Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Issues

Food is a nodal point for multiple interconnected issues and concerns. The categories below highlight a few of the most critical, including food security and nutrition, water, governance and policy, and health issues.

9 October 2019

In an open letter, the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission urges the Secretaries of State in several UK government departments (including Defra, International Trade, Health, Business, and International Development) to consider the environmental implications of any future trade deals, in particular to avoid “offshoring” impacts to countries with weaker environmental standards.

9 October 2019

This book presents case studies and guidance on extracting high-value compounds from waste and by-products from foods such as dairy, meat, sweet potato, cereals and olive oil.

9 October 2019

This book examines how people can be exposed to arsenic through drinking water and different types of food in several areas of the world, and sets out some strategies to reduce arsenic accumulation in rice.

9 October 2019

This report from Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) (a London-based investor initiative focused on the environmental, social and ethical issues of factory farming) estimates that the global meat substitute market is worth almost $20 billion and is predicted to grow by 7-9% annually. 

9 October 2019

This report from environmental NGO Friends of the Earth US outlines the health, environmental, ethical and consumer concerns associated with research into genetically engineered livestock. It notes that gene editing can lead to unintended effects, such as unintended modification of portions of DNA, enlarged tongues in rabbits, extra vertebrae in pigs, and novel proteins produced in error (which could result in allergic reactions).

Image: focusonpc, Carne cibo, Pixabay, Pixabay License
8 October 2019

A series of review papers on the health effects of consumption of red and processed meat has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Based on the reviews, the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium (an independent group including several of the authors of the review papers; members of the panel had no “financial or intellectual” conflicts of interest during the past three years) recommends that adults should continue to eat current levels of both red meat and processed meat.

Image: Waldo93, pollo gallina pollame, Pixabay, Pixabay License
8 October 2019

This review paper finds that the number of bacterial strains that are resistant to antimicrobials is increasing in both pigs and chickens. The paper synthesises hundreds of studies from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to develop maps of antimicrobial resistance. Hotspots of antimicrobial resistance are found in India and China, with resistance also developing in Brazil and Kenya.

2 October 2019

An audio recording of the 2019 Mansholt Lecture, organised by Wageningen University & Research, is available. The lecture, which took place on 18 September 2019, discussed the challenges of future protein production and consumption, including protein from plants, animals and microorganisms.

2 October 2019

This book by Julian Cribb examines the links between food, conflict, hunger and ecological collapse, and develops recommendations for how to build a sustainable global food system that defuses tensions and avoids the mass displacement of people.

2 October 2019

This report from the UK charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) provides the latest estimates for food losses and food waste in primary production (i.e. on farms) in the UK. It finds that 3% of food harvested is wasted at the farm stage (sent to waste treatment such as composting without first being used for another purpose, or left in the field) and 4% is surplus (material intended for food uses that ends up being redistributed to people, fed to animals or used for other purposes), making a total of 7%.

2 October 2019

This report from the Food and Land Use Coalition proposes ten critical transitions that could enable the food system to provide healthy diets for nine billion people by 2050 while also protecting the climate and biodiversity. The transitions are estimated to provide over 15 times more social benefit than their investment cost, which is likely to be less than 0.5% of global GDP.

2 October 2019

This joint report from A Bigger Conversation and Compassion in World Farming details a roundtable that took place in London in June 2019, where scientists, ethicists, vets, academics, faith groups and policymakers discussed the issues associated with gene-edited livestock.

2 October 2019

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published a special report reviewing the impacts of climate change on the oceans and cryosphere (ice gaps, glaciers and frozen ground), incorporating evidence that has been published since the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. It finds that climate change has shrunk ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice as well as heated permafrost (ground that normally remains frozen all year).

Image: Max Pixel, Lamb Rosemary Eat Lamb Chop, CC0 Public Domain
2 October 2019

FCRN member Anna Birgitte Milford of the NIBIO (Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research) has co-authored this paper, which studies the impact of various variables on meat total meat and ruminant meat consumption levels (both total and ruminant) in 137 countries. The paper assesses factors which had previously not been used together in similar analyses, including economic, cultural and natural factors (e.g. land availability and climate).

Image: USDA NRCS Montana, Soil moisture meter is used to measure soil moisture, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
2 October 2019

FCRN member Susanne Freidberg of Dartmouth College has written this paper about the difficulties that companies such as food manufacturers face in gathering data about their food supply chains and using that data to promote sustainability. The paper is based on over fifty semi-structured interviews with companies and analysis of their data collection tools.

Image: Max Pixel, Agriculture Tractor Arable, CC0 Public Domain
2 October 2019

This paper explores ways of ending hunger without causing excessive environmental damage. It finds that ending hunger through economic growth alone (an approach that would try to increase overall food availability without addressing food consumption inequality) would require 20% more food production by 2030 than in business-as-usual, as well as generating higher carbon emissions and using more agricultural land.

Image: DanaTentis, Sardine Pesce Fresco, Pixabay, Pixabay License
2 October 2019

This paper models the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water footprints of both baseline consumption patterns and nine different healthy diets that prioritise plant ingredients for 140 countries. The authors find large differences in GHG and water footprints between countries, with vegan, two-thirds vegan or “low food chain” (including insects, molluscs and forage fish) diets generally leading to the greatest footprint reductions.

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