Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Theory, methods and tools

There are different ways to analyse and evaluate impacts from food production and consumption. This section highlights papers that introduce specific methodologies, tools and theories that can be used as a guide or reference when developing a research or policy approach.

19 May 2020

FCRN member Erasmus zu Ermgassen has co-authored this paper, which calculates variations in the carbon footprint of soy products grown in different regions of Brazil. It finds that soy from certain areas associated with loss of natural vegetation has a carbon footprint per unit of product six times higher than the average carbon footprint of Brazilian soy. It also finds that soy products imported by the European Union are more likely to be from regions linked to deforestation than soy exported from Brazil to other places, such as China.

12 May 2020

This blog post by Caroline Grunewald of US think tank The Breakthrough Institute argues that a global food system offers greater resilience against local production failures than a local food system, contrary to narratives that the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the fragile nature of the global food system and that local food systems are more resilient.

12 May 2020

This book discusses long-term experiments in agriculture, including their history, the insights they have produced, and the relationship of the experiments to agriculture’s environmental and social implications.

12 May 2020

This report from the UK’s Food Ethics Council reviews the electoral manifestos of the Conservative, Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat parties in 2015 and 2019 to see how each party’s food policies have changed over time.

12 May 2020

This opinion paper calls for organisers of scientific meetings to adhere to 12 principles to minimise the environmental impacts of the meetings, as outlined in the Cercedilla Manifesto. The principles cover food, transport and careful planning of remote meetings so that they are effective for all participants. The paper emphasises that nitrogen pollution is an often-neglected aspect of food sustainability.

12 May 2020

This paper examines the effectiveness of different forms of ecological compensation schemes - i.e. offsetting biodiversity lost to developments such as oil palm plantations or mines - in achieving “No Net Loss” of biodiversity. Using simulations of four case studies, it finds that none of the 18 ecological compensation policy designs studied would achieve No Net Loss of native vegetation extent. 

5 May 2020

This report describes the potential economic and environmental benefits of funding the national maintenance backlog for agricultural research facilities in the US as part of government responses to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report is from US thinktank The Breakthrough Institute and is co-authored by FCRN member Dan Blaustein-Rejto.

5 May 2020

This report from UK food waste organisation Feedback makes a case for the end of industrial animal agriculture and calls for divestment from large livestock companies, arguing that the business model of “Big Livestock” is incompatible with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

5 May 2020

This paper by FCRN member Daniel Tan finds that bioethanol derived from agave grown in semi-arid areas of Australia could have lower environmental impacts than biofuels derived from US corn and Brazilian sugarcane. Agave is widely grown in Mexico to make the alcoholic drink tequila. 

29 April 2020

This report from the International Institute for Environment and Development explores the potential to use “biocredits” to protect biodiversity. Biocredits are an economic instrument that allows the creation and trade of “biodiversity units”. Biocredits would be bought by people or institutions that want to invest in protecting biodiversity, and the money from their initial sale would fund conservation activities that increase biodiversity above a baseline level. The report distinguishes between biocredits and biodiversity offsets, which are used to compensate for habitats that have been destroyed, e.g. because of construction projects.

29 April 2020

This report from UK group Beyond GM (directed by FCRN member Pat Thomas) presents the results of a world café held in September 2019. The world café brought together people representing a wide variety of practices, beliefs and views on the subject of genome editing in plant breeding, and the conversation covered values, worldviews, ethics, regulation, citizen engagement and more.

29 April 2020

This report from US thinktank The Breakthrough Institute, co-authored by FCRN member Dan Blaustein-Rejto, outlines over $500 billion in potential federal spending that could lower emissions, be included in upcoming post-COVID stimulus investments and has already been vetted and earned bipartisan support in Congress. The brief proposes an agricultural research funding increase, research facility maintenance, and biomethane tax credits in addition to many proposals regarding energy innovation and infrastructure.

29 April 2020

This report by Science Advice for Policy by European Academies sets out evidence on effective policies for sustainably transforming the European food system in an inclusive, just and timely way. It concludes that the complexity of food systems means that transformations rely on coordinated action between many actors, including different levels of governance.

29 April 2020

This paper by FCRN member Dominic Moran evaluates Farming for a Better Climate, a participatory extension programme (PEP) in Scotland that assists farmers in adopting climate friendly farming practices. PEPs are a type of advisory service where farmers, researchers and rural experts can swap information. The authors aimed to fill a research gap, since no other evaluations of PEPs for climate friendly farming existed at the time the paper was written. 

29 April 2020

This paper studies the relationship between food system drivers and sustainability for a sample of low-, middle- and high-income countries. The aim of the research is to provide a clearer understanding of what drives food system sustainability, in order to better target interventions and investments to transform the food system.

29 April 2020

This paper models the production of six food crops, and finds that only 11-28% of the world’s population (depending on crop) would be able to meet their demands for those crops by using only food produced within a 100 km radius, based on current production and consumption patterns. The aim of the paper is to assess the physical constraints that limit the extent to which food supply can become localised and thus inform the ongoing debates around local food and food sovereignty.

7 April 2020

This blog post by John Lynch of the Oxford Livestock, Environment and People programme explains how GWP* can be used to describe the warming effect of both short- and long-lived greenhouse gases, particularly when applied to livestock.

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