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This book sets out an accessible framework for understanding the role of agriculture in sustainable development, focusing on agriculture as a complex system with many tradeoffs and synergies.
This article by Caroline Grunewald and Dan Blaustein-Rejto, both of of the US Breakthrough Institute think-tank, argues that the environmental movement fails to appreciate the environmental benefits that can result from free trade, by enabling producer countries with lower environmental impacts per unit of food to displace products from countries with higher environmental impacts.
This report from Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph tracks changes in food prices in Canada. It finds that prices in some food categories were impacted by environmental events, including an unexpected 5% increase in fish prices due to warming oceans. It also predicts that consumers will put strong pressure on food producers to avoid single-use plastic packaging, and that the Canadian food system is likely to be stressed by climate change, such as through droughts, forest fires and heavy precipitation.
The US-based Good Food Institute, which promotes plant-based foods and lab-cultured meat, has produced two State of the Industry Reports on plant-based and cell-based foods. The report outline industry developments during 2018, list the main industry actors, discuss regulatory updates in the United States, and analyse investment trends.
Decoupling of carbon emissions from economic growth is unlikely to happen quickly enough to meet the Paris climate targets of limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C, according to this paper. Furthermore, both historical trends and model-based projections suggest there is no evidence that resource use and economic growth can be absolutely decoupled at the global scale in the context of continued economic growth.
This book explores the economic, environmental and social aspects of the development of Brazil’s agricultural sector over time. Chapter topics include the role of public policies, innovation and research, family farming and land governance.
This book, by Mark Gibson, gives a broad overview of the development of the food industry and drivers of food supply, including information on food waste, genetic modification, food safety, politics and social trends.
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.
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.
The book “Feeding the world: Brazil’s transformation into a modern agricultural economy”, by Herbert S. Klein and Francisco Vidal Luna, examines the development of Brazil’s agricultural production, provides a historical understanding of the changes in Brazil’s economy, and explains Brazil’s impact on the world food system.
The book “Changing the food game: market transformation strategies for sustainable agriculture”, written by Lucas Simons, discusses how markets can be changed to support a sustainable food system. Chapter topics include how food production impacts the world, market failures, and phases of market transformation.
The book “Food Safety Economics - Incentives for a Safer Food Supply”, edited by Tanya Roberts, explores how regulations have affected the economic incentives influencing food safety.
Irish social enterprise foodture has produced a podcast about food citizenship, featuring Anna Cura of the Food Ethics Council. Anna describes the concept of food citizenship as being a mindset where people to think about themselves as engaged citizens, not just consumers, when making food purchase choices.
The UK’s Eating Better alliance has published a survey of ready meals in the main UK supermarkets. The briefing reports that only 3% of the 1350 ready meals surveyed were entirely plant-based; vegetarian, plant-based and meat substitute meals altogether made up 14% of the meals surveyed; 77% of the meals contained meat; and 10% contained fish or seafood. Some retailers sell vegan and vegetarian ready meals at a higher price than other meals, most notably Tesco’s Wicked Kitchen vegan range, which is 67% more expensive than Tesco’s regular range. Nearly one third of meat-based meals did not specify the country of origin of the meat, while only three retailers included the meat in their own-brand ready meals under their farm animal welfare policies.
FCRN member Sylvie Bonny of the INRA (National Institute for Agricultural Research), France, has written a paper on corporate consolidation and technological change in the global seed industry. The paper examines the views that different types of stakeholders have about current trends towards concentration, including concerns about the consequences on seed prices and diversity.