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.
Current land use patterns in the UK are not sustainable, according to this report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change. The report claims that, if current farming trends continue, there will not be enough land in the UK to both meet future settlement needs and maintain current levels of per capita food production. The report also predicts significant negative effects of climate change on soils, water, vegetation and wildlife.
This paper describes the susceptibility of organisms such as bacteria to biocides such as antibiotics, insecticides and herbicide as a beneficial ecosystem service, since susceptible organisms can prevent the spread of biocide resistance by outcompeting resistant organisms (that is, in biocide-free environments). This framing is distinct from many other viewpoints, which focus on the negative costs of biocide resistance.
6.5–15.4 million hectares of private land in Brazil could become legally available for deforestation, because expansion in the land area designated as conservation units or indigenous reserves could trigger a legal mechanism whereby the area of legal reserves for native vegetation may be decreased.
This paper compared soil moisture and biomass growth between pasture both with and without photovoltaic solar panel arrays. While average soil moisture was similar across the fields with and without solar panels, the field with the solar panels had more variable soil moisture: directly underneath the solar panels, persistent stores of soil water were available throughout the growing season. Without solar panels, the pasture experienced water stress in the middle of summer.
This piece in the New Food Economy explores why the US cranberry industry has collectively agreed to destroy one quarter of its harvest, but will not ask any farmers to scale back production. A surplus of cranberries on the market means that prices are being driven below the cost of production. The agreement to destroy a portion of the harvest means that prices will rise again. Unlike other industries, which are regulated by antitrust laws, farmers are allowed to make collective agreements such as this under the Capper–Volstead Act.
Israeli startup Taranis has raised $20 million in funding for its aerial imaging technology, which uses multispectral images from satellites, planes and drones to scan fields. Artificial intelligence then identifies threats such as insects, crop disease, weeds and nutrient deficiencies. The company claims its technology can increase crop yields by up to 7.5%.
In a column for the Guardian, George Monbiot writes about the potential to create food without plants, animals or soil, using instead bacteria that feed on hydrogen (generated by solar-powered electrolysis of water) and carbon dioxide from the air. Monbiot argues that this form of food production could eventually drastically reduce the amount of land needed for the global food supply chain, and suggests that the new foodstuff could be used as an ingredient in processed foods.
In the book The End of Animal Farming, author Jacy Reese examines the social forces, technologies and activism that he argues will lead to the end of animal agriculture.
This report by the UK Health Forum argues that the UK’s current food system does not support the UK government’s healthy eating goals. For example, many subsidies support animals products and relatively few support fruit, vegetables and pulses, while healthy foods often cost more than unhealthy foods.
This interim report from the UK’s Food, Farming and Countryside Commission inquiry into the challenges that the food industry, farmers, and the countryside face sets out the progress that the inquiry has made so far.
The Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research has produced an online compendium of methods for assessing agrobiodiversity, including diversity of crops, livestock, pollinators and harvested wild plants.
The London-based Centre for Food Policy has published a report of its symposium “How can evidence of lived experience make food policy more effective and equitable in addressing major food system challenges?”, which sought to explore how information from people who live with food-related problems can improve food policy.
Growing millet next to a woody shrub native to West Africa could increase biomass by over 900% compared to growing millet alone, according to this paper. The shrub, Guiera senegalensis J.F. Gmel, has tap roots that can reach water deep in the soil. The study traced the movement of water from the shrub’s deep roots to the millet stems in a simulated drought.
Optimal taxation levels would cause the price of processed meat to increase by 25% and the price of red meat to increase by 4%, on average, according to this paper. The calculations are based on the additional healthcare costs incurred by one additional serving, as opposed to the total healthcare costs associated with all meat consumption. The paper concludes that such a tax on red and processed meats could reduce the deaths associated with consumption of these products by 9% and reduce associated healthcare costs by 14%.
The UK government is not preparing well enough for the impacts of Brexit on the food sector, argues Tony Lewis, Head of Policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in a piece for the Food Research Collaboration. Lewis points out that, among other issues, introducing necessary food safety checks on imports could cause 17 miles of tailbacks along the Dover-Calais route, the resources needed to operate the border may not be ready by March 2019 (when the UK will leave the European Union), and businesses do not have enough time to adapt in the event of no deal being reached between the UK and the EU.
In this piece for The Conversation, researcher Elise Wach discusses the consolidation of farmland in the UK and rising farmland prices. According to Wach, there were nine times more small farms in England 15 years ago than there are today, and the number of high-intensity large farms is rising swiftly.
This book, by David Lindenmayer, Damian Michael, Mason Crane, Daniel Florance and Emma Burns, describes best practice approaches for restoring Australian farm woodlands for birds, mammals and reptiles.