Showing results for: Europe
Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.
The UK government has announced a year-long review of the food system, which will lead to a new National Food Strategy for England. As well as consulting experts and people working through the supply chain, the review process will include a Citizen’s Assembly (a form of sortition), where a representative set of randomly selected people will listen to the evidence, debate it and make suggestions for next steps.
Fisheries often discard large quantities of unwanted catches at sea, but policies are being brought in to limit such discards. According to this paper, Northern gannets (seabirds) rely more on fishery discards in years when there are shortages in their natural prey (mainly mackerel) - shortages that may be due to pressure from fisheries. The paper argues that fishery discards are not an adequate substitute for natural prey.
The Oxford Martin School has helped to develop NaturEtrade, an online marketplace for ecosystems services. Landowners or managers can set a price that they would accept in return for keeping their land in its present ecological condition, rather than putting it to other uses that might degrade it. Buyers who want the land to remain unchanged, e.g. a business further downstream that wants to limit flooding, can enter into a contract with the landowner or manager.
This report from the UK’s Triodos Bank calls for a radical overhaul of the food system with a focus on environmental sustainability, healthy diets, and fair pay for farmers.
This report from UK supermarket Sainsbury’s sets out predictions for how the food system might be in the years 2025, 2050 and 2169. Near-term predictions include milk made from algae, and increased numbers of flexitarian eaters, while long-term predictions include farming in inhospitable landscapes such as deserts or Mars, and personal microchip implants that tell us exactly what nutrition we need.
This paper presents a newly developed open-source system for precision agriculture in lettuce production. The system, known as AirSurf, uses a lightweight manned aircraft to gather images of lettuce fields, then a deep learning algorithm assesses the state of the lettuce crops on a number of characteristics, including lettuce size and number per field.
According to this paper, households in the Netherlands wasted 41kg of solid food per person in 2016 - a 15% decline since 2010. Furthermore, 57 litres per person of potable liquids such as coffee, tea and milk are disposed of via the sink or toilet each year. Rice, bread, pasta, vegetables and pastries are among the food types most likely to be wasted (as a percentage of purchased quantity).
This paper sets out a new method to account for nutrition in the functional unit of life cycle assessments of single foods. The method accounts for the wider dietary context of each food type, which is found to affect the results relative to using either mass as a functional unit, or another nutrient-based functional unit that does not consider the dietary context.
A joint investigation by the Guardian newspaper, Channel 4 News and the UK’s non-profit Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that halving ammonia emissions from farms in the UK could save thousands of lives each year. However, a loophole in regulations means that ammonia emissions from beef and dairy farms do not have to be monitored.
This report from the European Academies Science Advisory Board outlines the connections between climate change and human health in Europe, recommends integrating health concerns into climate mitigation strategies, and suggests areas of priority for further research.
This investor briefing from UK responsible investment charity ShareAction introduces the topic of childhood obesity and sets out the opportunities and risks it poses to investment portfolios.
According to this study of farmland birds in Finland, bird abundance is positively correlated with the nearby presence of organic animal farms, as well as the percentage of nearby field cover and the presence of natural grasslands.
Following consultation with fishers and marine conservation experts, the UK government has created new Marine Conservation Zones around the English coast, taking the UK’s total protected areas of ocean to over twice the size of England. However, some critics question whether the protected areas are actually beneficial to wildlife.
This report from UK charity Rewilding Britain argues that rewilding peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters in the UK could sequester carbon and also produce other benefits such as flood mitigation, enhanced biodiversity and water quality improvement.
This briefing from the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London outlines the history and importance of food policies (such as mandatory health warning labels, dietary guidelines, or bans on destroying food waste) in influencing the food system.
This report details the findings of a seven-month bike tour of rural communities in the UK carried out by the RSA Food Farming & Countryside Commission. It gives an account of rural life in the UK, covering topics such as extreme weather (and its impact on farming), housing prices, flood risk, sheep farming, closure of rural businesses and the potential impact of Brexit on trading across the Northern Irish border with the Republic of Ireland.