Knowledge for better food systems

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22 July 2019

This opinion piece in The Hill by Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Centre for Biological Diversity, argues that the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (which is reviewing the guidelines for their 2020-2025 edition) is strongly influenced by the food industry and that the committee will not be allowed to conduct a full review of the evidence on questions such as food sustainability.

Image: Pxhere, Grass bird field, CC0 Public Domain
16 July 2019

This article in AgFunderNews explores how the “pasture-raised” label is used in poultry retail in the US. The label, which has not yet been officially defined by the USDA or the FDA, has attracted controversy from some food industry actors and animal welfare advocates, who say that some producers using the label do not have welfare standards as high as customers expect.

9 July 2019

Over 100 food organisations, including many supermarkets, have signed the “Step up to the Plate” pledge (organised by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to halve food waste by 2030, support a week of action in November 2019, empower citizens and change their individual habits so as to reduce food waste.

Image: Comidacomafeto, Burger veggie vegetarian, Pixabay, Pixabay License
9 July 2019

This opinion piece in YES! Magazine, written by Stephanie Feldstein (population and sustainability director at the Centre for Biological Diversity), uses the case of plant-based burgers to explore the tensions between personal environmental actions, industry actions and systemic change.

4 July 2019

A new a two-year interdisciplinary project research project, Rurban Revolution, will ask whether ruralising urban areas through greening and growing can create a healthy, sustainable and resilient food system. The project, based at Lancaster University, will be run by Jess Davies. Thanks to FCRN member Lael Walsh for bringing this project to our attention.

4 July 2019

The UK government has announced a year-long review of the food system, which will lead to a new National Food Strategy for England. As well as consulting experts and people working through the supply chain, the review process will include a Citizen’s Assembly (a form of sortition), where a representative set of randomly selected people will listen to the evidence, debate it and make suggestions for next steps.

Image: Chun-San, Tibet China Pigs, Pixabay, Pixabay License
25 June 2019

This blog post by Mia MacDonald of US think tank Brighter Green and Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary explains the African swine fever epidemic that is currently affecting China and Southeast Asia. Over 3 million pigs have already been killed by the disease or culled as a preventative measure. The disease has not yet been passed on to humans.

25 June 2019

The Oxford Martin School has helped to develop NaturEtrade, an online marketplace for ecosystems services. Landowners or managers can set a price that they would accept in return for keeping their land in its present ecological condition, rather than putting it to other uses that might degrade it. Buyers who want the land to remain unchanged, e.g. a business further downstream that wants to limit flooding, can enter into a contract with the landowner or manager.

Image: Graham Robson, Slurry lagoon north of Bays Leap Farm, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
17 June 2019

A joint investigation by the Guardian newspaper, Channel 4 News and the UK’s non-profit Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that halving ammonia emissions from farms in the UK could save thousands of lives each year. However, a loophole in regulations means that ammonia emissions from beef and dairy farms do not have to be monitored.

Image: Walter Baxter, A bottlenose dolphin at Spittal, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
11 June 2019

Following consultation with fishers and marine conservation experts, the UK government has created new Marine Conservation Zones around the English coast, taking the UK’s total protected areas of ocean to over twice the size of England. However, some critics question whether the protected areas are actually beneficial to wildlife.

3 June 2019

A jury-style event hosted by the UK’s Food Ethics Council finds that a meat tax is too simplistic. The event saw four “expert witnesses” give evidence on the impacts of meat and sugar taxes, the environmental impacts of grazing livestock, and the health impacts of consuming processed and ultra-processed meat.

3 June 2019

In this research note, the US-based Open Philanthropy Project discusses whether animal welfare might be helped or hindered by climate-focused reductions in meat consumption. For example, the note points out that meat types with a relatively low carbon footprint (e.g. chicken) are often from smaller animals (compared to, say, cows) and thus require more animals to be farmed and killed.

Image: USDA, Fruit bar pick, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
3 June 2019

Organic charity the Soil Association is calling for the UK government to introduce a mandatory meat-free day each week for school catering to tackle climate change and increase fibre intake, noting that few schools currently follow the voluntary plant-based day recommended by the current School Food Standards.

29 May 2019

Wageningen University and Research has formed a consortium together with several private companies to research the use of co-products and residues from the food sector and industry as animal feed. A particular research focus will be on increasing Europe’s self-sufficiency in feed materials.

Image: Naïo Technologies press kit, Robot DINO
29 May 2019

This feature in the New Food Economy explores how autonomous weed-picking robots could replace herbicides and tackle weeds that have become resistant to some herbicides. The robots use both GPS tracking and cameras to navigate fields and remove weeds.

Image: David Blaikie, New Zealand Cattle, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
13 May 2019

New Zealand has introduced a new bill that aims to bring emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. A separate target has been set for methane emissions from agriculture, with planned cuts of 10% by 2030 and 24% to 47% by 2050.

13 May 2019

The UK’s Food Research Collaboration (FRC) has launched a new blog series, “Brexit Briefings Update”. The series aims to revisit policy areas already covered by the FRC’s Food Brexit Briefings series of papers (on food policy issues linked to the UK’s upcoming departure from the European Union), covering any updates that have occurred since publication. The first post in the series is “Farm animal welfare in the UK: setting the bar higher”.

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