Food scarcity remains a fundamental cause of violent outbreaks across the world. Bryce Evans investigates the issue.
The use of food as a strategic weapon is well established. Texts as ancient as the Chinese Art of War and the Roman De Re Militari advocate denying the enemy food. The contemporary conflict in Sudan provides a case in point in the cynical application of this ancient wisdom. There, the government intensifies bombing in rebel areas at harvest time, destroying food. In turn, the country’s rebels seize humanitarian food supplies intended for refugees.
Continue reading Let them eat carbines
What does the future of animal production hold? David Hume looks forward.
We need to plan for increased production of animal products.
And there is increasing recognition that protein malnutrition has long-term effects on development of cognitive ability. Vegetarianism is not an option; there is evidence of subclinical malnutrition on vegetarian diets even in Western countries, and in developing countries high quality vegetable protein sources are no more available than animal protein.
Continue reading Genetics, genomics and gene modification
Agriculture is an eco-system, not a solo sector, says Robin Sanders.
There is a need for more public sector, private companies, organizations and donors to come together to share both resources and expertise to develop new approaches to sustainable and successful development.
Innovative thinking needs to be done particularly in agriculture to address food security since land, water, and environmental management are not separate from agriculture sector development or long-term food security.
Continue reading The 4P approach to food security
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?
Pieter van de Graaf on how Scottish science links to food security issues worldwide.
Scotland’s main food-related policies, the national Food & Drink policy Recipe for Success and the Prevention of Obesity Route Map, both recognise the important role that scientific research plays in achieving the Scottish Government’s policy goals.
Continue reading The global dimension of food research in Scotland
In our second post on the Durban Climate Change Conference, David Howlett asks what was agreed on agriculture.
I am co-author of a new paper – What next for agriculture after Durban? – published in the journal Science. Here are some thoughts from the article and the conference itself.
The 17th conference of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ended two days late on 11 December 2011. The extra time was used by governments to agree the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (PDF).
Continue reading Political economy and food security
Farming is still not receiving the attention it deserves to reap its potential, says Isabelle Coche.
One of the items on the G8 agenda at the 37th summit being held May 26-27 in Deauville, France, is the transition to a green economy. Agriculture can play a substantial role in helping to stimulate growth, secure rural livelihoods and reduce poverty in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Prior to the G8 summit, Farming First has launched an online infographic The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy.
Continue reading How agriculture can help to achieve the G8’s green economy ambition
Social science has an active role to play in driving positive consumer choices, says Philip Lowe.
Governments, including the UK’s, have signed up to the Kyoto Protocol and brought in domestic legislation with ambitious carbon reduction targets. But before we sit back and congratulate ourselves, shouldn’t we be thinking about exactly how we are to achieve real carbon reduction?
At the moment we are not only in danger of simply exporting our responsibilities by trading our emissions with less industrialised countries, but also failing to address the overall contribution that agriculture makes to climate change – at present the industry is responsible for 38 per cent of UK methane emissions – the vast majority from livestock management.
Continue reading Kind words butter no parsnips
Gambling on food prices was a driver of the 2007-08 crisis and it’s time to take action against this practice, says Julian Oram.
I don’t consider myself to be an especially intuitive person and I’m pretty sure I’d make a lousy detective. But a few years ago something happened on an international scale which roused my suspicions: the price of food was rising fast.
Between January 2007 and June 2008, maize prices shot up by 74%, wheat prices by 124%, and rice by 224%. In Britain, this led to grumblings about the rising cost of a loaf of bread. But across Asia, Africa and Latin America, riots erupted as the price of basic foodstuffs became unaffordable to poor households and millions went hungry. It was, without doubt, a major world crisis.
Continue reading The case of the great food bubble