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.
The Soil Association has published 'Just say N2O: From manufactured fertiliser to biologically-fixed nitrogen.' This report reviews the extent to which organic systems can meet the double challenge of reducing nitrogen losses and building stores of soil organic nitrogen so as to reduce dependency on manufactured nitrogen.
Eight major organizations working in livestock development have issued a joint communiqué today, committing themselves to “working in closer alliance to develop and fulfill on a global agenda for the livestock sector that is safer, fairer and more sustainable.”
The World Resources Institute have developed a database that lists policies and measures in 18 developing countries that have an impact on climate change.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Commission have announced a €5.3 million three-year project to promote “climate-smart” approaches to agriculture.
FCRN mailing list member Ken Giller is one of the authors of this paper on phosphorous which finds that average global phosphorous needs in 2050 will be less than previous estimates assume due to the presence of residual phosphorous in soils (from historical applications). The implication of this is that the global phosphate supply will last longer than hitherto expected.
FCRN member Chris Foster has recently co-authored this paper, which argues that a focus on ‘greening’ individual products without changing the wider socio-economic context within which products are produced, marketed and consumed is likely to achieve very little.
This is an interesting presentation, given by Eric Davidson of Woods Hole Research Center, at the recent Planet under Pressure conference in March 2012. The presentation is a summary of a paper he has forthcoming in Environmental Research Letters.
This report by the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change (CCAFS) reviews the scientific evidence to identify a pathway to achieving food security in the context of climate change. It says that food systems must shift to better meet human needs and, in the long term, balance with planetary resources.
The International Livestock Research Institute and the World Bank hosted a meeting on livestock in Nairobi on the 12-13 March. Some of the presentations may be of interest, in particular:
This paper firstly considers the argument that intensification in the Brazililan livestock sector can help reduce land use change pressures (the ‘land sparing’ argument). It then uses an economic model-based analysis to make the point that intensification in the Brazilian livestock sector to increase productivity on a given area of land will only halt deforestation if it is accompanied by policies to alter the fact that extensifive cattle rearing is still marginally profitable.
This discussion paper questions the idea that ‘greener’ economic growth can achieve the reductions in GHG emissions that are necessary – a point that was also powerfully made by Tim Jackson in his 2009 book Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a finite planet.
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 UK dairy sector has published its first report which looks at the carbon footprints of a selection of British dairy farms with a view to establishing a baseline against which progress can be measured. The study reveals very substantial differences in the GHG footprints expressed as CO2 eq/kg fat corrected milk, of different farms, and also finds that there is more variation between farms, than between production systems. It also concludes that there is no one variable (eg milk yield, fertiliser use or energy consumption) that accounts for most of the variation between farms.
The Danish EPA has compiled guidance for policy-makers aiming to promote SCP in the food retailing sector. It states that “Government has an important enabling role to play in using policy levers to support the development of a business case for manufacturers and retailers to produce and deliver more sustainable products.
An interesting paper confirming what intuition might suggest – that men’s diets have a higher GHG burden than women’s because, (even allowing for the fact that men generally need to eat more) they tend to eat more meat; women’s diets are more water demanding due to their greater consumption of fruit and vegetables (the study looks at irrigation water rather than overall water).
PBL, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, has published a new report arguing that the impact of the proposed greening measures of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on the sustainable development of agriculture appears to be relatively small.
Through its commitments in the Natural Environment White Paper (NEWP), the UK government has made a commitment to identify how the UK can increase food production in ways that improve the environment. Defra is doing this through the Green Food Project, an initiative that involves stakeholders from the farming and food sectors, the service industry and the environmental sector.