries are United States, China, Brazil, and Argentina. The chance of all four suffering a yield loss of more than 10% in the same year is presently almost zero, but rises to 6% for 2°C of warming and 87% for 4°C of warming. The study does not account for changing variability in temperature (only the increase in mean temperature), nor any gains from breeding heat-tolerant maize varieties.

Image: Bicanski, Organic apple fruits on tree, Pixnio, CC0 Public domain
24 July 2018

This review paper reports that organic agriculture has lower yields than conventional agriculture, by 19-25% on average across all crops, according to three meta-analyses. Lower yields may be due to the lack of use of synthetic fertilisers - organic systems are often limited by low levels of nitrogen or phosphorus - and higher susceptibility to pest outbreaks. Widespread uptake of organic farming (to produce the same amounts of output as today) would probably require some conversion of natural habitats to farmland, because of this lower land-use efficiency compared to conventional agriculture - an important consideration, as the area of certified organic production has increased from 15 million ha in 2000 to 51 million ha in 2015 (although this is only 1% of agricultural land).

10 July 2018

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre has published a new World Atlas of Desertification, which provides maps of different factors relevant to desertification such as land use, human appropriation of biological productivity, virtual water use, smallholder agriculture and livestock production.

Image: rawpixel.com, Beverage bottle bubble, Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain
10 July 2018

Disruptions to supplies of food-grade CO2 in Europe are causing shortages of carbonated drinks, meat and crumpets, and could threaten animal welfare. Gasworld explains that several European CO2 plants have prolonged their periods of maintenance downtime due to low CO2 prices (read more here).

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: 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.

26 May 2018

The European Public Health Alliance have published a study of ten EU policies on sustainable food and farming. The report finds that the policies lack a systemic perspective and are particularly weak on the health, governance and resilience aspects of sustainability. The report recommends a mix of supply- and demand-side interventions and points out the importance of considering the “food environment” when devising policies.

15 May 2018

The Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) has launched a weekly review of food sustainability news, as well as fortnightly in-depth analyses of specific themes such as women farmers and global water management.

9 May 2018

This book by Graham Riches investigates the root causes of hunger in developed countries and questions the acceptance of food banks as an appropriate response.

10 April 2018

This book, by agronomist and political scientist Marie-Hélène Schwoob, provides a multidisciplinary overview of China’s farming and food issues and presents the results of the author’s fieldwork.

1 February 2018

This report by researchers at Wageningen University considers current food policies and practices in the EU, as well as the potential for change in the future.

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