Archive for September 2012

From insecurity to food security

Utilising satellites as insurance loss adjusters could help to some of the poorest farmers in Africa. Michael Baron is watching.

Michael Baron

Things happen, and sometimes bad things happen, like my house catching fire.

About 4000 years ago, people invented the concept of insurance, to share risks so no one lost everything when a bad thing happened. But my house catching fire is preventable – the things that are most important to insure against are the unpreventable bad things, such as extreme weather.
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The semantics of sustainability and food security

Tara Garnett tackles the thorny and complex issue of growing more with less.

Tara Garnett

‘Sustainable intensification’ is one of those phrases regularly bandied about in discussions about agriculture. What does it actually mean?

The shorthand definition: ‘producing more food with less negative impact’ – seems hard to dislike. But considering what it might mean in practice, all sorts of questions arise.

Does sustainable intensification imply a particular system or philosophy of agriculture? What about the ‘more food’ issue – how much more, what kind of food, produced where and for whom? How much weight does one attach to the ‘sustainable’ as opposed to the ‘intensification’ part? And what happens when ethical concerns such as animal welfare are added to the mix? 
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