Several climate tipping points, which could lead to a cascade of sudden warming effects, may already be in action or be close to being triggered - but the authors argue that cutting emissions can still help to slow down the rate at which the feedback loops operate. Meanwhile, a study outlines Twitter reactions to the EAT-Lancet diet, focusing on the #yes2meat movement; neonicotinoid insecticides could disrupt fishery yields in lakes; the top ten UK supermarkets sold around 54 “bags for life” for each UK household over the past year; and 25% of British 18 year olds are either vegan or vegetarian, finds a survey by Eating Better.
Tara Garnett discusses livestock on BBC’s The Food Programme
The FCRN’s Tara Garnett appeared on The Food Programme by BBC Radio 4 in the episode “Eating Animals Part 2: A Meat Q&A”, alongside Patrick Holden of The Sustainable Food Trust and writer and environmental campaigner George Monbiot.
A “Half Earth” conservation strategy where half of the Earth’s land is set aside to ecosystem protection could directly impact at least one billion people; if Europe is to meet afforestation targets for climate mitigation, it is likely that meat consumption will have to fall or farming yields will have to increase significantly; FCRN member Anna Birgitte Milford reports on a case study of a proposed rooftop greenhouse in Bergen, Norway; and FCRN member Corné van Dooren finds that food waste per person in Dutch households has decreased by 29% between 2010 and 2019.
The EAT-Lancet diet, proposed on the grounds of health and sustainability, is too expensive for at least 1.6 billion people; a commentary piece argues that there are sound reasons for building soil carbon, for example to restore soil fertility, which have been obscured by controversies over whether building soil carbon can mitigate climate change; the Food Research Collaboration offers guidance to operators of food hubs; and End Hunger UK sets out seven reasons to tackle food insecurity in the UK.
Blog post: Distancing death - slaughter, welfare and consumption in the British halal meat industry In the latest FCRN blog post, PhD student Hibba Mazhary outlines her research plans on meat consumption and production in the British halal meat sector, including consumer motivations and the relationship that consumers have with animal death. Read the blog post here.
In Fodder this week: Abandoned or lost fishing gear accounts for 10% of ocean plastic, harms marine wildlife and endangers ships, according to a report from Greenpeace; landlocked countries are often at greater risk of food insecurity during extreme weather events than coastal countries; a paper defines hyper-palatable foods; and growing palm oil with less fertiliser and herbicide could be both ecologically beneficial and economically viable.
A paper from Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People project finds that many of the foods that would support better health could also contribute to reduced environmental impacts. Farmland use is likely to change in the UK if climate change is not mitigated, with the south east becoming drier and requiring more irrigation. The Food Research Collaboration sets out best practices in engaging with convenience store operators to offer more healthy food options.
In Fodder this week: Mixtures of pesticides, commonly found in foods and soils in the UK, could be significantly more harmful than their individual components. A paper sets out an ambitious roadmap for how the land sector could help in meeting the 1.5°C climate goal. Two books look at African agriculture, arguing for sustainable intensification and the use of wireless sensor networks. Finally, switching all food production in England and Wales to organic agriculture would probably increase emissions from overseas agriculture, due to lower yields in the UK.
Last week, we published all Foodsource Building Blocks as PDFs, making them easier to share with others, store on your computer, or use for educational and discussion purposes. Building blocks provide accessible, peer-reviewed introductions to the most important concepts, debates and contestations around food system sustainability. A button to download the PDF version is available at the top of each individual Building Block.
In Fodder this week
Solving sustainability challenges linked to nitrogen fertilisers could have many co-benefits, such as improving access to food and protecting human health. A “jury” at a Food Ethics Council event concluded that packaging on unhealthy food and drink should be more closely regulated, but that introducing plain packaging (as for cigarette packages) is unlikely to be beneficial if implemented as a standalone measure. Meanwhile, a paper argues that the “blue economy”, e.g. fishing, aquaculture and tourism, should be carefully managed to promote both environmental sustainability and social equity.
A controversial series of review papers advises adults to continue current levels of red and processed meat consumption. The recommendations do not incorporate environmental or ethical concerns. Meanwhile, some areas of China and India are hotspots for antimicrobial resistance in livestock; the Food Ethics Council calls for people to think of themselves as “food citizens”, not just consumers or producers; and an open letter from the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission urges the UK government to consider the environmental implications of any future trade deals.
In the latest FCRN blog post, our founder Tara Garnett examines why the word "veganism" has become a difficult, uncomfortable or dirty word to some environmentalists. She traces how perceptions of veganism have changed over the past couple of decades, noting that veganism's recent surge in popularity has given rise to a backlash whereby veganism is seen (by some) to be linked to intensive arable monocultures, an industrialised food system and alienation from nature. Read the blog post here.
In Fodder this week: A paper models several diets and finds that vegan, two-thirds vegan or “low food chain” diets would, in most countries, lead to greater reductions in carbon and water footprints than lacto-ovo-vegetarian or low red meat diets. Meanwhile, ending hunger without further endangering the environment will probably require tackling overconsumption and food waste in addition to increasing agricultural yields.
The IPCC report on oceans and frozen landscapes shows that ocean warming could increase human exposure to health hazards from seafood, while Feedback has ranked UK supermarkets on their efforts to promote “less and better” meat.
In Fodder this week: The UK’s National Farmers Union has set out its plans for making agriculture in England and Wales net zero by 2040 via approaches that include improved production efficiency, carbon capture through land management, and bioenergy. Meanwhile, the Food Research Collaboration has published two new Brexit briefing papers: one on the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food flows across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; and one on whether food standards in the UK are likely to be lowered as a result of post-Brexit trade deals.