Knowledge for better food systems

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.

12 November 2018

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.

12 November 2018

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.

12 November 2018

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.

12 November 2018

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.

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Image: Marco Schmidt, Guiera senegalensis, inflorescence and leaves, SW Burkina Faso, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
12 November 2018

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.

Image: Jon Sullivan, Fresh meat, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
12 November 2018

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%.

6 November 2018

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.

6 November 2018

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.

6 November 2018

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.

6 November 2018

This briefing by the Global Forest Coalition looks at subsidies and supports for the livestock sector and how they harm forests and other biodiverse ecosystems. In particular, the briefing assesses the impacts of the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement, which is currently being negotiated.

6 November 2018

Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling Technologies (SMART), a research and development centre at Loughborough University, has produced a post-event report of its expert panel discussion on reducing the impact of food waste held on 12 October 2018. The topics discussed include the influence of multibuy offers on food waste, the links between single-use packaging and food waste, the impacts of “wonky veg” ranges in supermarkets, and smart fridges.

6 November 2018

This report by the RISE Foundation (Rural Investment Support for Europe), co-authored by FCRN member Elisabet Nadeu, outlines the environmental and health impacts of livestock production and consumption in the EU. The report suggests that there is a “safe operating space” for livestock production, defined at the lower bound by the provision of nutrition to humans and the maintenance of permanent pasture habitats, and defined at the upper boundary by climate impacts and nitrogen and phosphorus emissions.

6 November 2018

WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report finds that population sizes of thousands of vertebrate species have declined by 60%, on average, between 1970 and 2014, land degradation seriously impacts 75% of terrestrial ecosystems, and current species extinction rates are 100 to 1000 times higher than the background rate. The report attributes these impacts to rising demand for land, water and energy, and explores the impacts of agriculture, fisheries and deforestation.

Image: USDA, Chickens, Flickr, Public domain
6 November 2018

Labelling schemes to indicate higher welfare standards for broiler chickens have contributed to some changes in the governance of poultry welfare in Australia, argues this paper - but those changes are mostly incremental, and the labelling schemes may even bolster the perceived legitimacy of intensive poultry farming.

Image: Akarsh Simha, Spraying pesticide, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
6 November 2018

Researchers have called for governments to phase out organophosphate pesticides in agriculture, ban their non-agricultural uses, and take steps to reduce human exposure to organophosphates. The researchers’ argument is based on systematic reviews that link foetal organophosphate exposure to adverse effects on the development of children’s brain and nervous system.

Image: Pxhere, Cow milk cow, CC0 Public Domain
29 October 2018

A case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease”, has been confirmed on a farm in Aberdeenshire. The case was discovered before entering the human food chain, and Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon has said that all necessary measures have been taken to protect consumers.

Image: Elmastudio, jippi, our kale is growing beautifully in the garden, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
29 October 2018

Two commentary pieces question the findings of the study “Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk”, which claims that higher organic food consumption is associated with a lower risk of cancer. The pieces point out that only two cancer types showed a statistically significant reduction in risk, and that the reduction in cancer risk only appeared to hold true for older women, not men, younger adults or people with a high overall quality of diet.

29 October 2018

A recording of the launch of the report “Negative Emissions Technologies and Reliable Sequestration: A Research Agenda” can be viewed here, hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The video is around one hour long and includes an overview of the report’s findings and a question-and-answer session.

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