Geoff Tansey unravels the rhetoric at a food security conference at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House.
The meeting in London on 10-11 December 2012 was held under the Chatham House Rule, which forbids identification of speakers, so you may find this a rather frustrating blog.
One speaker asked participants the key question: why was the meeting talking about the sustainable intensification of agricultural production when the world already produces enough for everyone; when one third of all food produced ends up as waste; when an estimated 40% of corn in the US in 2013 is going to biofuel; and up to 90% of soya produced globally is used for animals not humans?
Continue reading Sustainable intensification – miracle or mirage?
The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (Relu) has been running since 2004. Laura Meagher reports on its value and progress.
Rural areas in the UK, and elsewhere, are experiencing considerable change at a pace that makes many feel uneasy about the future. The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (Relu) uses a combination of natural and social sciences to advance understanding of the challenges they face.
Continue reading Measuring the impact of food security research
Innovation is a critical part of solving global food security challenges, and presents business opportunities too, says Calum Murray.
But, if the UK economy is to maintain its own food security and benefit from the potential global commercial opportunities that will prevail, we need to ensure that the business base both exists and is adequately supported.
As the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board understands that breaking down the barriers to innovation can be hard; these might include a traditional mind set, policy and regulatory hurdles, available expertise or adequate funding.
Continue reading Linking and clever thinking
Times have changed, and the world’s problems need a global vision for action, says the chair of the EU Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Paolo de Castro.
The renewed position of food security at recent G8 and G20 Summits, from L’Aquila in 2009 (PDF) to Camp David in 2012, is an acknowledgement that a more sophisticated coordination at global level is needed to meet the new challenges, which are a sort of upside-down scenario in comparison to what prevailed in the last years of the 20th century, when food seemed relatively plentiful.
Continue reading The politics of food in the new scarcity
A new programme could mitigate climate change and adapt food production for the future. Tracy Gerstle reports.
Climate change is at the top of the United Nations agenda from 26 Nov to 7 Dec in negotiations at the Eighteenth Conference of the Parties (COP18) in Doha, Qatar. Since 1995, the annual climate talks of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have served as an important platform to focus global attention on identifying and starting to address the causes and impacts of climate change.
Continue reading Putting agriculture on the map at COP18
New insights are needed for an age-old problem, says Sara Kirk.
A recent survey (PDF) undertaken for the Global Food Security programme has revealed that more than half the UK population felt that ‘food security is not an issue that affects me, rather it’s more a problem for people in developing countries’.
This finding is notable when considered in the light of comments by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, who condemned Canada over what he saw as unacceptable rates of food insecurity in that country, where one in ten families with a child under six is unable to meet their daily food (PDF) needs.
Continue reading Food insecurity and nutrition
Sir Gordon Conway is optimistic about feeding the world’s undernourished by 2050.
Decades after the Green Revolution, food shortages, high prices, poverty and hunger continue. It is estimated that there are presently just under one billion chronically hungry people in the world. We also face the probability of repeated food price spikes and a continuing upward trend in food prices, and the challenge of feeding a growing global population in the face of a wide range of adverse factors, including climate change. Our global food security challenges are daunting.
Continue reading Can we feed one billion hungry people?
All roads lead to Rome for the UN’s Committee on World Food Security. Morgane Danielou previews the action.
From 15-20 October, watchful eyes will be on Rome as the UN World Committee on Food Security (CFS) holds its annual session at the FAO headquarters. As an intergovernmental body, it serves as a forum for review and follow up of food security policies. Following a turbulent year for food security, in particular the US and African droughts, the CFS will look to address these crises, as well as long-term structural issues.
Continue reading Global food and agriculture takes centre stage
A think-tank suggests that all fishing in Europe should cease to let stocks recover. Credible plan or silly talk? Stefano Mariani tests the bait.
Would a complete ban on all fishing in Europe for up to nine years be an effective way to replenish fishing grounds?
That’s the conclusion of the report ‘No Catch Investment’ from the UK-based think tank New Economics Foundation (NEF) that looked at 54 northeast Atlantic fish stocks, 49 of which are overfished. They say that halting current overexploitation would allow fish stocks the time to recover. And that the long-term increase in their monetary value as populations bounce back (£14.63Bn per year) will offset the short-terms costs (£10.4Bn) of not fishing (compensating fisherman etc.) which they suggest should be paid for by the private sector – the people who will make the estimated £4Bn profit later – not the public purse.
Continue reading Should we stop fishing?
Tara Garnett tackles the thorny and complex issue of growing more with less.
‘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?
Continue reading The semantics of sustainability and food security