What kinds of collaborations lead to increased food security? Anne Radl wants to hear your success stories.
An economist, a lawyer and a community activist walk into a plant laboratory… it sounds like the beginning of a joke – one with a punchline that relies on the listener knowing that these three people have fundamentally different, irreconcilable ways of seeing the world.
But at the October 8 launch event of The Humanitarian Centre’s Global Food Futures Year, held at the Sainsbury Plant Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, economists, lawyers and activists (and many others) came together to mark our year-long focus on food security.
Continue reading In pursuit of a common dream
A birth and bereavement gives food for thought. GFS Champion Tim Benton reflects.
Two recent events – the death of my father and the birth of a friend’s first child – have made me ponder about the course of a human life. In particular, for someone born now what will happen to the world during their lifetime?
During our debates over food security and climate change we often look ahead. But does the timescale we choose to look ahead matter? If so, is there one that resonates with sufficient power to promote action?
Continue reading Life, death and looking ahead
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
Is science the only answer to climate change and food security challenges? Andrée Carter reports from the Planet under Pressure conference.
A major international conference held at the end of March, Planet under Pressure, focused on solutions to the global sustainability challenge.
First, we need to recognise a shared vision of what a truly sustainable world will look like, and to do that, we need to cooperate across disciplines and with a wide variety of stakeholders.
Continue reading Visions for a sustainable world
Richard Tiffin looks back on one food security meeting and ahead to another.
It was great to be invited to join in a fascinating discussion on ‘Navigating the ‘Perfect Storm’: the international challenge of food, water and energy security’ at the Royal Geographical Society supported by WWF last Thursday, 9 February.
Continue reading Navigating the perfect storm: optimism for Rio +20
Has environmental protection taken the edge off UK farming’s competitiveness? Mark Tinsley makes the case.
Who should run the countryside? This was the banner of an event was hosted by Relu (the Rural Economy and Land Use programme) on Nov 16 this year in Gateshead, UK. It was a day-long opportunity for people from all walks of life to take part in activities coordinated by Relu researchers and debate major questions about the future of the UK countryside.
Continue reading Debating rural affairs
Tim Benton on the challenges ahead and why he’s taken on the role.
Meeting the growing demands for both food and sustainability is a huge interdisciplinary challenge; the answer will not be found in a single discipline. As an interdisciplinary problem, global food security solutions must combine agricultural science (including crop improvement), farming management, understanding trade-offs in land uses (between ecosystem services and agricultural production for example) and a wide range of social issues concerning behaviour, consumption, economics and global trade.
Continue reading A Champion for the Global Food Security programme
UK agriculture needs to be more competitive, says Jim Godfrey.
As farmers we want a competitive farming industry because that is what will be sustainable in the longer term. A competitive industry is profitable, more resilient, better able to withstand financial, disease and other shocks; it is more likely to reinvest, better able to provide good working conditions, environmental benefits, and give greater choice, innovation and value to consumers as well as being less likely to require subsidy.
Over the last 20 years we have seen the output of UK agriculture decline, mainly as a result of less land in production and less livestock. The UK’s self sufficiency has decreased too, and the average yields of our major crops have at best only marginally increased over this time, the notable exception being sugar beet. The pig sector has decreased substantially as a result of UK welfare legislation and subsequent under re-investment, whilst the poultry sector has increased substantially due to well targeted research and investment in buildings.
Continue reading Better British farming
Progress towards affordable, sustainable food production will be made with successful partnerships, says Janet Allen.
On 10 February the UK’s major public funders of food-related research published their coordinated research plan to help the world avoid a food security crisis.
The UK Research Councils, Government departments and other public bodies are co-ordinating their research activities related to food and agriculture through the Global Food Security (GFS) programme, the blog of which you are reading.
The GFS programme aims to provide the world’s growing population with a sustainable and secure supply of safe, nutritious and affordable high quality food from less land and with lower inputs. A short video that encapsulates the problem can be seen on the front page of this website.
Continue reading Research strategy launched to help meet food security challenge
Improving the conversion of light into biomass will require thinking outside the box, says Riaz Bhunnoo.
It’s said that you can’t force people to have fun, but can you help a group of people to be creative?
The answer is yes. But it depends largely on the people present and the environment they are in.
The Ideas Lab on enhancing photosynthesis, jointly organised by BBSRC and the National Science Foundation in the US, and held at the Asilomar Conference Center, California, Sept 13-17 aimed to create an environment conducive to creative, ‘out of the box’ thinking. The idea was to bring together a diverse group of people from different disciplinary backgrounds and to use their unique perspectives and expertise to generate novel and potentially ground-breaking ideas in a similar format to a ‘sandpit’.
Continue reading The Ideas Lab on enhancing photosynthesis