Food Policy
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Food Policy
Scoops relating to international food policy and development issues (not necessarily endorsements). CLICK on the titles to get to the full, original, and possibly hyperlinked versions!
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Food Policy: Cutting Waste - Johns Hopkins (2015)

Food Policy: Cutting Waste - Johns Hopkins (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Previous studies indicate that Americans waste as much as 40 per cent... of the food that is produced or purchased. Globally, the figure is about 30 per cent of the food supply... Today, one in nine people around the world lack sufficient food, while 14 percent of Americans experience food insecurity, living without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

“In a world of limited resources and growing populations, it’s past time to stop dumping our good food in the landfill... Cutting food waste in half is doable, and public health is part of the solution.”

To curtail food waste in higher income countries, measures like clarifying food date labels could go a long way. Consumers are often confused by “use by,” “best by” and “sell by” dates on food packaging and thus toss out perfectly good food... In addition, creating markets for so-called “ugly” produce – bruised peaches, nicked potatoes – could minimize food waste while increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.

In lower- and middle-income countries, the priority is to improve infrastructure so food doesn’t begin to spoil while being shipped from farms to its final destinations... While most food waste reduction approaches benefit the public’s health, some strategies can be damaging. Recovering food that would otherwise be wasted is generally a win-win for food security and waste prevention. But donated food should meet recipient needs, not only those of donors to get rid of it... 

 

http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2015/food-policy-cutting-waste-broadening-systems.html

 

Original article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0647

 

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Commemorating 20 Years of U.S. Food Security Measurement - USDA (2015)

Commemorating 20 Years of U.S. Food Security Measurement - USDA (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

ERS released the 2014 food security statistics—the 20th year that consistent, scientifically based, objective measures of food adequacy in the United States have been available for researchers, policymakers, and others interested in the nutritional well-being of the U.S. population.

 

Food security—defined as consistent access to enough food for active, healthy living—was enjoyed by 86 percent of U.S. households in 2014. However, 14 percent of households were food insecure, meaning they had difficulty meeting basic food needs because they lacked money or other resources for food... 

 

The 20-year anniversary provides an opportunity to review the history of the food security measure—how the measure was developed, tested, and evaluated—and to reflect on its impact. 


Since 1995, USDA has published information about the prevalence and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households using data collected in an annual food security survey... Food security is assessed by responses to a set of survey questions about conditions and behaviors that characterize households when they are having difficulty meeting their basic food needs. The questions cover a wide range of conditions—from worrying that food will run out, to not being able to afford balanced meals, to not eating for a whole day... 

 

Each surveyed household is classified into one of three categories based on the number of food-insecure conditions it reports: food secure, low food security, and very low food security. Households with low food security primarily report conditions indicating anxiety about their food situation and reduced quality, variety, or desirability of their diets. Most report little or no reduction in food intake. Households with very low food security report those same conditions and in addition, report multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns, such as skipping meals and reduced food intake.

 

Of the 6.9 million households with very low food security in 2014, 96 percent reported that they had cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food, 96 percent reported that they had eaten less than they felt they should because there was not enough money for food, and 69 percent reported that they had been hungry but did not eat because they could not afford enough food. These households reported other conditions as well...

 

Food insecurity has high costs for individuals, families, and society. Studies by medical researchers, nutritionists, and other scientists have found that among adults, food insecurity is associated with poor physical and mental health, underuse of prescription medications due to cost, reduced nutrient intake, and increased likelihood of experiencing chronic diseases, such as diabetes. Among children, food insecurity is associated with a variety of health and well-being issues, including anemia, stomach aches, frequent headaches and colds, anxiety, behavioral problems, poor psychosocial development, and lower academic achievement and attainment. Among adolescents, food insecurity is associated with higher rates of depressive disorder and suicidal symptoms.

 

The food security measure was developed using input from leading experts in academia, government, and the private sector... Many of the food security survey questions were developed directly from statements that people made about their food situations... The data confirmed that food insecurity is a managed process, meaning that household members have some control over how they cope with food insecurity, how food insecurity is experienced, and who experiences it.


In early stages of food insecurity, a household may experience anxiety about its food supply. To maintain adequate intake, households may reduce the quality or variety of foods consumed. As the situation deteriorates, adults reduce their food intake and try to shield their children. In the most severe situations, children, too, are subjected to reduced food intake...


The CNSTAT panel also recommended that USDA make a clear and explicit distinction between food insecurity and hunger. Food insecurity—the condition assessed in the food security survey and represented in USDA food security reports—is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Hunger is an individual-level physiological condition that may result from food insecurity. USDA agreed with this distinction and in 2006 introduced labels to describe food insecurity that did not include hunger. What was once referred to as “food insecurity with hunger” is now described as “very low food security”... 

 

Recent ERS research has shown that households that include adults with disabilities are more likely to experience food insecurity, and food insecurity tends to be more severe among those with disabilities. Type of employment is also associated with food insecurity. Food insecurity rates were higher for households with members in nonstandard work arrangements—working multiple jobs, part-time work, or jobs in which the minimum number of hours worked varies from week to week—than for households with members in full-time jobs. As expected, those who are unemployed also face a higher incidence of food insecurity. Additional risk factors for food insecurity... include poverty and low income, low education, being in a single-parent household with children, and experiencing negative life events such as violence, separation, or health problems...

 

Higher food prices are related to an increased likelihood of food insecurity, especially among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. National economic conditions, such as the unemployment rate, inflation, and the price of food relative to other goods, are associated with trends in the national prevalence of food insecurity... SNAP helps alleviate food insecurity... 

 

Knowing how often and how long households are food insecure is important for understanding the extent and character of food insecurity and for maximizing the effectiveness of programs aimed at alleviating it. Two studies... found bouts of food insecurity to be generally of short duration... One study found that half of households that were food insecure at some time during the 1998-2002 study period experienced the condition in just a single year, and only 6 percent were food insecure in all 5 years. However, the fact that households move in and out of food insecurity also means that a considerably larger number of households are exposed to food insecurity at some time over a period of several years than are food insecure in any single year.

 

Food security has become an important outcome to measure well-being among American households and children. It is included as an indicator of children’s economic circumstances in America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being... It is also being used to track progress toward strategic goals and objectives. 

 

The U.S. household food security measure has been applied around the world. Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and other countries have used the measure as a basis for creating and fielding their own food security surveys to assess food adequacy. The U.S. food security measure was one of several used by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ... to create the Food Insecurity Experience Scale—translated in over 200 languages—to estimate food insecurity in 150 countries around the world in 2014. This new FAO scale will complement ERS’s international food security measure that focuses on the gap between countries’ food supplies and a consumption target...

 

Food insecurity has proven to be a valuable indicator, largely because it is based on validated statistical methods and is rooted in extensive research. The past 20 years of food security monitoring and research has created a solid foundation for moving forward...

 

http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2015-october/commemorating-20-years-of-us-food-security-measurement.aspx

 

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Food insecurity: a critical public health nutrition concern - Pereira & Hodge (2015) - Public Health Nutrition

Food insecurity: a critical public health nutrition concern - Pereira & Hodge (2015) - Public Health Nutrition | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Food security is a condition where ‘all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life’... 


In 2015 there are still about 800 million undernourished people across the planet, of whom over 95 % live in under-developed countries. Even when there is no lack of food, food insecurity (FI) may manifest as low-quality diet. Low-nutrient, energy-dense foods are becoming increasingly accessible for economically disadvantaged segments of the population and their consumption is often associated with overweight and micronutrient deficiency.

 

Food shortage and poor diet are violations of the food security principles and are the causes of a significant proportion of disease burden worldwide, limiting productivity and promoting premature
disability and reduced longevity.

 

FI is a vital issue on the public health nutrition agenda both in developing and developed countries. Therefore, measuring the magnitude of FI and evaluating the factors associated with its development are of importance for public health nutrition. The measurement of food security represents a major challenge since it should encompass the complexity of this phenomenon... 

 

The theme of FI has attracted contributions from researchers using different approaches and these reports identify some of the important issues related to FI. The evaluation of FI is still a developing field of study... and is limited by the absence of a ‘gold standard’ reference method... 

 

It would be important to address food security before implementing other programmes to improve nutrition in vulnerable populations. 

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S136898001500292X

 

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Do industrial agricultural methods actually yield more food per acre than organic ones? - Grist (2015)

Do industrial agricultural methods actually yield more food per acre than organic ones? - Grist (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

One of the most persistent arguments for modern, mechanized agriculture is that it produces a lot of food per acre, leaving more land for other purposes. I’ve often wondered how solid this argument is... When people only have a small amount of land to support them, they pour all their efforts into that land and eke more food per square foot than their neighbors with more land...

 

Sure, small farms tend to produce more than bigger farms in poor countries... but both produce way less than modern industrial farms in rich countries... “The smallest African farms produced about 25 percent more yield per hectare than the largest African farms. But the average American farm produced about 10 times more yield per hectare than either. Yield gaps between farmers in rich nations and those in poor countries are profound”... 

 

If we are chiefly concerned about environmental impact, farm size matters a lot less than the techniques and technologies those farms use. What I want to know is this: If we choose to eschew the practices of industrial farming, does that mean we’ll have to expand our land base to grow the same amount of food? Can organic yield as much as conventional farming? 


Are you really looking carefully at where you are getting your nitrogen? This is the one giant hurdle that has always stood in the way of organic farming producing as much food as conventional farming. Creating nitrogen fertilizer organically takes space... The way you create ammonia organically is to fill a field with legumes: plants that harbor nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Once they’ve grown, you plow those ammonia-packed plants into the ground. That takes up time and land that’s not growing food... When you are simply pouring synthetic nitrogen out of a bag, you don’t need this fallow period. 

 

So instead of looking at how much food an acre of land can produce for just one crop, we need to look at how much food an acre of land can produce over multiple years — and account for those fallow years, when nitrogen-fixing crops like legumes are planted...  New studies found that organic yields were lower than conventional; the best apples-to-apples comparisons had organic producing somewhere around 30 to 20 percent less... 


This doesn’t mean we seek high yields at any cost. Organic agriculture requires more land upstream of production, because you have to grow nitrogen fertilizer before you can grow food. But conventional agriculture takes up more space downstream from production: Fertilizers wash into waterways creating dead zones; soil washes away, too, and that eventually creates the need for more farmland; the manure lagoons required for confined animal feeding operations dominate space, especially when they leak.

 

The great strength of organic agriculture is in building up and restoring soil. Better soil structure, in turn, means less erosion and pollution. Perhaps we could do that good soil building, and use some synthetic nitrogen to keep our agricultural footprint from expanding. Rather than forcing a choice between organic and industrial, we should create hybrids out of whatever techniques work best... 

 

http://grist.org/food/do-industrial-agricultural-methods-actually-yield-more-food-per-acre-than-organic-ones/

 

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Dietary Diversity and Biofortification: Closer Than You Think - HarvestPlus (2015)

Dietary Diversity and Biofortification: Closer Than You Think - HarvestPlus (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Some 2 billion people suffer from hidden hunger caused by infections and diets lacking in essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron, and zinc. This is particularly the case in the developing world, where diets mainly consist of starchy staples and not enough nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and pulses, and animal source foods.

But what if those food staples that people eat regularly were made to work toward better nutrition? And how does that fit with the need for dietary diversification? Dietary diversity is a strong predictor of micronutrient adequacy and overall diet quality. Increasing availability and access to a nutritionally diverse range of foods within and across different food groups is key to ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients required for healthy, productive lives... 

However, getting people to eat more nutrient-rich foods and fewer staples is very challenging, especially in resource-poor settings where access, availability, and affordability are constrained. Purchasing decisions related to food are driven by income, culture, and personal preference, and have also been shown to be price sensitive... As income goes up, dietary diversity improves as more diverse and expensive foods are added.


However, incomes of the poorest would have to increase by ten-fold or more to achieve adequate mineral and vitamin intake levels. Entire generations would continue to suffer from micronutrient deficiencies before that magnitude of increase in income could be achieved. In some cases, increased spending on food does not translate into nutritional gains at all as the consumption of empty calories... also typically increases with higher incomes. This highlights the essential role of nutrition education and promoting the health benefits of nutritionally sound food choices.

Because food staples are consumed regularly in large quantities, biofortification is an efficient and cost-effective way of bringing more micronutrients to the diets of the poor. It contributes to improving the diet quality of populations, and can be viewed as integral to dietary diversity. Biofortification is not promoted to increase consumption of staples. Rather, it is used to substitute some or all of the non-biofortified equivalent staples from the diet with better and more micronutrient-rich varieties. Such a strategy recognizes that there are limits on how much energy should be derived from carbohydrates, and does not encourage people to solely rely upon, or increase, the consumption of biofortified staples as they cannot provide the full array of nutrients... 

The long term goal is for diets to become more nutritionally diversified as combinations of foods have interactions and benefits beyond supplying single micronutrients. Reviving the importance of locally available nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans and pulses within food systems and ensuring greater market access are key strategies to achieve a more diversified diet... 


Biofortified crops present a huge opportunity to provide basic missing nutrients, but also to educate consumers about the benefits of a diverse diet and to promote other locally available nutritious crops. Such efforts are already being deployed at scale in countries such as Uganda, where the promotion of vitamin A orange sweet potato (OSP) and iron beans is accompanied with nutrition education on other good sources of these micronutrients in the local diet... Biofortification should not be seen as a rival or even a complement to dietary diversification, but as an integral component of food-based solutions to improve nutrition and public health by providing people with an array of healthier food choices. 

 

http://www.harvestplus.org/content/dietary-diversity-and-biofortification-closer-you-think

 

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Top UN forum on food security focuses on eradicating hunger by 2030 - UN (2015)

Top UN forum on food security focuses on eradicating hunger by 2030 - UN (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Marking the first international gathering on food security and nutrition since world leaders approved the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) commenced... focusing on ending hunger by 2030...

 

The CFS is an intergovernmental body that serves as a forum for the review and follow up of food security and nutrition policies. It also gives the opportunity for participants from civil society and the private sector to have a voice in policy decisions... 

 

The four-day meeting will include remarks by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) President Kanayo F. Nwanze and World Food Programe (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, as well as discussions on nutrition policies and initiatives that focus on youth engagement in the global pledge to eradicate hunger... 

 

Discussions are also expected to approve the Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises, a voluntary agreement which seeks to ensure that humanitarian and development efforts are integrated in the increasing number of areas undergoing protracted crises, with a special focus on the nutritional needs of infants and the most vulnerable people... 

 

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52230

 

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Impact of agricultural technology adoption on asset ownership: the case of improved cassava varieties in Nigeria - Awotide &al (2015) - Food Sec

Impact of agricultural technology adoption on asset ownership: the case of improved cassava varieties in Nigeria - Awotide &al (2015) - Food Sec | Food Policy | Scoop.it

This paper analyses the effects of the adoption of improved cassava varieties (ICVs) on asset ownership among smallholder farmers... Adoption of ICVs is positively related to asset ownership... ICVs had greater impact on asset ownership among female-headed households... Improved agricultural technologies can play a key role in strengthening asset ownership of smallholder farmers for increased agricultural productivity and income generation. 

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12571-015-0500-7

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:

Improved crop varieties help smallholder farmers... 

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Global Nutrition Report 2015: Actions and accountability to advance nutrition and sustainable development - IFPRI (2015)

Global Nutrition Report 2015: Actions and accountability to advance nutrition and sustainable development - IFPRI (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

With one in three people malnourished worldwide, nutrition is a powerful driver of sustainable development – it has the power to either propel the agenda forward or hold it back.

Children whose growth is stunted, people who don’t get enough vitamins and minerals for a healthy life, adults who are overweight and obese – malnutrition takes many forms and affects every country on earth. A problem of staggering size, malnutrition is widespread enough to threaten the world’s sustainable development ambitions.

The Global Nutrition Report 2015 is a report card on the world’s nutrition – globally, regionally, and country by country – and on efforts to improve it. It assesses countries’ progress in meeting global nutrition targets established by the World Health Assembly. It documents how well countries, aid donors, NGOs, businesses, and others are meeting the commitments they made... And it spells out the actions that proven effective in combating malnutrition in all its forms.

The 2015 report makes it clear that global progress to reduce malnutrition has been slow and uneven. Nearly half of all countries face multiple serious burdens of malnutrition such as poor child growth, micronutrient deficiency, and adult overweight and obesity. No country is on track to achieve the global nutrition targets...

The Global Nutrition Report 2015 also highlights the critical relationship between climate change and nutrition, as well as the pivotal role business can play in advancing nutrition. It considers how countries can build food systems that are more nutrition friendly and sustainable.

With a wealth of data and analysis, the report aims to improve accountability among the governments, institutions, businesses, and others whose actions affect people’s nutrition. It is accompanied by extensive supplementary online data, including nutritional profiles for 193 countries...

 

http://www.ifpri.org/publication/global-nutrition-report-2015

 

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China: A Growing Appetite for U.S. Rice? - Stratfor (2015)

China: A Growing Appetite for U.S. Rice? - Stratfor (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

China and the United States are expected to sign an agreement to open up the Chinese rice market to U.S. producers... China's agricultural policies are gradually changing, but the country's policy of self-sufficiency for rice will likely remain. The policy limits the percentage of total rice consumption that China can legally import, but given how much rice China consumes, it is still a lucrative market for global exporters... Because of incompatible quality control regulations, up until now U.S. exporters have not been able to tap into the Chinese rice market. Even so, in anticipation of an eventual deal, many U.S. producers have been making the necessary adjustments to bring their crops in line with Chinese standards.

International rice prices are low despite imbalances in supply and demand, though U.S. export prices are currently much higher than those of its competitors. Thus, when the export protocol is signed, U.S. exporters can at best expect to fill niche demand for high-quality rice in China. But regardless of price fluctuations, the long-term potential of U.S. rice exports to China is uncertain because of China's evolving regulatory environment. 

 

There has been much scrutiny of Chinese President Xi Jinping's controversial first official visit to the United States. But agricultural trade policies have been eclipsed by more exciting topics such as cyber security and the potential implementation of sanctions. However, a deal that has long been advocated by U.S. rice producers and that would allow U.S. rice to enter the Chinese market is set to be signed during the visit. Nevertheless, the market for rice will not be opened up as much as the soybean market was in the 1990s, and Beijing will maintain self-sufficiency policies for rice because of its centrality in the Chinese diet... 

 

Both price and taste preference could hamper the United States' push to enter the Chinese market... But concerns over the quality in domestic rice production and reports of heavy metal contamination in Chinese rice will certainly help boost the desirability and perceived quality of imports... there may be a market for U.S. rice in China after all: the high-end...  

 

The U.S. rice industry will likely experience additional regulatory hurdles as China's food security strategy matures. And whether because of some infestation or disease (China still has a ban on beef imports... because of a mad cow case in 2003) or because of contamination from genetically modified strains (corn imports were turned back in 2014 because of alleged contamination), China could still suddenly revoke the privilege to import. In 2006, a genetically modified strain of rice was detected in the U.S. export supply, causing temporary restrictions to be put in place for other export destinations.

 

Considering the resource scarcity much of the world will face in the coming years and decades, genetic engineering is poised to be a growing part of agricultural strategy, and so contamination will only become more likely. Even though there is already domestic development of genetically modified strains of rice, Beijing is likely to be extremely cautious about accepting foreign genetically modified crops, especially for staples like rice. Furthermore, as Beijing seeks to build up its own agricultural biotech sector as part of its food security strategy, we could see regulations shift accordingly.

 

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/china-growing-appetite-us-rice

 

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Peak Environmental Impact - Blomqvist &al (2015) - Mark Lynas

Peak Environmental Impact - Blomqvist &al (2015) - Mark Lynas | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Many of the key drivers of environmental destruction are slowing down. The rate of population growth is nearly half today what it was in 1970. The global population could peak as early as the middle of this century. By some calculations, the amount of farmland needed to grow food globally has already peaked. And per capita water use, food consumption, and material use have all already peaked in rich countries, and many developing ones as well.

Taken together, these trends suggest a truly remarkable possibility: overall human impacts on the environment could peak and then decline within the next several decades. How soon we hit the peak, and how rapidly impacts decline, depends on how quickly key trends driving the slowing of environmental impacts can be accelerated. And therein lies the rub for environmentalists: to get to peak environmental impact quickly, we will need to accelerate key economic and technological processes that greens have long opposed.

Consider population. The primary determinant of whether global population peaks around 2050 at 9 billion people or 2100 at 11 billion will be how quickly sub-saharan Africa develops. The faster Africa moves its population out of the subsistence agrarian economy and into cities, the faster population will stabilize. That’s because in the agrarian economy, children are needed to work the fields and support aging parents in circumstances in which there is no social safety net to speak of. When families move to the city, fertility rates fall from as many as 5 or 6 to 2 or fewer... 

 

The one driver of global environmental impacts that doesn’t slow when populations urbanize and economies modernize is energy consumption. But here again, accommodating the development imperatives of a global population that remains overwhelmingly poor – while mitigating the environmental consequences of energy consumption – forces the green movement to reconsider some long held shibboleths... 

All energy production comes with tradeoffs... While the environmental consequences of continuing growth in energy consumption can’t be eliminated, they can be significantly mitigated. Sub-saharan Africa has enormous hydro-electric potential and is rich in natural gas... Many poor and emerging economies are also increasingly turning to nuclear energy... hands-down the best source of energy for the environment, producing large quantities of reliable zero-pollution power on a tiny patch of land while the tiny quantity of radioactive waste nuclear produces is easily and safely stored.

The environmental benefits of accelerating urbanization, agricultural productivity, and decarbonization are enormous. With far higher yields on larger farms, marginal farmlands revert back to grasslands and forest. Urbanization, agricultural modernization, and rising incomes from industrialization take pressure off of parks and protected areas in poor countries... 


That future is by no means automatic. Accelerating the diffusion of better and cleaner agriculture and energy technologies is a program that governments and global institutions ought to be able to get behind... To realize the our full potential to shrink the human footprint and bring back more nature, we’ll need better technologies still. We’ll need next generation nuclear plants that can’t meltdown and burn their own waste; seeds that produce their own pesticides and better tolerate drought on a hotter planet; water recycling and desalination... 

Peak human impact is an inspiring vision, and it is within sight... 

 

http://www.marklynas.org/2015/09/peak-environmental-impact/

 

 

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Paying farmers to help the environment works, but ‘perverse’ subsidies must be balanced - Cambridge (2015)

Paying farmers to help the environment works, but ‘perverse’ subsidies must be balanced - Cambridge (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

First analysis of effectiveness of agri-environment schemes measured at a national level suggests that they work, but are still a drop in the ocean compared to huge government subsidies received by farming industries for environmentally damaging practices. 

New research suggests that offering financial incentives for farming industries to mitigate the impact agriculture has on the environment, by reducing fertiliser use and ‘sparing’ land for conservation, for example, actually has a positive effect on critical areas such as greenhouse gas reduction and increased biodiversity.

It has been a point of contention whether such ‘cash for conservation’ initiatives succeed. For the latest study, researchers aggregated investment in environmental incentives at a national level for the first time, and, by comparing them to broad trends in environmental outcomes, found that paying the agriculture industry to help the environment seems to be working.

However, ... around 20% of the value of agriculture production in the EU is subsidised by the taxpayer. However, less than 1% goes towards mitigating the toll farming takes on the natural world – despite agriculture contributing more to environmental degradation than any other economic sector... The team describe current agriculture funding models as ‘perverse subsidies’: promoting negative actions in both the long and short term by being bad for the environment and costly to the economy.

They argue for a redressing of the massive imbalance between government money spent on farming subsidies, and that spent on lessening the damage farming does to the environment. Consumption of environmental services, such as water (crop irrigation alone counts for 70% of the world’s freshwater withdrawals), should be taxed... and any subsidies should be paid on the proviso that they are as much for protecting the land as for farming it... 

“In many parts of the world, governments already provide huge subsidies to the agriculture industry; if we are paying people to be farmers, part of that payment – indeed, part of the job of a farmer – needs to be protecting the countryside as well as farming it... We need a shift in what it means to be a farmer”... 

However... paying farmers to be more environmentally-friendly won’t solve the problem of food security, and if these schemes reduce crop yields it may result in increased production elsewhere: “displacing the impacts that we are paying some farmers to mitigate”... in the worst cases, this results in further land being sucked into the agricultural churn.

“A result of many agri-environment schemes is the spreading out – or ‘sharing’ – of land for both farming and the natural environment. A lot of research... shows that this is less effective than simply removing the land from production – ‘sparing’ it for conservation.” “The most logical solution would be to intensify production on existing lands, trying to minimise environmental impacts with regulations, incentives for good environmental performance, or consumption taxes, while protecting land elsewhere for conservation”...

The researchers say that tackling the huge disparity between government subsidies and environmental incentives needs to be the first step in reducing conflict between agriculture and the natural environment, something they say has traditionally been difficult to achieve because of the power behind agri-food lobbies. They write that while governments continue to subsidise production and famers are not accountable for the costs of their actions because associated penalties are trivial, damaging the environment will remain highly financially lucrative – with devastating consequences.

However, simply removing subsidies alone fails to reduce environmental harm, and incentives for better farming practices are still required. In the paper, researchers look at the case of New Zealand, where there are no subsidies or mitigation schemes, and much of the country has been transformed into a massive dairy farm for China as a result... “Subsidies for production date from the post-war era, when feeding a booming population was paramount. Food security is, of course, still a major issue as populations continue to rise, but there are ways to deliver this without destroying the planet”... 

 

http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/paying-farmers-to-help-the-environment-works-but-perverse-subsidies-must-be-balanced

Original article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002242


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Global Food Security 2030: Assessing Trends in View of Guiding Future EU Policies - JRC (2015)

Global Food Security 2030: Assessing Trends in View of Guiding Future EU Policies - JRC (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Despite its multifaceted nature, the debate surrounding food security over the last few decades has largely focused on production and on the challenges facing the agricultural system. Food security has also been directly associated with hunger, poverty and humanitarian aspects.

 

Although agriculture and fisheries are fundamental and essential components of the food system, it is misguided to address the future of food security without looking at the system's many other determinants... The JRC Foresight on Global Food Security 2030 brought together a group of experts and stakeholders to develop a vision for food security in 2030. This vision was then challenged in a test of resilience to unexpected occurrences and/or underestimated trends. The entire process was designed to establish a structured and inclusive discussion that could be useful for guiding future EU policies.

 

This report shows that it is essential for Europe to move towards an integrated examination of a much broader landscape. By 2030 and beyond, food security will increasingly be considered as securing food supply in response to changing and growing global demand. Food security is not only a global and systemic challenge, but also an opportunity for the EU to play a role in innovation, trade, health, wealth generation and geopolitics. Better coordination and coherence at EU level are necessary in order to move from a food-security to a food-systems approach... 

 

Vision 2030 foresees a significant reduction in the relative number of undernourished people and that food security will be guaranteed on a sustainable basis via:

 

• The significant transformation of agriculture production systems (through investments, research and training);

 

• Maintenance of an adequate enabling environment in rural areas (rural development);

 

• A food system where production and consumption are balanced between local, regional and global levels (markets and trade); and

 

• A largely demand-driven food system where responsible consumer behaviour shapes sustainable objectives.

 

Current EU food security policies and initiatives are largely in line with the first two key features... These interventions put smallholder farmers in the most food-insecure regions at the centre of the strategies and rely on the transformation of their activities into competitive and sustainable agribusinesses.

 

This will lead to the achievement of three objectives: 1) ensuring food security; 2) escaping the poverty trap; and 3) fostering the sustainable use of natural resources. Within this approach, global food markets are seen as new and fruitful opportunities for smallholder farming, as long as infrastructure, risk-management mechanisms and information systems are put in place. A special focus on nutrition is maintained and attention is paid to coordination between public and private stakeholders...

 

https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/eur-scientific-and-technical-research-reports/global-food-security-2030-assessing-trends-view-guiding-future-eu-policies

 

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Meat Food Waste has Greater Negative Environmental Impact Than Vegetable Waste - Univ Missouri (2015)

Meat Food Waste has Greater Negative Environmental Impact Than Vegetable Waste - Univ Missouri (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Approximately 31 percent of food produced in the U.S., or 133 billion pounds of food worth $162 billion, was wasted in 2011... Now... researchers have found that the type of food wasted has a significant impact on the environment. Although less meat is wasted (on average) compared to fruits and vegetables, the researchers found that significantly more energy is used in the production of meat compared to the production of vegetables. This wasted energy is usually in the form of resources that can have negative impacts on the surrounding environment, such as diesel fuel or fertilizer being released into the environment.

“While many of us are concerned about food waste, we also need to consider the resources that are wasted when we throw away edible food... Farm equipment used to feed and maintain livestock and plant and harvest crops uses a lot of diesel fuel and other utilities from fossil fuels. When people waste meat, these fuels, as well as fertilizers, are also wasted. Based on our study, we recommend that people and institutions be more conscious of not only the amount but the types of food being wasted.”

During the study, pre- and post-consumer food waste was collected from four all-you-care-to-eat dining facilities over three months in 2014... created a detailed inventory of the specific types of food waste: meat, vegetables or starches. The food waste also was categorized as either edible or inedible (peels and ends of fruits and vegetables).

Once the food waste was categorized... research team analyzed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from fertilizer use, vehicle transportation, and utility use on the farm. GHG emission estimates were measured from cradle (land preparation or animal birth) to farm gate (when the grain or animal was sent to a processing facility). Previous studies have shown that the majority of GHG emissions occur in the production stages prior to the farm products’ leaving the farm.

“Based on the findings, we recommend consumers pay special attention to avoiding waste when purchasing and preparing meat; if consumers choose to prepare extra food ‘just in case,’ they should use plant-based foods”... Future research should... improve production as well as ordering decisions to reduce food waste and corresponding GHG emissions.

 

http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2015/0812-meat-food-waste-has-greater-negative-environmental-impact-than-vegetable-waste/

 

Original article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1742170515000071

 

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Potato harvest reduced by half - ETH (2015)

Potato harvest reduced by half - ETH (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

On the way from field to fork, more than half of the potato harvest is lost... Food waste is today's hot topic... scientists... have now identified one product that is discarded disproportionately often: the potato... The study breaks down the losses of this staple food along the entire supply chain... 

 

Until now, precise figures on potato waste were only available from England... For the Swiss study, the researchers... examined the losses that occur at the producer, wholesaler, retailer, processor and consumer level. The researchers recorded the quantities both of table potatoes and of processing potatoes, which are processed into chips and crisps. They also compared the losses that occur in organically and non-organically produced potatoes in both categories... 

"Overall, potato waste is also very high in Switzerland"... From the field to the home, 53 percent of conventionally produced table potatoes are wasted, and this figure rises to 55 percent for those produced organically. For processing potatoes, the figures are lower: 41 percent of organic potatoes are discarded, compared to 46 percent of those from conventional production.

 

The higher waste proportion for conventionally farmed processing potatoes is connected to the overproduction of this crop... Waste is greater for organically farmed table potatoes because these fail to satisfy the high quality standards more often than conventional ones. "After all, consumers have the same expectations of quality and appearance for organic production as they do for conventional."

Losses occur at all stages of the supply chain: up to a quarter of the table potato harvest falls by the wayside even at the producer stage. A further 12 to 24 percent are rejected by wholesalers during sorting. Just one to three percent fall between the cracks at retailers, and a further 15 percent are wasted in households.

Although private households account for a relatively small proportion of potato waste... their contribution has the most impact: in private homes, most of the unused potatoes end up in the bin bag or on the compost heap. Producers, traders and processors, on the other hand, recycle the vast majority of waste into animal fodder... 

 

The blame lies primarily with consumers' high quality standards, especially when it comes to fresh potatoes. This accounts for two thirds of the waste in respect of fresh potatoes from conventional farming. For organic potatoes, this figure rises to three quarters.

In order to reduce potato waste... the researcher suggests taking action on the producer side... to minimise infestation, by protecting plants against wireworms, and by breeding new, more-robust varieties of potatoes... 

 

https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2015/10/potato-harvest-reduced-by-half.html ;

Original article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2015.08.033 ;


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Malawi’s toxic harvest - SD (2015)

Malawi’s toxic harvest - SD (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Floods followed by drought have led to a 30 per cent reduction in Malawi’s maize harvest and left the country facing its most severe food crisis for over ten years. Between now and March, more than two million Malawians will struggle to find enough food...

On top of this, much of the harvest will be contaminated with a toxin that can cause cancer and liver damage, and stunt children’s growth. Aflatoxins are produced by fungi that contaminate crops... The stress of drought increases the risk of contamination. Throughout the developing world, it is estimated that around 4.5 billion people are exposed...

In Malawi... nearly two-thirds of people tested were “highly exposed” to aflatoxins. They also discovered that 73 per cent of samples of groundnut powder were contaminated at levels above the European Union safety limit... 

 

http://www.scidev.net/global/food-security/multimedia/malawi-toxic-harvest.html

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:

This is why it's important to protect crops (from drought, from pests or from other abiotic or biotic stresses) and not to sweepingly discard any one technology that could help improve crop protection... 

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Opinion: We Can End Hunger. Here's How - Nat Geographic (2015)

Opinion: We Can End Hunger. Here's How - Nat Geographic (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

José Graziano da Silva is Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: 

 

The international community has embraced a new goal, the eradication of hunger by 2030. That makes us the zero hunger generation with a shared commitment to make hunger history... We need to break out of the cycles that trap people in poverty and hunger. In a business as usual scenario, more than 600 million people are still likely to be hungry in 2030. That’s a long way from zero. 

Eradicating hunger requires commitment—political will. It will require sustained efforts in many areas, particularly pro-poor investments in rural areas, where the majority of the world’s most vulnerable live. Economic growth alone will not suffice; it needs to be socially inclusive to ensure sufficient access to food for all.

Pro-poor public investments include infrastructure benefitting smallholder family farmers, ensuring sustainable agriculture, reducing post-harvest food losses, strengthening land and water rights, and making sure that the poor and marginalized... have fair access to credit, farm inputs including seed and fertilizers, and the extension services that provide training and advice to rural smallholders... 

We need to promote wider and deeper use of social protection programmes to lift people out of poverty permanently by ensuring people do not slip back into it. Social protection refers to programmes to provide basic needs... Social protection schemes can take many forms... If well designed, they enable the poorest to undertake activities to earn more, rising above the poverty line... Such schemes work and are affordable, especially compared to the cost and price of doing nothing.

Social protection offsets income shortfalls so that vulnerable households can avoid livelihood and food security shocks, which are particularly hard for rural households that are dependent on agriculture to recover from. But it can do much more: it can help millions of family farmers and rural labourers move beyond short-termist survival tactics, and enable them to invest more in productive activities as well as their children’s health and education... 

Increasing the purchasing power of the poor also benefits the wider community by increasing business opportunities, triggering a virtuous local economic growth cycle... But social protection programmes, on their own, will not be enough. We need to integrate them with pro-poor agricultural investment programmes to derive more virtuous synergies.

Political commitment, partnerships and adequate funding are key to realizing this vision... We know what to do. We have the tools. Now we’ve made the pledge. So we must be the zero hunger generation. 

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/151016-world-food-day-hunger-poverty-agriculture-development/

 

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Rice off the menu: Asia's hunger for bread and pastries boosts wheat demand - Reuters (2015)

Rice off the menu: Asia's hunger for bread and pastries boosts wheat demand - Reuters (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Asia is losing some of its appetite for rice in favor of wheat... From working mothers, who find toast more convenient to prepare for breakfast, to city dwellers flocking to new eateries for baguettes, South Koreans are at the forefront of an Asia-wide trend that has seen wheat demand climb at nearly twice the rate of rice consumption since 2008.

And while Asia is largely self sufficient in rice, demand for bread and noodles from Mumbai to Manila has made Asia the largest and fastest growing market for wheat imports, shipping in more than 40 million tonnes annually for the past five years or 25 percent of world imports... 

 

With wheat production relatively low in some countries in Asia... there is little alternative but to import more. Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Canada, the United States and Europe have been the chief beneficiaries of Asian wheat demand, seeing collective exports swell by over 40 percent since 2005.


But the relentless climb in wheat consumption does place a strain on exporters... "When you look at wheat con

sumption, it is to a very large degree driven by general increase in consumption as well as swap out of rice and other staples... We need to produce a record crop every year just to meet the demand." 


http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/15/us-southkorea-wheat-idUSKCN0S82PE20151015


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Resolving Conflicts between Agriculture and the Natural Environment - Tanentzap &al (2015) - PLoS Biol

Resolving Conflicts between Agriculture and the Natural Environment - Tanentzap &al (2015) - PLoS Biol | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Agriculture dominates the planet. Yet it has many environmental costs that are unsustainable, especially as global food demand rises. Here, we evaluate ways in which different parts of the world are succeeding in their attempts to resolve conflict between agriculture and wild nature. We envision that coordinated global action in conserving land most sensitive to agricultural activities and policies that internalise the environmental costs of agriculture are needed to deliver a more sustainable future...  

 

Improvements in the management of land resources in developing countries, new technologies that optimally allocate farm inputs to reduce overuse, advances in crop breeding, and tools for better conservation planning give us hope that innovations exist for meeting the need for more sustainable and intensive agriculture.


http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002242

 

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Sound advice on meat-eating in the US just got slaughtered - New Scientist (2015)

Sound advice on meat-eating in the US just got slaughtered - New Scientist (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The top nutrition advisory panel in the US offered some common-sense advice to the federal agencies writing the nation’s dietary guidelines: Americans... should be urged to eat less meat for the sake of the environment... The Obama administration effectively responded “Thanks, but our hands are tied”. 

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack and health and human services secretary Sylvia Burwell, whose agencies are currently at work writing the final guidelines, buried the news in a joint statement... The timing of the announcement, though, tells us plenty about why Vilsack and Burwell decided to ignore an expert panel that their agencies have traditionally listened closely to...

Both secretaries were scheduled to testify in front of the Republican-led House Committee on Agriculture. The panel’s chairman, K. Michael Conaway, was among the Republican leaders who had a freak-out, supported by the livestock industry, over the idea that the administration would dare to consider the sustainability of Americans diets – particularly... telling people to cut down on their meat intake... 

The Obama administration is simply, albeit sadly, unwilling to open up another front in Washington’s climate wars at a time when Republicans are unwilling to accept the scientific consensus about global warming... 

The eat-less-meat proposal had the backing of both public health officials, who argued that it could save the nation billions of dollars in healthcare costs, and climate scientists, who saw it as a way to curb US emissions... The climate case for eating less meat is particularly powerful: livestock accounts for 14.5 per cent of the world’s human-caused emissions... 

A typical meat-eater’s diet is responsible for almost twice as much global warming as your typical vegetarian’s and almost triple that of a vegan... Cutting your meat intake in half could cut your carbon footprint by more than 35 per cent. Beef is particularly damaging to the planet... it results in five times more greenhouse gas emissions than pork or chicken, while requiring 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation.

In the end, though, science never seemed to have much of a chance against the meat industry, which has a history of flexing its lobbying muscles until policymakers in Washington submit to its will... 

 

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28298-sound-advice-on-meat-eating-in-the-us-just-got-slaughtered/

 

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Protein security and food security in China - Ruan &al (2015) - Frontiers Ag Sci Eng

Food security, the need to meet nutritional requirements, and four main problems for food protein security in China are analyzed. From the perspective of residents’ nutritional requirements and balanced dietary patterns, the conclusion is that food security in China is in essence dependent on protein production and security of supply and that fat and carbohydrates supply in China can reach self-sufficiency.

 

Considering the situation of food protein production and consumption in China, policy suggestions are made, which could ensure a balanced supply and demand for food protein and food security in China... 

 

Currently vegetable protein (2.5 Mt) and animal protein (9.0 Mt) available in China come from imported meat products or are indirectly produced from imported agricultural products, including imported soybeans (63 Mt). The country’s self-sufficiency rate of edible proteins is 73.1%, and the self-sufficiency rate for protein feeds is about 52.6%... Therefore, from the perspective of nutritional requirements and food quality, the grain security issue is, in essence, dependent on protein production and supply... 

 

Soybean and fish meal are the main proteins in good supply for quality feed, but these are lacking in China and must be imported in large amount. In 2013, domestic production of soybeans was 12.6 Mt and imports were 63.4 Mt, meaning the dependence on imported soybean was 83.9%. During the period from 2004 to 2010, the external dependence of China on fish meal remained above 70%. Thus, protein supply in China showed obvious characteristics of limited domestic production growth, sharp increase of imports, and high foreign dependence... 


Therefore, the food security policy in China can be refined as an issue of protein security. The potential increase in the amount of protein (9.27 Mt) produced by processing and preserving techniques can replace 80.5% of imported protein. A number of measures should be adopted to raise people's awareness of nutrition and improve their consumption behavior to achieve best practice in use of precious protein resources.

 

http://engineering.cae.cn/fase/article/2015/2095-7505/12597

 

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Why Micronutrient Deficiency Is a Macro-Problem - National Geographic (2015)

Why Micronutrient Deficiency Is a Macro-Problem - National Geographic (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

When we think about food, most of us are mulling over... macronutrients: proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates... Equally important, however, are micronutrients – food constituents that we only need in tiny pinches, but that nonetheless are essential for our health and survival. And the problem is that a lot of us aren’t getting enough of them...

Micronutrients, ... “vitamins and minerals,” are a minuscule, but important, bunch of chemicals that include – among others – iodine, iron, zinc, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, and E. Worldwide... over 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, a condition referred to as “hidden hunger,” since victims often are subsisting on diets... that provide them with needed calories but deprive them of adequate nutrition... You may not necessarily feel hungry, but you really – dangerously – are.

 

Hidden hunger is an insidious and often under-the-radar condition, leading to susceptibility to disease, increased childhood mortality, stunted growth, cognitive impairment, and lousy economic productivity... Hidden hunger may be the evil genius that condemns entire societies to seemingly unbreakable cycles of poverty...

 

Take iodine... essential for normal growth and neurological development... Globally... 18 million babies a year are born mentally impaired because of iodine deficiency. Maternal iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in stillbirths, spontaneous abortions, or... cretinism. Despite these unhappy statistics, iodine is still one of the world’s nutritional success stories... Today about 75 percent of the world’s population has access to iodized salt...

 

The world’s most common micronutrient deficiency... is iron deficiency... that affects... about 30 percent of the world’s population – a total of over 2 billion people. Iron deficiency is a relentlessly debilitating but frequently unrecognized disease, since its effects are often long-term and subtle. Among these are impeded physical and cognitive development, depression and fatigue, poor school and work performance, and premature death. Eighty-two countries now have legislation in place mandating fortification of staples...

 

Another micronutrient problem of global scope is Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), today the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Worldwide, about... 250,000 to 500,000 become blind each year and about half of whom die. VAD also so weakens the immune system that millions of its victims die each year... To combat VAD, about 20 countries have mandated fortification of common cooking oils with Vitamin A...

One of the most promising solutions to the world’s Vitamin A deficiency crisis is Golden Rice, a genetically-modified breed of rice originally developed by the non-profit International Rice Research Institute... It contains switched-on genes for the manufacture of beta-carotene, which our bodies use to manufacture Vitamin A.

In the best of circumstances, we get our beta-carotene from fruits and vegetables – carrots, kale, spinach, squash, apricots, plums, peppers – but such a solution usually isn’t an option for the world’s poor. A single bowl of the latest permutation of Golden Rice, on the other hand, provides 60 percent of a child’s daily requirement of Vitamin A.

 

The scientific consensus is that genetically modified crops such as Golden Rice are safe and effective, and it’s unfortunate, if not tragic, that fear-mongering and misinformation have put the brakes on this potential fix for VAD. Because for the macro-problem of micronutrients, the world needs all the help it can get.

http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/23/why-micronutrient-deficiency-is-a-macro-problem/

 

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Malawi's President Appeals for International Food Aid - VOA (2015)

Malawi's President Appeals for International Food Aid - VOA (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Malawi's President Peter Mutharika has appealed for international help to cope with an expected food shortage that could affect 17 percent of the country’s population during the coming months. In his national address on the food situation on Monday, Mutharika said people in 25 of the country’s 28 districts are at risk of hunger.

“Total of 2,833,212 people will not be able to meet their annual food requirement. In view of this I would like to appeal to all... in Malawi and elsewhere to complement government sources in assisting the food-insecure households... Based on the historical trend, that assessment is likely to show a larger number of people facing hunger than is the case now”... 

Mutharika said Malawi needs about $150 million to attend to those in need of food assistance. The food deficit is a result of low yields of the main staple, maize, largely because of recent flooding which damaged at least 64,000 hectares of crop fields, mostly in southern Malawi. It is estimated that an additional 120,000 metric tons of maize will be needed to support the affected people... 

But... past experience shows maize imports are not necessarily a means to avert a hunger situation. “We had a drought situation here in 1999-2000 season. About 42,000 people died not because there was no maize but because the price of maize was inflated by over 100 percent and they could not afford the maize”... Meanwhile, Malawi's national grain marketer has increased the price of maize... by five percent – a move many feel will affect... poorer Malawians... 

 

http://www.voanews.com/content/malawi-president-appeals-for-international-food-aid/2975011.html

 

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Feeding the Developing World: Six Major Challenges - U Penn (2015)

Feeding the Developing World: Six Major Challenges - U Penn (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Today, one in nine of the world’s 7.3 billion people — more than 800 million men, women and children — don’t get enough to eat, despite the fact that more than enough food is produced daily to feed everyone on Earth (at least based on calories)... Inadequate nutrition kills more than three million children under age 5 every year, and is responsible for 45% of all such global deaths. Worldwide, one in six kids (a total of about 100 million) is underweight... 

Some progress is being made, however. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports a drop of 42% in the number of chronically hungry people in the developing world since 1990, although China alone accounts for the vast majority of this progress (the reduction would have been just 7% without China’s contribution).

Making more progress on hunger means facing up to the following six challenges:

1. Population Growth. The FAO notes that world population growth is slowing, but the U.N. still projects an additional 2.3 billion people by 2050... Estimates of how much more food will be needed to feed this growing population range from 60% to 100%... 

2. Food Waste... Enough food exists to feed 10 billion people today. Unfortunately, it’s not only inadequately distributed but also... wasted... “throughout the supply chain, from initial production down to final household consumption... due to problems in harvesting, storage, packing, transport, infrastructure or market/price mechanisms, as well as institutional and legal frameworks.” While more than half of all food waste (56%) occurs in the developed world... the most severe food losses occur in Asia... More than 80% of all this waste occurs in just three stages – 24% in production, 24% in handling and storage and 35% in consumption. “In the west, it occurs on the plate... In the developing world, the biggest problems are during production and the journey from the farm to the city. These are two different issues that have to be addressed.”

3. Climate Change. “Trying to understand the overall effect of climate change on our food supply can be difficult... Overall, climate change could make it more difficult to grow crops, raise animals and catch fish in the same ways and same places as we have done in the past” ... Climate change would reduce crop yields by more than 10% by 2050... an additional 25 million children would be malnourished... Climate-induced changes will affect food prices, a critical consideration for the world’s poor.


4. What People Eat... Livestock consumption in the U.S. and Canada could actually drop 2% between 2006 and 2050, but increase 46% in China and 94% in India... by 2050, average global consumption of meat protein will be 73% higher than in 2011. Dairy consumption is also on an upward trajectory, scheduled to grow 58%... A switch to meat-based diets, which are resource-intensive, has clear implications for agricultural productivity and feeding a growing world population. Much new meat production would come from the intensive systems... such methods “are a concern because of potential environmental impacts, such as groundwater pollution and greenhouse gas emissions” ... But people could be convinced that industrially produced meat isn’t the best bet for their future... 

5. Water Risk. “The water issue is more imminent than climate change... We’re overpumping our aquifers virtually everywhere in the world to support the current population... The world is running up a vast water deficit” ... The number of rivers in China dropped from 50,000 in 1950 to 23,000 in 2013. In India... “Water tables are falling in every state. And aquifer depletion can shrink harvests, something we’ve seen in the Middle East. The grain harvest in Texas and Oklahoma has been affected in that way, and that’s in part because those states are on the shallow, southern end of the Ogallala Aquifer” ... in the Texas High Plains, 10 times as much water is being pumped out of the aquifer than is being replaced by rainfall... Scarcity in arid and semi-arid places, mostly in the developing world, will affect – and displace – up to 700 million people... 70% of global water withdrawals are for agriculture, and that meeting the food needs of nine billion people by 2050 will require a 15% increase in those withdrawals.

6. Global Conflict and Food Insecurity. Food insecurity is both a cause of civil conflict, and a result of it... In 2007 and 2008, food protests and riots occurred in 48 countries as a result of record high prices. In 2011... protests in North Africa and the Middle East (toppling two presidents)... “In addition to the humanitarian tragedies associated with these conflicts, the destruction of infrastructure, together with disruptions in access to markets, often renders goods and services prohibitively expensive... investors and tourists often abandon conflict-affected areas, and clashes between conflicting parties force millions of refugees to flee... As a result, economies often contract, instability and insecurity spill over national borders, and food and nutrition insecurity rises” ... 

 

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/feeding-the-developing-world-six-major-challenges/

 
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Genotypic variation for seed protein and mineral content among post-rainy season-grown sorghum genotypes - Badigannavar &al (2015) - Crop J

Genotypic variation for seed protein and mineral content among post-rainy season-grown sorghum genotypes - Badigannavar &al (2015) - Crop J | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Sorghum is an important staple food crop of Asian and African countries. As a “poor man’s crop”, it provides dietary starch, protein, and some vitamins and minerals. Minerals are important for various physiological functions in the human body. As a major staple crop of central and southern Indian provinces, sorghum landraces are a source of supplementary micronutrients.

 

Concentrations of micronutrients and protein and yield parameters were studied... Univariate analysis revealed wide variation for iron, zinc, protein, and grain yield among the landraces. High estimates of genetic/phenotypic coefficient of variation, and genetic advances over the mean were identified... High heritabilities were also identified for yield and mineral content.

 

Correlation estimates among the genotypes indicated that grain yield was positively correlated with copper and protein with copper and zinc... The wide range of values with high heritability estimates may favour the use of these landraces in recombination breeding to improve nutritional quality in sorghum.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cj.2015.07.002

 

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World food supply at growing risk from severe weather - Science (2015)

World food supply at growing risk from severe weather - Science (2015) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

In 2007, drought struck the bread baskets of Europe, Russia, Canada, and Australia. Global grain stocks were already scant, so wheat prices began to rise rapidly. When countries put up trade barriers to keep their own harvests from being exported, prices doubled... Just 3 years later, another spike in food prices contributed to the Arab Spring uprisings.

Such weather-related crop disasters will become more likely with climate change, warns a detailed report released... by the Global Food Security (GFS) program, a network of public research funding agencies... “The risks are serious and should be a cause for concern”...

To create the lengthy evaluation, dozens of scientists, policy wonks, and industry experts examined the global food system and its vulnerabilities to severe weather. They created a “plausible” worst case scenario: drought hitting four key staples – wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans – simultaneously... If such a calamity struck next year, it would likely cause the price of grain to triple...

The chance of major global crop failures of this magnitude will increase with climate change, as drought, flooding, and heat waves strike fields more often. To estimate the odds, the researchers turned to existing models of how crops respond to temperature, precipitation, and other factors. By 2040, severe crop failures... are likely to happen every 3 decades... The ever larger volumes of globally traded food raise the risk of large price shocks. Biofuel mandates... are thought to exacerbate the problem...

Hardest hit would be developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as Ethiopia... where people would go hungry. Protests might erupt in middle income countries that depend on food imports, including Egypt. Consumers in rich countries, in comparison, would not see much of an effect on their wallets or dinner tables.

“Action is urgently needed to understand risks better, improve the resilience of the global food system to weather-related shocks and to mitigate their impact on people”... The committee recommends coordinated international action, such as creating an early warning system for price spikes, and improving agricultural insurance to help farmers cope with climate change... 

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aad1621

 

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