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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.
This report from IGD highlights consumers' attitudes towards adopting a more environmentally sustainable and healthy diet. Some of the report's main findings are:
- Shoppers are feeling more empowered about sustainable diets, but still require industry to take the lead in this area and to inspire them
- Nearly half of shoppers say healthy options are important compared to one in five that consider ethical factors
The UK-based Eating Better alliance has published the findings of a survey which finds that :
• 25% of the British public say they are eating less meat than a year ago
• 34% are willing to consider eating less meat
• One in six (17%) young people say they don’t eat any meat
This video features some of the young researchers who took part in the networking conference on interdisciplinary research into future food systems in April 2013. Behind the initiative was Future Earth a new global 10-year interdisciplinary research programme and the three partners ICSU, ISSC and the DFG.
In this personally written Nuffield Farming Scholarship report, Robert Craig describes his research journey to explore both the production systems and the consumer values of rapidly developing countries. He set out with the intention to travel far and wide during the study to gain a global perspective of the food production systems and core food values of less developed countries, comparing them with the UK situation. He visited China, India and South America and compared them with two regions/countries that are today very dependent on, and efficient at, producing food from the land: California in the USA and New Zealand.
As the FCRN has previously reported, the EU commission recently held a consultation (now closed) aimed at exploring how we as a society might move towards a more resource efficient and sustainable food system. The public consultation included discussions on a number of areas for action:
This paper published in Journal of Environmental Planning and Management discusses the idea of using surplus food redistribution to reduce food waste. It concludes that unless a distinction is drawn between genuine waste to be recovered and surplus to be redistributed for community benefit, surplus food as a resource is unlikely to be fully utilised.
A new study by researchers at University of Calgary published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the long-term legacy of past fertilizer applications must be considered in reducing nitrate contamination of aquatic ecosystems. The study finds that nitrogen fertilizer leaks out in the form of nitrate into groundwater for much longer than was previously thought. The long-term tracer study revealed that three decades after synthetic nitrogen (N) was applied to agricultural soils, 12–15% of the fertilizer-derived N was still residing in the soil organic matter, while 8–12% of the fertilizer N had already leaked toward the groundwater.
Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) gave a keynote presentation at the opening of the Global Animal Health Conference, ‘Developing global animal health products to support food security and sustainability’, in Arlington, Virginia on 17th October 2013.
This briefing paper was produced by Sir Gordon Conway together with colleagues from the Agriculture for Impact program at Imperial College London and researchers from Harvard Kennedy School and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). The briefing paper argues that African food production remains well below its potential and that innovation for sustainable intensification can help smallholder farmers produce more food with less impact on the environment while also improving agriculture’s sustainability.
Lanched on the 16 October 2013, the final report of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations Now for the Long Term, is now available online.
This report calls for a radical shake-up in politics and business to deliver progress on climate change, to reduce economic inequality, improve corporate practices and address the chronic burden of disease.