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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.
New duties on foods known to be unhealthy should be part of a package of public health policies to tackle overweight and obesity and other diet-related diseases, according to the National Heart Forum (NHF).
The Politics of Land and Food Scarcity, by Paolo De Castro, Felice Adinolfi, Fabian Capitanio, Salvatore Di Falco, and Angelo Di Mambro, provides an overview of the new global challenges connected with land, food supply, and agriculture.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has released a report entitled the Low Carbon Economy Index, which analyses the amount of carbon emitted per unit of GDP. It concludes that for a 50 % chance of limiting temperature rise to 2˚C, carbon intensity needs to fall by more than 5 % per year every year until 2050.
This article, published in Global Change Biology, examines the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the EU27 livestock sector for the year 2007 utilizing a life cycle assessment, which examines every step and input during the creation of a product to calculate total GHG emissions. They also examined the GHG emissions from livestock production, consumption of imported livestock products and wastage.
The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) recently released a statement saying that by the end of 2015 all palm oil used in central Government food and catering services will come from environmentally friendly sources. However, Defra’s statement has come under fire from groups such as WWF-UK and the British Retail Consortium (BRC), who say the agreement is too weak and requires participation by other sectors to have a substantial impact.
In One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed The World?, Gordon Conway explains the many interrelated issues critical to our global food supply from the science of agricultural advances to the politics of food security. He emphasises the essential combination of increased food production, environmental stability, and poverty reduction necessary to end endemic hunger on our planet.
A paper in Nature Climate Change finds that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rising temperatures cause rice agriculture to release more of the potent greenhouse gas methane (CH4) for each kilogram of rice it produces.
Dr. Jasper Knight, Wits University (South Africa), and Dr. Stephan Harrison, University of Exeter (UK) argue that governments and institutions should focus on developing adaptation policies to address and mitigate the impact of global warming, rather than putting emphasis on carbon cap-and-trade schemes. Their arguments are presented in a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change entitled “The impact of climate change on terrestrial Earth surface systems.”
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) recently produced an infographic on the food security implications of meat consumption, including health and nutrition, biodiversity and climate risks, and impact on poverty.
To view it, click here.
In August 2012, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), responding to a request from the United Nations’ Committee on Food Security, asked experts from CGIAR’s 15 research centers to summarize the effects of climate change on 22 of the most important agricultural commodities and 3 critical natural resources in the developing world.
In our 24th September Newsletter, we mentioned that the EU is considering plans to limit crop-based biofuels to 5% of transport fuel. Biofuels have been promoted in recent years, largely because of the belief that they will help reduce transport’s impact on the environment, and particularly because of its contribution to climate change. But the indirect effects of growing crops to make fuel have seriously challenged these assumptions.
José Graziano da Silva, the FAO's director general, has compared the land grab deals in Africa to the “wild west,” saying a "sheriff" is needed to restore the rule of law. Large land deals have accelerated since the surge in food prices in 2007-08, prompting companies and sovereign wealth funds to take steps to guarantee food supplies.
The Carbon Disclosure Project also released its Global Water Report, entitled Collective responses to rising water challenges. The intention of this report is to serve as a “call to action for companies to treat water with the strategic importance it deserves; to consider the role they should play in tackling water challenges and to provide the leadership required to build a more resilient future.” Despite increased awareness and activity among some respondents, the Global 500 response rate remained static at 60% (191 companies).
The Carbon Disclosure Project released its FTSE 350 Climate Change Report 2012, entitled The Future of Reporting, which provides an annual update on greenhouse gas emissions data and climate change strategies at the UK’s largest public corporations.
This guide, produced by IGD, is designed to help businesses understand what they can do to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and communicates it in a way that will provide the business case for investment in greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction initiatives.
India’s Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation recently released the report Children in India 2012, which found that child malnutrition is so severe in India that 48% of children under five are stunted. Moreover, 19.8% of children in the same age group suffer from acute malnutrition, as evidenced by wasting.
The full report can be found here.
The Courtauld Commitment is a voluntary “responsibility deal” aimed at improving resource efficiency and reducing the carbon and wider environmental impact of the grocery sector. This includes action to reduce food and packaging waste. Signatories to the deal include UK grocery retailers and manufacturers, and the initiative is led and coordinated by the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP).