Archive for 'policy'

Temperate matters in agriculture

Most of the world’s food is produced in temperate zones. The Global Food Security programme’s Evangelia Kougioumoutzi reports on the TempAg Network.

Evangelia Kougioumoutzi

Agricultural production in temperate regions is highly productive with a significant proportion of global output originating from temperate (i.e. non-tropical) countries – 21% of global meat production and 20% of global cereal production (PDF) originates from Europe alone. This proportion is very likely to increase (PDF) in light of climate change.

TempAg is an international research collaboration network established to increase the impact of agricultural research and inform policy making in the world’s temperate regions.
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The Global Food Security programme’s Champion, Professor Tim Benton, reflects on leaving the role after five years in the post.

Tim Benton

After five years, my term as the Champion for the UK’s Global Food Security programme has come to an end. It has been a fascinating and rewarding experience, even if at times exhausting and frustrating. So what have I learned?

The issue of food security is not (just) about food, it is about how we choose to live on a planet with limited resources. Food requires land and water and affects climate, biodiversity and our health. The amount of land and water available are finite, as is the climate impact we can tolerate, and the healthcare costs of the malnourished (underweight and overweight).
Continue reading “We are the champions, my friends”

Blackouts and water shortages can severely harm a nation’s food security. Resource allocation tools can help policy makers improve energy access while minimising hunger, says the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Louise Karlberg.

Louise Karlberg

Last July, Zambia found itself in the midst of a crippling energy crisis caused by low water levels in the reservoirs for hydropower generation. Load shedding (cutting off supply to parts of the power grid) became the norm, sending politicians into a frenzy because electricity is the lifeblood of the economy.

The blackouts had many negative knock-on effects for food producers. For example, while some large-scale poultry farmers were able to switch to alternative energy sources, such as generators to power vital equipment such as refrigerators, many of their smaller-scale fellows were unable to make this investment and lost income. And dairy farmers were faced with a range of other challenges related to the load shedding, as their plants can take several hours to regenerate after each power cut.
Continue reading Energy and food production: powering the balancing act

How would we cope with a post-pesticide world?

What technologies could sustainably replace pesticides, without compromising on yield or quality? The Global Food Security (GFS) programme’s David O’Gorman reviews a recent GFS workshop on the topic.

David O’Gorman

What would happen if we could no longer use pesticides? Well, there would be significant yield losses, food price increases, greater food insecurity and potentially political unrest and instability. There may well be reduced ecological impacts, but with loss of yield would come expansion of agricultural land, with release of GHGs and loss of biodiversity.

We are heavily reliant on pesticides to maximise crop yields and put food on our tables. Even with the use of pesticides, a third of food (PDF) produced for human consumption is lost or wasted – what might the figure be with a dramatic increase in pre-harvest losses following reduced pesticide use?
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Food crime matters

Criminal activity is costing global food and drink industries billions, but what is being done about it? Andy Morling of the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit reports.

Andy Morling

What does food have to do with the world of crime?

Consumers and food businesses can be disconnected by thousands of miles across the globe. From picking to packing, flavouring to refrigeration, there are multiple different processes that separate you from the hands of the farmer or farm worker that made your meal.

A lot can go wrong on that journey, from innocent mistakes to fraud and even high-level organised crime.
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Where was food in the COP21 Paris Agreement?

Failure to tackle food demand could make 1.5°C limit unachievable. Global Food Security programme Champion Tim Benton and Bojana Bajželj from WRAP explain.

Tim Benton and Bojana Bajželj

In Paris in December last year, 195 countries agreed to try and keep global temperature rise to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to “pursue efforts” towards 1.5°C.

Many had expected the 1.5°C temperature goal to drop out of the draft text during the fortnight of negotiations. Now, as the dust settles after the landmark agreement, scientists are grappling with the feasibility of meeting this more ambitious target.

But there was one sector that was largely absent from the talks in Paris. It’s something that we rely on everyday, and continuing to ignore it could mean waving goodbye to that 1.5°C goal. It’s food.
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Choosing food: consumption and the carbon footprint

How can we nudge people to eat more healthily and sustainably? University of Cambridge’s Arianna Psichas reports from the Global Food Security programme’s Policy Lab on sustainable nutrition.

Arianna Psichas

As the child of someone who has spent their career working in environmental policy, I have grown up with an acute understanding of the many challenges our planet faces, particularly with regard to climate change. Now, as a nutritional scientist I am passionate about public health, and I know that a shift towards more sustainable food options can very often also be healthier.
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Engaging with our food future

We need plan for tomorrow today. The Food Standards Agency’s Guy Poppy reports on the upcoming #OurFoodFuture event to do just that.

Guy Poppy

When was the last time you ate a chocolate bar and wondered where the ingredients came from? The odds are it was manufactured in a factory in the UK and bought in a supermarket down the road. But there’s a strong chance that the salt in that bar came from China, the palm oil from Southeast Asia, the whey from New Zealand, the sugar from the Caribbean, the cocoa from South America, the calcium sulphate from India and the milk and wheat from several EU countries.
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Introducing the Global Food Security programme’s Public Panel

BBSRC’s Patrick Middleton reports on a new approach from GFS to help people engage with the programme and its activities.

Patrick Middleton

Food security is an issue for all of us. Here in the UK, we import around 40% of our food, and the figure is rising. Through trade deals, climate change, rising global populations and the shared risk of plant and animal diseases spreading, we now live on a global farm.

With this in mind, we want to listen to your thoughts on food security issues. As a partnership of public organisations who fund research, the Global Food Security programme (GFS) is keen that the public are able to help shape GFS’s decision making. After all, it is the public who are ultimately paying for the programme through their taxes.
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Antimicrobials in agriculture

As a new report is published, BBSRC’s Adam Staines discusses the complex issues surrounding antibiotic use in the food chain.

Adam Staines

Despite lots of wider media coverage in the last year on antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance many people are still asking basic questions about what resistance is, what is resistant to what, and why should I really care?

Any societal complacency over the importance of antimicrobial drugs is actually a testament to their success. Many of the diseases that ravaged us and our livestock industries for centuries until Alexander Fleming and penicillin came along have been so successfully controlled we no longer fear them, or even recognise the names. (The leading causes of human death in 1900 were bacterial infections causing pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrhoea and enteritis.)
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