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Bill Gates seems to have entered into the meat question. In his view it is simply not possible to feed 9 billion people on a high meat diet and the way forward is therefore the development of artificial meat and eggs.
The Norwegian pension fund GPFG, the largest in the world and worth US$710 billion, has pulled out of 23 palm oil companies in Indonesia and Malaysia which it judged to unsustainable. GPFG’s investments in the palm oil industry are now reduced by more than 40 per cent.
FCRN member David Freudberg, host of the National Public Radio series “Humankind,” has written a blog for The Huffington Post arguing that diet is rarely discussed as a way to mitigate climate change. He notes that the recommendations being made by climate scientists on how to lessen our carbon footprint are also the same as those being made by health experts – diets higher in fruits, vegetables, and grains, and lower in meat.
Russian authorities are considering a proposal put forward by the National Union of Consumers’ Rights Protection, which would tax high-fat products, as well as the use of antibiotics in meat production. The tax rate proposed is 10-20% for meat and dairy products with high cholesterol content. Russian authorities have reacted favourably to the proposed initiative, but there is fear that immediate adoption of the initiative could push meat prices to unpredictable levels, driving some manufacturers out of business.
Euractiv.com has posted an article detailing how some EU national governments and lawmakers are pushing to weaken green farming proposals in the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). With the economic crisis still lingering, there is more focus on boosting farm production to create jobs, and to address concerns about tighter food supplies and higher prices driven by worldwide droughts.
Continuing with this theme, EurActiv.com posted an article, “EU’s food imports pose ‘tricky balance’ for hungry Africans,” which discusses the difficulty of creating economic development and food security throughout Africa. A drought that hit East Africa in 2011 exposed this difficulty as European markets had plentiful supplies of African agricultural exports. In fact, the EU imports 40% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural exports.
There’s an interesting article in The Guardian about Sam Dryden, head of agriculture at the Gates Foundation.
A new 'Farm Platform' has been launched at Rothamsted Research North Wyke in Devon, aims to help farmers to optimise productivity in ways that are sustainable, whilst at the same time understanding the impact of farming methods on the environment.
The New Agriculturalist’s May 2012 issue focuses on ‘climate sustainable agriculture’ and features a number of smallholder projects focusing variously on soil carbon, rainwater harvesting, conservation agriculture and so forth.
Mexico is the second country in the world to have to have instituted legally binding targets on GHG emission reductions. The law mandates a reduction in CO2 emissions by 30% below business-as-usual levels by 2020, and by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050 (note that this is a relative target – the UK’s target is an absolute one)
This article in the Vancouver Sun looks at the work being done in Canada to promote local sourcing of foods in schools and hospitals - interesting to note parallel activities in different countries.
Aljazeera video series earthrise takes an upbeat look at ecological, scientific, technological and design projects all around the world, from a farm in Australia growing low impact crops using sea water and solar power, to an ingenious project that has dramatically cut rhino poaching on a South African game reserve.
This article in Science Daily is based on materials prepared by the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) It argues that Brazil’s reliance on agricultural exports to drive economic growth is environmentally unsustainable and highlights the link between deforestation for cattle grazing, soy production on cleared land which pushes cattle further into the forest, and the sale of high-value timber. The article states that government controls introduced from the year 2000 have scaled down deforestation from around 20,000 to 6,000 km² per year, but the threat of an increase in world demand is always just over the horizon, with implications for further deforestation.
The British Retail Consortium has published its annual environmental progress report.
France’s Constitutional Council has approved a tax on sugary drinks. The tax, which works out to one euro cent per can of drink, is expected to bring in 120 million euros ($156 million) in state revenues.
An article in Foodnavigator suggests that smart barcodes will replace eco labels, as they have the potential to provide shoppers with a far greater amount of information than a pack label can.
This is an interesting article about a farmer’s attempt to improve the sustainability of the farm by basing production on a dual purpose dairy/beef breed, based on grass-feeding, high welfare and zero waste.
For analysis and commentary on the outcome from Durban, you may want to have a look at the following links – we're copying many of them from Carbon Brief’s always useful and interesting daily e-newsletter: see here for more http://www.carbonbrief.org/