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.
A new study suggests that enriching crops by adding a naturally-occurring soil mineral to fertilisers could potentially help to reduce disease and premature death in Malawi. Dietary deficiency of the mineral selenium plays a vital role in keeping the immune system healthy and fighting illness and is likely to be endemic among the Malawi population.
This is interesting, although not perhaps surprising, study finding that consumers are more likely to perceive an unhealthy food such as a candy bar as more healthful when it has a green coloured calorie label compared with when it had a red one - even though the number of calories are the same. And green coloured labels increase the perceived healthfulness of foods, especially among consumers who place high importance on healthy eating.
This report says that Europe’s high consumption levels of products such as meat, dairy and textiles that require large areas of land, mean that Europe’s 'land footprint' remains one of the largest in the world. The report finds that the EU is importing the equivalent of 1,212,050 square kilometres to meet its demand for food.
A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) describes methods for quantifying environmental pressures caused by European consumption patterns and economic production sectors, and shows the results from this approach.
Science Daily summarises the findings of a paper which reports on recent successful attempts to transgenically breed a pig that utilises phosphorous more efficiently. The pigs have genetically modified salivary glands, which help them digest phosphorus in feedstuffs, thereby reducing phosphorus pollution in the environment.
This paper highlights the impacts of heat stress on yields of maize in France. It finds that while irrigation can be used to adapt to reduced rainfall, heat stress is a concern that cannot be so easily managed. It finds that assuming current climate projections, yields per hectare will need to improve by 12% between 2016 and 2035 simply to maintain current production levels.
Plantwise is an initiative, led by CABI, to improve food security and the lives of the rural poor by reducing crop losses. Plantwise has been initiated to help developing countries set up and run community based plant clinics staffed by ‘plant doctors’ that deliver free plant health advice to farmers.
Another study highlighting the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. This one reports on the findings of a randomised controlled trial finding that a Mediterranean diet high in fruit and vegetables, seafood, whole grains, mono-unsaturated fats and very low in meat and dairy delivers better health outcomes as regards prevention of cardiovascular heart disease and strokes than a low fat diet.
This is a very interesting study. It’s based on a very small set of interviews - 16 people who self-identified as deliberately trying to live a lower-carbon lifestyle because of concern about climate change – and so its findings don’t necessarily apply to other people living in lower carbon ways.
At the University of Gothenburg in Sweden a new Land Rights Research Initiative (LARRI) was launched in late 2012. The research initiative aims at creating a platform for discussion, exchange of ideas and information as well as for promoting collaboration among researchers, students and other actors interested in land rights issues from a poverty and development perspective in a context of global change.
The Australian Government has published its new dietary guidelines. While these have been welcomed by many, the Public Health Association of Australia argues that, among other things, it represents a missed opportunity to incorporate environmental considerations into nutritional advice.
The guidelines are available here.
You can read the PHAA’s press release here.
A paper published in Nature Climate Change suggests that planting trees for use as a biofuel source, near populated areas, is likely to increase human deaths due to inhalation of ozone. Increased levels of isoprene emitted from such trees, when interacting with other air pollutants can lead to increased levels of ozone in the air which might also lead to lower crop yields.
This paper has been widely reported – and also misinterpreted. It has been publicised as a study which suggests that healthier diets (which seems to be conflated with one containing lower levels of meat and dairy) do not necessarily lead to reduced GHG emissions; however, a closer reading of the conclusions reveals otherwise.
There seems to be a strong focus on livestock at the moment. Greenpeace International has also entered the field now, with a new report, Ecological Livestock. Focusing on Europe, the report explores livestock production and consumption can be reduced to fit within ecological limits, such as biodiversity, climate change and water use.
A report commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been published , focusing on the environmental problems caused by nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrient flows and identifying the actions that could be taken to reduce excessive nutrient use. The research was led by Mark Sutton at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and carried out by 50 exports from 14 countries.
There has been an exchange of views between the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and GAIN, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition following the World Health Organisation’s statement that it will defer a decision as to whether GAIN should be accredited to the World Health Assembly.
Europe’s land footprint is 640 million hectares a year – an area equivalent to 1.5 times the size of Europe itself. This is the land required to make everything that we consume, from food to material products to fuel.
This very useful paper provides a much needed analysis of GHG emissions resulting from community urban food growing. The study is located in the London Borough of Sutton ( a suburban part of london) and the area of production covers just under 3 hectares. The study concludes that urban food prodution can deliver useful reductions in GHG emissions as compared with supermarket equivalents, provided that care is taken to produce the crops where there is the greatest environmental comparative advantage.
In December 2012 Chatham House (The Royal Institute for International Affairs) produced a report, Resource Futures, which presented the findings of a major into the shifting global political economy of key resources (land, water, energy, minerals and food), analysing their inter-linkages in production, use and trade.
BP has published a report ‘Energy Outlook 2030’, which projects future energy trends and factors that could affect them, based on views of likely economic and population growth and developments in policy and technology. This year’s edition examines the revolution in shale gas and tight oil, which is driving America’s energy revival.
A report funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) identifies the ‘hotspots’ where zoonoses impose significant burdens, but also where zoonoses management is targeted at poor livestock keepers and consumers. The report maps emerging zoonoses as distinct from other emerging disease events, provides maps of regional agroecosystems, and summarises numbers of livestock, people and poor livestock keepers by system as well as by zoonoses context.