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Think differently: humanitarian impacts of the economic crisis in Europe - IFRC (2013)

Think differently: humanitarian impacts of the economic crisis in Europe - IFRC (2013) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Creating a sense of predictability and security has traditionally been attributed to what a society offers to its citizens. Today, as the economic crisis has planted its roots, millions of Europeans live with insecurity, uncertain about what the future holds.


This is one of the worst psychological states of mind for human beings and we now see a quiet desperation spreading among Europeans, resulting in depression, resignation and loss of hope for their future.

 

We are also seeing signs of this quiet desperation turning more vocal through demonstrations and violence. We fear that increased xenophobia and the lack of confidence in society being able to provide jobs and security may lead to more extreme views and actions, with social unrest as a consequence... 

 

Compared to 2009, millions more findthemselves queuing for food, unable to buy medicines nor access health care. Millions are without a job and many of those who still have work face difficulties to sustain their families due to insufficient wages and skyrocketing prices. Many from the middle class have spiralled down to poverty. The amount of people depending on Red Cross food distributions in 22 of the surveyed countries has increased by 75 per cent between 2009 and 2012... 

 

There are now more than 18 million people receiving EU-funded food aid, 43 million who do not get enough to eat each day and 120 million at risk of poverty in the countries covered by Eurostat. And while we still hope the crisis will end soon, for many it has just begun. Or is just about to begin... 

 

Children in poorhouseholds are especially vulnerable... children in poverty are missing out on holidays, school trips, warm winter coats, new shoes or clothes when grown out of old ones, and even on spending time with friends. As many as 12 per cent of parents involved in these studies said that their children regularly have to go without one of the daily meals. One in four parents admitted that they themselves skip meals or are making portions smaller to stretch food further. Poverty can hurt children. They may even blame themselves and feel guilt if they sense that their parents are giving up something for their sake... 

 

http://www.ifrc.org/en/publications-and-reports/general-publications/

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Rethinking the Measurement of Undernutrition in a Broader Health Context: Should We Look at Possible Causes or Actual Effects? - Stein (2014) - Global Food Security

Rethinking the Measurement of Undernutrition in a Broader Health Context: Should We Look at Possible Causes or Actual Effects? - Stein (2014) - Global Food Security | Food Policy | Scoop.it

When measuring food and nutrition security, focusing on proxy indicators such as food availability, or on selected head count figures such as stunting rates, gives an incomplete picture. Outcome-based global burden of disease (GBD) studies offer an alternative for monitoring the burden of chronic and hidden hunger. Judging by this measure, the international goal of halving global hunger between 1990 and 2015 has already been achieved.

 

Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) that are used as metric in GBD studies can be converted into more easily understood monetary terms. The resulting estimate of the annual cost of global hunger of up to 1.9 trillion international dollars may be better suited to illustrate the magnitude of the remaining problem...

 

It is pertinent to recall why we are concerned about hunger and malnutrition: because of the negative consequences it has for people’s health and well-being. Food and nutrition insecurity is usually defined in terms of what determines hunger... However, to measure hunger... the outcome of food and nutrition insecurity, i.e. the burden of disease that is caused by hunger, should be used...

 

One challenge when trying to measure health outcomes of undernutrition is the multitude of adverse health consequences that can be attributed to hunger, in particular to micronutrient deficiencies... Therefore the question is whether health can be measured in a consistent way across such diverse outcomes. To make the burden imposed by different health outcomes comparable... the World Bank introduced the concept of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)...

 

The WHO used DALYs to quantify the global burden of disease (GBD), for which it reported results at the country level and for a range of health outcomes. Based on these readily available data, DALYs can be used to quantify the global burden of hunger... A more recent GBD study... represents an improvement since it covers more causes and risk factors of poor nutrition... per year more than 160 million DALYs are lost due to hunger, which is more than 6 percent of the total burden of disease...

 

While... using DALYs to measure hunger is a better approach... one challenge for the use of DALYs is their abstractness: what exactly is a “disability-adjusted life year”? ... One way of illustrating the magnitude of the burden of hunger is to express it in money... While there are obvious problems with the monetization of social costs... it offers a coherent framework that permits conducting the kind of broad analyses and comparisons that are needed to guide policy making...

 

Using this approach produces an estimate for the global cost of hunger of Int$1.9 trillion per year, or 2.4 percent of world income. One indication that the global cost of hunger falls indeed into the trillion-dollar range is the estimate for the worldwide cost of undernutrition of US$1.4 trillion to US$2.1 trillion that the FAO gives... using a very different approach...

 

The “cost” of hunger is an opportunity cost, i.e. it provides an estimate for the additional annual national income that society foregoes by not solving undernutrition... One estimate of the costs that would have to be incurred to reach more than 80 percent of the world’s undernourished children with key nutrition interventions suggests this could be as (relatively) little as $10 billion a year, i.e. only one-hundredth of the current cost of hunger...

 

It is interesting to compare the estimate of the number of hungry people with that of the number of DALYs lost due to hunger over time. Judging by the FAO’s indicator, the achievement of MDG 1 is not very likely. However, if the objective was indeed more generally to “reduce hunger by half”, this has already been achieved – if hunger is measured using DALYs... in 1990 the burden of hunger was 320 million DALYs lost, but by 2010 this burden had already shrunk by half to 160 million DALYs lost...

 

The discrepancy in the assessment of the development of global hunger if based on food availability versus actual health outcomes might be surprising, but as... discussed above, food availability is but one determinant of (or input into) hunger, whereas DALYs measure the outcome of hunger that results from all inputs combined. In this case – in the presence of other, uncorrelated inputs into hunger that change over time – an indicator that monitors only one input is bound to show a different development than an indicator that measures the final outcome...

 

Not least in light of the discussion of the post-2015 development agenda... it is important that agreed-upon targets can be operationalized based on indicators that allow precise monitoring of progress… Stakeholders in food and nutrition security need to be aware of the advantages of outcome-based measures like DALYs... those working on GBD studies should pay more attention to undernutrition and to related health risks, and more frequent updates of the GBD or relevant subsets could further increase the usefulness of DALYs...

 

Using DALYs to quantify the burden of hunger has shown that the international efforts to improve global welfare are bearing fruit and that progress in the fight against undernutrition has been more rapid than is generally believed. Still, the problem of global hunger remains unresolved, and its magnitude becomes especially apparent when approximated in more familiar monetary terms. With more detailed, country-level DALYs data becoming available, further research can determine in which countries and for which nutrition-related health outcomes the biggest reductions in the burden of hunger have been achieved – and it can help explain why...

 

Original article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2014.09.003

 

Audio-slides, 4 min.: http://audioslides.elsevier.com/ViewerSmall.aspx?doi=10.1016/j.gfs.2014.09.003

 

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How Do African Farm Households Respond to Changes in Current and Past Weather Patterns? A Structural Panel Data Analysis from Malawi - AJAE (2017) 

How Do African Farm Households Respond to Changes in Current and Past Weather Patterns? A Structural Panel Data Analysis from Malawi - AJAE (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

We... [analyse] the response of smallholder farm households to current and past weather patterns, and the subsequent impacts on household net income. We also quantify heterogeneity among households along the wealth spectrum regarding their ability to adapt to evolving weather patterns... 


Adverse weather history prompts households to devote more time to maize cultivation on their own farms, to the detriment of other, possibly more remunerative income sources. Households also reduce application of productivity-enhancing inputs, such as fertilizer and improved maize varieties... By maintaining a more diversified income structure, wealthier households are better able to adapt to adverse weather history... 


Adverse changes in past weather may be regressive in nature, creating a “climate-induced” poverty trap that locks poor smallholder households into low-value maize cultivation from season to season... Developing more weather-resilient maize varieties and promoting smallholder livelihood diversification strategies may help mitigate the effects of adverse weather on the most vulnerable households. 


http://doi.org/10.1093/ajae/aax068


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Crops that feed the world: Production and improvement of cassava for food, feed, and industrial uses - Food Sec (2017) 

Crops that feed the world: Production and improvement of cassava for food, feed, and industrial uses - Food Sec (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Cassava is one of the oldest root and tuber crops, used by humans to produce food, feed and beverages. Currently, cassava is produced in more than 100 countries and fulfils the daily caloric demands of millions of people living in tropical America, Africa, and Asia. Its importance as a food security crop is high in Western, Central and Eastern Africa due to its ability to produce reasonable yields (~10 t/ha) in poor soils and with minimal inputs. Traditionally a famine reserve and a subsistence crop, the status of cassava is now evolving fast as a cash crop and as raw material in the production of starch (and starch based products), energy (bio-ethanol) and livestock feed in the major producing countries. Cassava leaves, which are rich in protein and beta-carotenoids, are also used as a vegetable and forage (fresh or dehydrated meal) in various parts of the world. 


In recent years, some of the problems in the production of cassava have been increasing infection with cassava mosaic disease (CMD), cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) and cassava bacterial blight (CBB). Inherent post-harvest physiological disorder (PPD) and cyanogenic glycosides (CG) are some of the most prominent challenges for scientists, producers and consumers in the post-production systems. Collaborative research in participatory plant breeding is ongoing at leading international research institutes... to improve crop resistance to virus diseases, reduce PPD and CG, and improve the overall nutritional characteristics. Further research should also focus on post-production systems by developing enhanced storage and transportation techniques, mechanisation (peeling, size reduction, drying and dewatering) and improved packaging. Moreover, a robust national policy, market development, and dissemination and extension program are required to realise the full potential of innovations and technologies in cassava production and processing. 


https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-017-0717-8


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Opportunities and hurdles of edible insects for food and feed - Nutr Bull (2017) 

Opportunities and hurdles of edible insects for food and feed - Nutr Bull (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Entomophagy, the consumption of insects, is promoted as an alternative sustainable source of protein for humans and animals. Seminal literature highlights predominantly the benefits, but with limited empirical support and evaluation. We highlight the historical significance of entomophagy by humans and key opportunities and hurdles identified by research to date, paying particular attention to research gaps. 


It is known that insects present a nutritional opportunity, being generally high in protein and key micronutrients, but it is unclear how their nutritional quality is influenced by what they are fed. Research indicates that, in ideal conditions, insects have a smaller environmental impact than more traditional Western forms of animal protein; less known is how to scale up insect production while maintaining these environmental benefits. 


Studies overall show that insects could make valuable economic and nutritional contributions to the food or feed systems, but there are no clear regulations in place to bring insects into such supply systems. Future research needs to examine how the nutritional value of insects can be managed systematically, establish clear processing and storage methodology, define rearing practices and implement regulations with regard to food and feed safety. 


Each of these aspects should be considered within the specifics of concrete supply and value chains, depending on whether insects are intended for food or for feed, to ensure insects are a sound economic, nutritional and sustainable protein alternative – not just a more expensive version of poultry for food, or soya for feed. 


http://doi.org/10.1111/nbu.12291


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WHO To Farmers: Stop Giving Your Animals So Many Antibiotics - NPR (2017) 

WHO To Farmers: Stop Giving Your Animals So Many Antibiotics - NPR (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The World Health Organization, worried about an increasing epidemic of drug-resistant infections, has thrown its considerable weight behind the campaign to cut the use of antibiotics in pigs, chickens and cattle that are raised for their meat. The WHO is calling on governments to follow the example of Denmark and the Netherlands, which have banned the use of these drugs to make animals grow faster, or simply to protect healthy animals... 

The "over-use and misuse of antimicrobials" has occurred both in human medicine and on farms... But in sheer quantity, the amount of antibiotics used on farms far exceeds what's used to treat people... "It's very important that we reduce use in human medicine and in animal production"... 


The WHO has now issued... guidelines for how these drugs should be used on farms: ... antibiotics cannot be used to promote faster growth or merely to prevent disease in healthy animals. The WHO called on veterinarians to avoid the use of antibiotics that are most critical in human health. The agency also wants governments to ban the use in animals of any new antibiotics that scientists may discover... 

These guidelines are stricter than current policies in the US... it still allows veterinarians to prescribe these drugs for the purpose of disease prevention. The greatest impact of the new guidelines, however, may be felt in countries like China, home to more than half of the world's pigs, where antibiotics have been used even more heavily than in the US... 

Policies in China are changing, however. The Chinese government is starting to require that some antibiotics only be used in animals if prescribed by a veterinarian. In addition, some Western food companies are pushing their Chinese suppliers to reduce or even eliminate antibiotic use. McDonald's, for example, has promised to buy only chickens from suppliers that have stopped using drugs that are most important in human medicine... 

The effects of overusing antibiotics don't stop at national borders, because drug-resistant bacteria can spread around the globe, compromising the ability of drugs to fight infections. "Antimicrobials are a global public good, and we all should be working together to preserve them"... Public health advocates in the U.S. praised the WHO's new guidelines... 


https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/11/07/562535747/who-to-farmers-stop-giving-your-animals-so-many-antibiotics


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Social Protection, Food Security, and Asset Formation - World Dev (2017) 

Social Protection, Food Security, and Asset Formation - World Dev (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The last two decades have seen a rapid rise in social protection programs and studies that assess their impacts on a large number of domains. We construct a new database of studies of these programs that report impacts on food security outcomes and asset formation. 


Our meta-analysis finds that social protection programs improve both the quantity and quality of food consumed by beneficiaries. The magnitudes of these effect sizes are meaningful. The average social protection program increases the value of food consumed/expenditure by 13% and caloric acquisition by 8%. 


Food expenditure rises faster than caloric acquisition because households use transfers to improve the quality of their diet, most notably increasing their consumption of calories from animal source foods. Since the consumption of animal source foods in these populations is low, and because there are significant nutritional benefits to increasing the consumption of these, this is a positive outcome. 


Our meta-analysis also finds that social protection programs lead to increased asset holdings as measured by livestock, non-farm productive assets, farm productive assets, and savings. There is no impact on land holdings though the number of studies that assess these is small.


https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.08.014


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Food labels can be mysterious - U Delaware (2017) 

Food labels can be mysterious - U Delaware (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

When customers walk down aisles of grocery stores, they are inundated with labels such as organic, fair-trade and cage free, just to name a few. Labels such as these may be eye-catching but are often free of any scientific basis and stigmatize many healthy foods... The paper... examined... food labeling to see how labels identifying the process in which food was produced positively and negatively influenced consumer behavior. 


By reviewing... studies on consumer response to process labels, the researchers found that while these labels satisfy consumer demand for quality assurances and can create value for both consumers and producers, misinterpretation is common and can stigmatize food produced by conventional processes even when there is no scientific evidence those foods cause harm. For the poor, in particular, there is danger in misunderstanding which food items are safe... “That has me worried about the poor and those who are food insecure”... Because now you’re trying to make everything a high-end food choice and frankly, we just want to have healthy food choices, we don’t need to have extra labels that scare away people.”

Process labels, by definition, focus on the production of a food, but largely ignore important outcomes of the process such as taste or healthiness... Policy changes could help consumers better understand their choices... Governments should not impose bans on process labels but rather encourage labels that help document how the processes affect important quality traits, such as calorie count. “Relying on process labels alone, on the other hand, is a laissez faire approach that inevitably surrenders the educational component of labeling to mass media, the colorful array of opinion providers, and even food retailers, who may not always be honest brokers of information”...  

With regards to the positive impact process labels have on consumers... consumers are able to more freely align their purchasing decisions with their values and preferences... “The good part is that process labels can help bridge the trust between the producer and the consumer because it gives the consumer more insight into the market... New products can be introduced this way, niche markets can be created, and consumers, in many cases, are willing to pay more for these products. It’s good for industry, consumers are getting what they want, and new players get to find ways of getting a higher price.”

The bad part is that consumers are already in the midst of a marketplace filled with information that can be overwhelming because of the sheer amount of product choices and information available. In addition, when most consumers go to buy food, they are often crunched for time. “Human choice tends to be worse when you put time constraints on it... and now you’re adding this new label and there’s lots of misinterpretation of what it means. The natural label is a classic one which means very little, yet consumers assume it means more than it does... This label is not helping them align their values to their food, and they’re paying a price premium but not getting what they wanted to buy”...  

Another problem are “halo effects,” overly optimistic misinterpretation of what a label means. “If you show consumers a chocolate bar that is labeled as ‘fair trade’, some will tell you that it has lower calories... But the label is not about calories. Consumers do this frequently with the ‘organic’ label as they think it is healthy for the consumer. Organic practices may be healthier for the farm workers or the environment, but for the actual consumer, there’s very little evidence behind that. You’re getting lots of mixed, wrong messages out there”...   

The ugly side of food processing labels comes into play when labels sound like they have a positive impact but really have a negative one... “Low food miles” might sound nice but could actually be causing more harm than good. “Sometimes, where food is grown doesn’t mean that it’s actually the best for climate change”... Hot house tomatoes grown in Canada... might have low food miles for Canadian consumers but it’s probably far better environmentally – because of all the energy expended... in an energy intensive hot house in Canada – to grow the tomatoes in Florida and then ship them to Canada. “If you just count miles and not true energy use, you can get people paying more money for something that’s actually going the opposite of what they wanted, which is to get a lower carbon footprint”... 

He added that the ugly side of food labeling is that a lot of fear is being introduced into the marketplace that isn’t based on science. “When you start labeling everything as ‘free of this’ such as ‘gluten free water,’ you can end up listing stuff that could never have been present in the food in the first place... These ‘free of’ labels can cause unnecessary fear and cast the conventionally produced food in a harsh, negative light.” Since the vast majority of the food market is still conventionally produced and is the lower cost product, there is a danger in taking that safe food and calling it unsafe... 


There is evidence that food companies are getting worried about investing in science and technology because they don’t know how the consumer is going to respond or how marketers are going to attack their food product because it’s new and different and, therefore, can be labeled as bad or dangerous. “We’ve got a lot of mouths to feed in our country and around the world... We are currently able to feed so many because of advances in agricultural science and technology. If we’re afraid of that now, we have a long-term impact on the poor that could be quite negative in our country and around the world. That’s when I start thinking these process labels could really be ugly”...  


http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2017/october/food-labels-positives-negatives/


Underlying article: http://doi.org/10.1093/aepp/ppx028


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The FBI’s Hunt for Two Missing Piglets Reveals the Federal Cover-Up of Barbaric Factory Farms - Intercept (2017) 

FBI agents are devoting substantial resources to a multistate hunt for two baby piglets... The two piglets were removed over the summer from the Circle Four Farm in Utah by animal rights activists who had entered the Smithfield Foods-owned factory farm to film the brutal, torturous conditions in which the pigs are bred in order to be slaughtered.

While filming the conditions at the Smithfield facility, activists saw the two ailing baby piglets laying on the ground, visibly ill and near death, surrounded by the rotting corpses of dead piglets. “One was swollen and barely able to stand; the other had been trampled and was covered in blood”...  

Rather than leave the two piglets at Circle Four Farm to wait for an imminent and painful death, the DxE activists decided to rescue them. They carried them out of the pens where they had been suffering and took them to an animal sanctuary to be treated and nursed back to health... 


This single Smithfield Foods farm breeds and then slaughters more than 1 million pigs each year. One of the odd aspects of animal mistreatment in the U.S. is that species regarded as more intelligent and emotionally complex – dogs, dolphins, cats, primates – generally receive more public concern and more legal protection. Yet pigs – among the planet’s most intelligent, social, and emotionally complicated species, capable of great joy, play, love, connection, suffering and pain, at least on a par with dogs – receive almost no protections, and are subject to savage systematic abuse by U.S. factory farms. 


At Smithfield, like most industrial pig farms, the abuse and torture primarily comes not from rogue employees violating company procedures. Instead, the cruelty is inherent in the procedures themselves... 


Under normal circumstances, a large industrial farming company such as Smithfield Foods would never notice that two sick piglets of the millions it breeds and then slaughters were missing. Nor would they care: A sick and dying piglet has no commercial value to them. Yet the rescue of these two particular piglets has literally become a federal case... a matter of great importance to the Department of Justice. On the last day of August, a six-car armada of FBI agents in bulletproof vests, armed with search warrants, descended upon two small shelters for abandoned farm animals...  These sanctuaries have no connection to DxE or any other rescue groups. They simply serve as a shelter for sick, abandoned, or otherwise injured animals. Run by a small staff and a team of animal-loving volunteers, they are open to the public to teach about farm animals... 


Subsequent events confirmed that this show of FBI force was designed to intimidate the sanctuaries, which played no role in the rescue... What has vested these two piglets with such importance to the FBI is that their rescue is now part of what has become an increasingly visible public campaign by DxE and other activists to highlight the barbaric suffering and abuse that animals endure on farms like Circle Four. Obviously, the FBI and Smithfield – the nation’s largest industrial farm corporation – don’t really care about the missing piglets they are searching for. What they care about is the efficacy of a political campaign intent on showing the public how animals are abused at factory farms, and they are determined to intimidate those responsible. Deterring such campaigns and intimidating the activists behind them is, manifestly, the only goal here... 


Plainly, the “crime” of these activists that has galvanized the FBI is not the “theft” of two dying piglets; it is political activism and investigative journalism, which exposes the cruelty and abuse at the heart of this powerful industry... 


https://theintercept.com/2017/10/05/factory-farms-fbi-missing-piglets-animal-rights-glenn-greenwald/


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Grass-fed beef is bad for the planet and causes climate change - New Scientist (2017) 

Grass-fed beef is bad for the planet and causes climate change - New Scientist (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Prince Charles is wrong to support grass-fed beef. The idea that beef from cows raised on bucolic pastures is good for the environment, and that we can therefore eat as much meat as we want, doesn’t add up. New calculations suggest cattle pastures contribute to climate change. “Sadly, though it would be nice if the pro-grazers were right, they aren’t... The truth is, we cannot eat as much meat as we like and save the planet.”

Many meat eaters have long felt guilty that the beef steaks they love are bringing environmental disaster. A key problem is that microorganisms in the guts of cattle emit millions of tonnes of methane every year... Since methane is a greenhouse gas, this exacerbates global warming. Meanwhile, feeding the beasts destroys forests by taking land for pasture or to grow feed – and this deforestation also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

But a counter-view has gained currency... it argues that grazing cattle on pastures is actually good for the climate. The idea is that plants on pastures capture carbon from the air, especially when fertilised by manure. Pastures should also reduce our need for food crops grown on land that releases carbon when ploughed.

Confused by conflicting claims, Garnett and her colleagues calculated the flow of greenhouse gases into and out of pastures. She found that “in some circumstances, you can get carbon capture, but not always and the effect is small. You cannot extrapolate from a nicely run Dorset farm to a global food strategy.”

At best, carbon capture only offsets 20 to 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from grazing, mostly the methane from cattle. “And the carbon capture stops after a few decades”... when the carbon-enriched soils reach equilibrium with the air. “Meanwhile, the cattle continue to belch methane”... 

The analysis is more comprehensive than past studies... “It asks, if we are to eat meat, is there a better way to grow it? The answer is: not really”... conclusion is supported by a study... which found that methane emissions from cattle are 11 per cent larger than older methods would suggest, and thus a bigger contributor to global warming... 


“We need to reduce emissions from livestock... That needs to come from dietary change.”


https://www.newscientist.com/article/2149220-grass-fed-beef-is-bad-for-the-planet-and-causes-climate-change/


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Imagine a world free from hunger and malnutrition - Lancet (2017) 

Imagine a world free from hunger and malnutrition - Lancet (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published its annual comprehensive report, "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World: Building Resilience for Peace and Food Security." Since its first publication in 1947, this... has been called "The State of Food and Agriculture", but this year's title has been expanded to include the word nutrition. Also for the first time, this year's report has a wider authorship group including UN Partners... IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO.

To achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, “End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”, coherent multi-sectoral policy actions must meet diverse, yet specific, targets, such as ending hunger, addressing all forms of malnutrition, including overweight and obesity, wasting and stunting, and addressing the nutritional needs of vulnerable groups such as children, older people, and pregnant and lactating women. 


This report observes that we have entered a new era for monitoring progress, with peace taking centre stage, as conflict and natural disasters cause shifting patterns of migration. However, underlying poor global governance and a continuing lack of political will to fix a broken system remain obstacles to a world free from hunger and malnutrition in all its forms... 

In the past year there has been an unexpected and alarming increase in the number of food-deprived people – a trend that had previously been declining since 2012. The FAO definition of undernourishment is based on the availability of food in a community... 2016 data found one in nine people hungry, with an absolute global number of 815 million, up from 2015's 777 million, and returning to a level last seen in 2012... 


Poor governance has now been exacerbated by the effects of natural disasters and conflict, leading to a surge in hunger with famine outbreaks in several countries, including Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen.

Using new indicators that measure severity of deprivation and access to food, the report finds that prevalence of hunger is greatest in Africa, with the highest absolute number of people facing hunger in Asia (520 million). Prevalence of stunting has fallen to 23% in the past decade; globally there are 155 million children younger than 5 years with stunting, and 52 million affected by wasting, with 28 million of those children living in southern Asia... There are a further 41 million children under 5 years of age who are overweight... 

Malnutrition will not end without politically peaceful solutions that bring an end to avoidable conflict and violence, as per SDG 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development”. Displacement caused by climate change disasters and vast waves of migration are compounding food insecurity. This report calls urgently for new ways of “conflict-sensitive” working, and finding more effective means of supporting and implementing appropriate government and humanitarian programmes and policies... 


Political will remains the underlying problem – food systems need stronger political leadership, with a vision that extends beyond 2030, bringing the rights of future generations and our diminishing planetary resources into better focus... 

As long as the global food system continues to deliver diets that are not healthy or sustainable, we will continue to see both undernutrition and overnutrition, resulting from an unsustainable food system that wreaks devastating effects on the environment. While global conflicts pose further obstacles to overcome by 2030 and beyond, the shocking figures from last week's report must spur words into action, and shift the imagining of a world without hunger and malnutrition towards a reality.


http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32549-7/fulltext


Underlying report: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1037253/icode/


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Massive projected increase in use of antimicrobials in animals could lead to widespread antimicrobial resistance in humans - U Cambridge (2017) 

Massive projected increase in use of antimicrobials in animals could lead to widespread antimicrobial resistance in humans - U Cambridge (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The amount of antimicrobials given to animals destined for human consumption is expected to rise by a staggering 52% and reach 200,000 tonnes by 2030 unless policies are implemented to limit their use... 


Researchers... conducted the first global assessment of different intervention policies that could help limit the projected increase of antimicrobial use in food production. Their results... represent an alarming revision from already pessimistic estimates made in 2010, pushed up mostly by recent reports of high antimicrobial use in animals in China.

In modern animal farming, large quantities of antimicrobials are used for disease prevention and for growth promotion. “Worldwide, animals receive almost triple the amount of antibiotics that people do, although much of this use is not medically necessary, and many new strains of antibiotic-resistant infections are now common in people after originating in our livestock... 


As global demand for meat grows and agriculture continues to transition from extensive farming and smallholdings to more intensive practices, the use of antimicrobials in food production will increasingly threaten the efficacy of these life-saving drugs.”

Global policies based on a user fee and stricter regulation could help mitigate those ominous projections. “Under a user fee policy, the billions of dollars raised in revenues could be invested in the development of new antimicrobial compounds, or put towards improving farm hygiene around the world to reduce the need for antibiotics, in particular in low- and middle-income countries”... 


Compared to a business as usual scenario, a global regulation putting a cap of 50 mg of antimicrobials per kilogram of animal per year in OECD countries could reduce global consumption by 60% without affecting livestock-related economic development in low-income countries.

However, such a policy may be challenging to enforce in resource-limited settings. An alternative solution could be to impose a user fee of 50% of the current price on veterinary antimicrobials: this could reduce global consumption by 31% and generate yearly revenues of between US$ 1.7 and 4.6 billion.

An important limiting factor in performing this global assessment was accessing sufficient data on veterinary antimicrobial sales volumes and prices. The present study is based on publicly available data, limited to 37 countries. Representatives from the animal health industry were approach for this study but all declined to share information on antimicrobial sales or prices... 


http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/massive-projected-increase-in-use-of-antimicrobials-in-animals-could-lead-to-widespread


Underlying study: http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aao1495

 

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Drought: a cause of riots - UNIGE (2017) 

Drought: a cause of riots - UNIGE (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The scientific community has been working on the possibility of a relationship between periods of drought and rioting... formally verified this hypothesis by studying almost 1,800 riots that occurred over a 20-year period in sub-Saharan Africa. The researchers observed a systematic link between the sudden depletion of water resources and the outbreak of unrest. They also succeeded in quantifying the impact of geographic and social factors... The findings... underline the importance of the role of political institutions in the event of a drought... 

Several case studies have reported that drought provokes tensions in the affected population. For example, when a period of drought hits a particular region, it has been shown that there is a drop in agricultural production and income; food becomes scarcer and prices rise; and towns no longer receive adequate supplies – all of which leads to outbreaks of rioting. But is there a systematic link between drought and riots? 


Most of the data used in the research has been too aggregated until now to provide an accurate answer: researchers based their analyses on figures indicating the average amount of rainfall for each country over a year and the manifestation of unrest in the same year per country. However, the data was too unrepresentative of the quantity of water actually required by the populations. Moreover, it was unsuitable for studying riots, which are typically of a local nature, and usually shorter and more explosive than civil conflicts... 


A team of economists... decided to focus their studies on the case of sub-Saharan Africa. This region, characterised by an economic structure that heavily depends on the presence of water, is ideal for demonstrating the systematic existence of the link. Forty-three countries with a minimum of one million inhabitants were analysed.

The researchers used a drought indicator devised by hydrologists, the Standardised Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI)... The SPEI can be used on a very detailed scale: for each 50km by 50km area, it indicates the month-by-month availability of water over a period of approximately 100 years. The economists subsequently cross-referenced the SPEI information with data from the Social Conflict Analysis Database (SCAD), which lists 1,800 incidents of rioting between 1990 and 2011, precisely geolocated in sub-Saharan Africa... 


“The problem was to look beyond the simple drought-conflict correlation and examine the other factors potentially linked to these two aspects that could misrepresent the relationship between drought and conflict... The researchers had to be careful not to consider drought as the main cause of a riot. “In order of importance, it is political, economic and social causes that create tension. Droughts are a factor that add fuel to flames that are already burning”.

The researchers, who controlled for a very wide range of ancillary variables, found that a period of drought increases the overall possibility of rioting by 10%... “But... if you cross-reference other geographical and social factors, this percentage rises dramatically.” In fact, three key elements play a leading role in the likelihood of drought-related riots. 


The first is population density: the more densely populated a region is, the greater the need for water. If there is shortage... in the most dense areas, the probability of a riot breaking out jumps by 50%. Similarly, if a region where there are no lakes or rivers is struck by drought, the risk of a conflict breaking out is multiplied by two... Finally, if several different ethnic groups share the same water resource within the same region, traditional institutional arrangements may temporarily collapse in the event of a shortage, swelling the risk of conflict by a factor of two.

The study shows the systematic and immediate link between droughts and rioting. The economists found that drought-related conflicts erupt in the same month as the onset of a water shortage, demonstrating that populations react quickly to a problem that affects agriculture, the economy and health... “We now have to use this data to examine in detail what mechanisms could be put in place by political institutions to avoid riots, such as setting up redistribution systems in areas affected by drought.”


https://www.unige.ch/communication/communiques/en/2017/la-secheresse-source-demeutes/


Underlying study: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeem.2017.06.002


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How the humble potato fuelled the rise of liberal capitalism - Conversation (2017) 

There was a growing consensus across Europe that much of the population was crippling itself with poorly chosen eating habits. For instance, the renowned Scottish physician William Buchan argued this in his 1797 book... 


Buchan believed that most “common people” ate too much meat and white bread, and drank too much beer. They did not eat enough vegetables. 


The inevitable result, he stated, was ill health, with diseases... wreaking havoc in the bodies of working men, women and children. This, in turn, undermined British trade and weakened the nation... 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:
1797? Sounds pretty contemporary... 
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Are consumers wilfully ignorant about animal welfare? - Animal Welfare (2017) 

Wilful ignorance is a documented human behaviour whereby people deliberately avoid information. Although much work has documented consumer attitudes toward farm animal welfare, few studies have questioned whether people even want to know how farm animals are raised. 


Using an internet survey of 1,000 subjects from the US state of Oklahoma, it is shown that around one-third admit to being wilfully ignorant regarding pork production. One-third also chose to look at a blank screen rather than a picture of how pregnant hogs are housed. Avoidance of guilt is shown to be a motivator for this behaviour. 


http://doi.org/10.7120/09627286.26.4.399


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
To be empowered and able to make informed decisions, consumers cannot be ignorant (wilfully or not). Perhaps photos at the points of sale or on the packaging would help -- as it's already done for cigarettes in many countries. (Only that smoking is bad for the smokers themselves, whereas eating meat is bad for the animals that are eaten...) 
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Food Security, Malnutrition and the Incidence of poverty in India - IGC (2017) 

Food Security, Malnutrition and the Incidence of poverty in India - IGC (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The National Food Security Act (NFSA) in India was passed in 2013 to remove hunger and reduce malnutrition. The Act provides 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population with a minimum entitlement of 5 kilograms of grain per person per month. 


This paper explores the likely effects of the Act on food security and malnutrition. We use data from nationally representative household surveys to examine whether the presence of malnourished children is correlated with household calorie intakes. We find rates of stunting and wasting are only weakly related to calorie consumption. Household and village amenities and parental education are more important predictors of these nutritional indicators. 


We also find that the NFSA grain entitlements are below the current consumption levels of most households and are therefore unlikely to alter consumption by much. 


A fully implemented NFSA can still benefit the poor through the income transfers implicit in food subsidies. These transfers are likely to be more progressive than under the current Public Distribution System, because the NFSA stipulates individual rather than household entitlements and poor households are larger than average. 


https://www.theigc.org/project/food-security-malnutrition-and-the-incidence-of-poverty-in-india/


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
Indeed, nutrition is more than grains... But if the NFSA really is successful in targeting food insecure households, it could be a promising channel to distribute fortified or biofortified cereals. (Even if these cereals will not address all nutrition problems, either, they would provide more than just calories, as they are enriched with micronutrients that are most lacking in the diets of their target populations.) 
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Food security measurement in a global context: The food insecurity experience scale - Measurement

Food security measurement in a global context: The food insecurity experience scale - Measurement | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The ability of households and individuals to access food (one of the key aspects of 'food security') is an important welfare dimension that poses important challenges for objective measurement. This paper describes the Rasch model-based procedures developed to define the eight-item Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) as a contribution towards the establishment of an indicator for global monitoring of food insecurity. 


Experiential food insecurity survey data, collected by FAO from nationally representative samples of the adult population, once every year in 2014, 2015 and 2016 from 153 countries or territories, are used to develop methods to estimate cross-country comparable prevalence rates of moderate and severe food insecurity... 


Validation of the estimates of prevalence of food insecurity at national level was obtained by comparing the FIES-based indicator with other established indicators of social (under) development. National prevalence rates of moderate-or-severe food insecurity obtained by FAO correlate well with the prevalence of undernourishment and with several widely used indicators of national income, health, and well-being... 


Pending broader adoption of the FIES or compatible experience-based food security scales worldwide, countries could choose to use the 2014-16 results obtained using the data collected by FAO as the baseline to monitor progress towards Target 2.1 of the recently established 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 


https://doi.org/10.1016/j.measurement.2017.10.065


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The power of the vegetable patch: How home-grown food helps large rural households achieve economies of scale & escape poverty - Food Pol (2017) 

The power of the vegetable patch: How home-grown food helps large rural households achieve economies of scale & escape poverty - Food Pol (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

This paper explores how the household’s capacity to grow food impacts their ability to achieve economies of scale in food consumption and how this impacts the geographic distribution of poverty across rural and urban areas. An accurate understanding of consumption economies of scale is vital for comparing poverty levels across households of varying size... 


Such economies of scale exist and... large households tend to consume relatively more home-grown food than smaller households. The magnitude of these scale economies are... larger than those in market purchased food, but smaller than those... in housing expenditure. Consuming more home-grown food is also found to be positively correlated with per-capita calories consumed. 


Taking these effects into account in poverty estimates leads to a 15 per cent decline in the number of household who fall below the poverty line in rural regions.


https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2017.09.005


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
I'm not entirely sure if in-kind consumption can be counted (fully) against the poverty line as it may not reflect the consumers' preferences to the same extent that a freely chosen food basket would. 
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Swapping Where Crops are Grown Could Feed an Extra 825 Million People - Columbia U (2017) 

Swapping Where Crops are Grown Could Feed an Extra 825 Million People - Columbia U (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Redrawing the global map of crop distribution on existing farmland could help meet growing demand for food and biofuels in coming decades, while significantly reducing water stress in agricultural areas... “there are a lot of places where there are inefficiencies in water use and nutrient production”... Those inefficiencies could be fixed... by swapping in crops that have greater nutritional quality and lower environmental impact. 


Agricultural demand is forecasted to grow substantially over the next few decades due to population growth, richer diets, and biofuel use. Meanwhile, water stress is expected to worsen with climate change and as global aquifers are rapidly depleted. In an attempt to address these twin challenges, the authors looked at crop water-use models and yield maps for 14 major food crops...   

The researchers chose to focus on 14 crops that make up 72 percent of all crops harvested around the world: groundnut, maize, millet, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, roots, sorghum, soybean, sugar beet, sugarcane, sunflowers, tubers and wheat... The new crop maps... would produce 10 percent more calories and 19 percent more protein – enough to feed an additional 825 million people – while reducing consumption of rainwater by 14 percent and irrigation water by 12 percent.

Globally, such improvements would be achieved by dramatically increasing production of groundnuts, roots, soybeans, sorghum and tubers and decreasing millets, rice, sugar and wheat, which consume more water but have lower calorie and protein yields per hectare. But the specific changes vary widely by country and water use type due to differences in local climate, soil characteristics and crop yields. For instance, rain-fed sorghum, soybeans, tubers and wheat could replace millets, sugar beet and sunflower in western Russia. Irrigated maize, millet, roots and tubers supplanted rice, sorghum and wheat in northern India.

The study identified crop redistributions that would create substantial water savings – at least 20 percent of water demand for agricultural production – for 42 countries, many of which are already under significant water stress... For another 63 countries, most of which rely heavily on food imports to feed themselves, the redistributions would generate a greater than 20 percent rise in either calorie or protein production, increasing food self-sufficiency...  

In recent years, some researchers have advocated meeting rising global crop demand via technology or increasing the use of water and fertilizer. But big technology investments would be out of reach for small rural farmers, and many of the water efficiency methods... – such as increasing irrigation efficiency and planting higher-yielding crops, decreasing animal protein in diets, and minimizing food waste – face significant barriers to implementation...  

The new paper’s crop distribution model would not require massive technology investments. Nor would it result in a loss of crop diversity or soil nutrients, which might otherwise make agriculture more vulnerable to drought, pests and other shocks. Still... the findings are really just a starting point, not a final solution. The research did not take into account potential cultural or political barriers, market supply and demand, dietary preferences or consumption patterns, which would need to be examined in future research. The findings “can be used as one of several tools in making food systems more sustainable”... 

“If we think about the economic, social, and environmental aspects of food security in a particular country and work closely with local decision-makers, we can create solutions tailored to the needs and goals of that country’s people”... 


http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2017/11/06/swapping-where-crops-are-grown-could-feed-an-extra-825-million-people/


Underlying study: http://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-017-0004-5


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
"decreasing... sugar and wheat, which consume more water but have lower calorie and protein yields... did not take into account potential cultural or political barriers, market supply and demand, dietary preferences or consumption patterns" >> When people get richer they tend to consume more rice, wheat and sugar, not less... And those who are already rich are hooked on their junk food (that's often based on sugar and wheat), so changing that might be desirable, but it's certainly not easy. 
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The environmental sustainability of insects as food and feed. A review - Agronomy Sust Dev (2017) 

The environmental sustainability of insects as food and feed. A review - Agronomy Sust Dev (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

With a growing world population, increasingly demanding consumers, and a limited amount of agricultural land, there is an urgent need to find alternatives to conventional meat products. Livestock production is, moreover, a leading cause of anthropogenic-induced climate change. To mediate this, more sustainable diets are needed, with reduced meat consumption or the use of alternative protein sources. 


Insects are promoted as human food and animal feed worldwide. In tropical countries, edible insects are harvested from nature, but overexploitation, habitat changes, and environmental contamination threaten this food resource. Therefore, sustainable harvesting practices need to be developed and implemented. We provide examples of (1) aquatic insects whose populations are threatened by pollution, (2) caterpillar species in Africa that are disappearing due to overexploitation and habitat change, (3) edible insects species that are considered pests in agro-ecosystems, and (4) edible insect species that can be conserved and enhanced in forest management systems. 


Insect farming can be conducted either on small-scale farms or in large-scale industrialized rearing facilities. We review the environmental sustainability of insect farming compared to livestock production. The major environmental advantages... are... (1) less land and water is required; (2) greenhouse gas emissions are lower; (3) insects have high feed conversion efficiencies; (4) insects can transform low-value organic by-products into high-quality food or feed; and (5) certain insect species can be used as animal feed... they can replace fish meal... 


However, edible insect species intended for production should be screened for risks to humans, animals, plants, and biodiversity.


http://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-017-0452-8


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Global Food Policy Report: Synopsis - IFPRI (2017) 

Global Food Policy Report: Synopsis - IFPRI (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Important signs of progress in food security and nutrition and a commitment to sustainable development marked 2016. Yet challenges arising from dramatically changing political, economic, and demographic landscapes are sure to test the international momentum behind the new sustainable development agenda. 


As rapid urbanization continues around the world, poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition are increasingly becoming urban problems. This rapid shift is changing diets and reshaping food chains – from small farms to modern supermarkets. 


Going forward, policies and investments to end hunger and malnutrition must take account of the needs of poor urban populations and develop strong links between rural food producers and urban markets to support both rural and urban populations. 


https://www.ifpri.org/publication/2017-global-food-policy-report-synopsis


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Measuring nutritional quality of agricultural production systems: Application to fish production - Bogard &al (2017) - Global Food Sec

Measuring nutritional quality of agricultural production systems: Application to fish production - Bogard &al (2017) - Global Food Sec | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Reorienting food systems towards improving nutrition outcomes is vital if the global goal of ending all forms of malnutrition is to be achieved. Crucial to transitioning to nutrition-sensitive agriculture is valuing and measuring nutritional quality of the outputs of agricultural production. 


We review existing indicators which capture an element of nutritional quality applicable to different stages of the food and nutrition system. Applying relevant indicators from the agricultural production stage to selected aquaculture systems, we compare and contrast their strengths and limitations. 


‘Nutritional yields’, ‘potential nutrient adequacy’ and ‘Rao's quadratic entropy’ show particular promise in capturing the ability of a production system to nourish the most people and could be useful tools for prioritising investments and decision-making in the public, non-government and private sectors driving agriculture... 


Food systems can be conceptualised as consisting of all of the inputs and activities required to produce and distribute food for human consumption. Various conceptual models of food systems include several stages such as agricultural production, distribution, and consumption; each of which involves inputs, which undergo transformation and result in various outputs which continue their flow throughout the system. 


Several authors propose a broader concept of food systems which incorporates nutrition and health outcomes, emphasising the interdependence of agricultural production, food consumption and nutritional status. An advantage of this conceptual approach is that an understanding of the drivers of, inputs to, transformations within, interactions between, and outputs at each stage of the system allows more effective guidance of interventions at various stages in the system to achieve desired nutrition and health outcomes... 


This study presents a comparative analysis of the merits and limitations of existing indicators that capture some elements of nutritional quality of the outputs of agricultural production sub-systems... There are several limitations to this analysis. In keeping the focus on the agricultural production stage of food systems, the review of indicators focused on key sources in the food and nutrition security literature, thereby, potentially excluding indicators of nutritional quality from other sources... 


https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211912417300366


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
The authors acknowledge that their analysis is limited because they focus on the agricultural side of things and review (only) the food and nutrition security literature -- thereby excluding potentially useful indicators from other sources. 

Given that in Figure 1 they even show "health outcomes" following the "nutrition stage", they might have wanted to include indicators for this last stage instead of stopping at the nutrition stage. 

One example for such an indicator could be DALYs, which I discussed in the same journal some time ago, as summarised here: http://www.scoop.it/t/publications-of-a-j-stein/p/4030363107/

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Win-win strategies for climate and food security - IIASA (2017) 

Win-win strategies for climate and food security - IIASA (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture and forestry sectors could lead to increased food prices – but new research identifies strategies that could help mitigate climate change while avoiding steep hikes in food prices. 


Climate policies that target agriculture and forests could lead to increased food prices, but reducing deforestation and increasing soil carbon sequestration in agriculture could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while avoiding risk to food security... 

As countries look to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, many see potential in their forests and farms. The land-use sector, which includes agriculture and forestry, contributes approximately 25% of the human-caused greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change. At the same time, vegetation, including natural as well as agricultural lands, take up CO2 from the atmosphere and can store it in biomass and the soil.

“The land-use sector is key for successful climate change mitigation... But providing an increasing amount of biomass for energy production to substitute fossil fuels while at the same time reducing emissions from the land use sector, for example through a carbon tax, could also have the effect of raising food prices and reducing food availability”...  

The study showed that a stringent mitigation target for the agriculture and forestry sectors could lead to increased food prices and reduced food production. Though globally coordinated mitigation policies outperform regional or national policies both with respect to emission abatement and food security, adverse impacts on food security remain. 


The study presents two strategies that could bring benefits for climate while simultaneously maintaining food security: reducing deforestation and increasing soil carbon sequestration... The study found that in countries with a lot of land and a high proportion of emissions from land-use change, such as Brazil or Congo Basin countries, there is a large potential for forest restoration and preventing deforestation. However, in more densely populated countries with emission intensive agriculture such as China and India, strict efforts to reduce agricultural emissions could lead to substantial impacts on food security, while not providing big climate benefits due to emission leakage... emissions that are saved due to a policy within one country would be replaced by additional emissions outside the country.

“In some countries, stopping deforestation could provide a big reduction in emissions with only a marginal effect on food availability”... In places like China and India, the focus should be on soil organic carbon sequestration and other win-win options that decrease the emission intensity of agriculture.”

Certain farming practices, such as crop rotation, cover cropping, and residue management, can preserve greater amounts of carbon stored in soils. It turns out that these practices also generally lead to greater crop yields. “You keep the soil healthy, you offset greenhouse gas emissions, and you preserve crop yields at the same time”... In fact, under a carbon price policy, soil carbon sequestration measures could even provide additional revenue for farmers as they get paid for the carbon sink they provide... 

http://www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/about/news/171002-soil-climate.html


Underlying article: http://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa8c83


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Global methane emissions from agriculture larger than reported, according to new estimates - ScienceDaily (2017) 

Global methane emissions from agriculture larger than reported, according to new estimates - ScienceDaily (2017)  | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Global methane emissions from agriculture are larger than estimated due to the previous use of out-of-date data on carbon emissions generated by livestock... 

Researchers... found that global livestock methane (CH4) emissions for 2011 are 11% higher than the estimates based on guidelines provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2006. This encompasses an 8.4% increase in CH4 from enteric fermentation (digestion) in dairy cows and other cattle and a 37% increase in manure management CH4 compared to IPCC-based estimates. Revised manure management CH4 emissions estimates for 2011 in the US from this study were 72% higher than IPPC-based estimates...

"In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions. 


Methane is an important moderator of the Earth's atmospheric temperature. It has about four times the atmospheric warming potential of carbon dioxide. Direct measurements of methane emissions are not available for all sources of methane. Thus, emissions are reported as estimates based on different methods and assumptions... 


The authors re-evaluated the data used to calculate IPCC 2006 CH4 emission factors resulting from enteric fermentation in dairy cows and other cattle, and manure management from dairy cows, other cattle and swine. They show that estimating livestock CH4 emissions with the revised emissions factors, created in this study, results in larger emission estimates compared to calculations made using IPCC 2006 emission factors for most regions, although emission estimates varied considerably by region...

"Among global regions, there was notable variability in trends in estimated emissions over recent decades. For example, we found that total livestock methane emissions have increased the most in rapidly developing regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa. In contrast, emissions increased less in the US and Canada, and decreased slightly in Western Europe. We found the largest increases in annual emissions to be over the northern tropics, followed by the southern tropics."

The estimates presented in this study are also 15% larger than global estimates provided by... EPA... 4% larger than EDGAR (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research) global estimates... Both the EPA and EDGAR use IPCC 2006 default information which may have contributed to their under estimations.


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170929093248.htm


Underlying study: http://doi.org/10.1186/s13021-017-0084-y


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Is it time to take vertical indoor farming seriously? - Pinstrup-Andersen (2017) - Global Food Sec

Is it time to take vertical indoor farming seriously? - Pinstrup-Andersen (2017) - Global Food Sec | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Is it time to take vertical indoor farming seriously? My answer is yes, and here are five reasons why. 


First, a very large number of people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies and the health problems they cause... the number that keeps coming up is 2 billion, or more than 25% of the world's population. Given the serious health consequences, it is fair to characterize this as a serious global public health problem... Rapid growth in low-income countries’ urban populations, together with widespread urban poverty and dietary changes towards calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods are resulting in a rapid increase in the number of urban households with micronutrient-deficient members. While fortification, including biofortification, may play an important role in both urban and rural populations... access to a healthy and diversified diet, which includes vegetables and other micronutrient-dense foods, is the key to sustainable elimination of this public health problem. Although access to affordable vegetables does not assure their consumption, it is a precondition. Unfortunately, large shares of poor and non-poor urban households in both high and low-income countries do not have regular, daily, year-round access to fresh vegetables at prices they can afford... 


Second, the production of vegetables in open fields is associated with large risks and uncertainties from biotic and abiotic stresses, such as pest attacks, droughts, floods and strong winds. Climate change and associated irregular weather patterns and extreme weather events add to these uncertainties. Use of pesticides may introduce real and/or perceived health risks. Aeroponic or aquaponics production of vegetables in indoor, controlled environments, whether in high-rises or containers, will require no pesticides, no soil, no land, except for the building's or container's footprint, and only 5% of the water used in the production of the same quantity of vegetables in an open field... The yields of vegetables are higher and the growing cycle are shorter when grown with the most appropriate technology, including the most recent lighting management, in a controlled environment... 


Third, the supply chain for vegetables produced in open fields or greenhouses is frequently long... Infrastructure investments, CO2 emissions and related energy expenditures in transportation may be large. Vertical indoor farming can be undertaken within or near urban or peri-urban areas because its footprint is very small... yields per unit of land are very high. The supply chain would be short, the energy costs, nutrient losses and CO2 emission during transportation would be low and time from harvesting to consumer purchase would be very short, assuring freshness...


Fourth, climate change and related extreme weather events are causing higher risks and uncertainty in agricultural production. Increasing temperature brings new pests and plant diseases for which solutions may not be available. Higher frequency of extreme weather events are resulting in large production fluctuations with frequent crop losses, large yield variations and volatile food prices. Production of vegetables in open fields is particularly volatile. As climate change proceeds, the benefits from enhanced control of the production environment will be even more obvious to assure a continued supply of a diversified portfolio of foods to meet nutritional needs... 


Fifth, continued population growth and increasing incomes translate to increasing food demand... the world population will require about 50% more food by 2050... An increasing share of the food demand will come from urban areas in low and middle-income countries and the debate about... urban agriculture... is taking on increasing importance. The on-going diet transition is shifting the demand... Will consumers shift to more nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables and animal source foods or will they move towards more calorie-dense processed foods with high content of sugar, sweeteners and fat but relatively poor in micronutrients? The answer will be influenced in part by physical access and relative prices. Enhanced access and lower prices for vegetables can be expected to lead to increasing consumption, a healthier diet and better nutrition. High vegetable prices and low prices for calorie-dense packaged foods leads to unhealthy diets, overweight, obesity and related chronic diseases. Vertical indoor vegetable production can help expand the supply and lower prices...  


While technological change has greatly changes the economic relationships in favor of vertical indoor farming or container farming, during the last 7 years, we may not be there yet. In particular, much more evidence is needed to estimate the economic feasibility of vertical indoor vegetable production in urban areas of low-income countries... So, I believe it is premature to issue a proclamation that vertical indoor production of vegetables is key... But I firmly believe it would be a mistake to continue to ignore opportunities associated with vertical indoor production of vegetables. Based on the limited evidence we have from existing production units, it appears that the tipping point for when it becomes economically viable, may have been reached... the behavior of venture capitalists is one indication. Taking its potential seriously means taking action to push it over the tipping point for the benefit of people's nutritional status and health. In my opinion, solid economic analyses of past experience and current practices are urgently needed... 


I am much more concerned about the large-scale outdoor production unit outcompeting smallholders. Efforts to promote increased production of fruits and vegetables on small farms in low-income countries have been very disappointing. The progress has been very slow, in part due to poorly functioning supply chains and large postharvest scale economies and partly because agricultural research continues to prioritize productivity increases in staple foods, while all but ignoring the opportunities for increased productivity and lower unit costs in vegetables... 


Vertical indoor production of vegetables may contribute to better nutrition... help reducing water usage in agriculture... [and] climate change risks. There is an urgent need for economic assessments of vertical indoor farming. Unsubstantiated rejection of vertical indoor farming is harmful to nutrition. 


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211912417300755


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Supermarket purchase contributes to nutrition-related non-communicable diseases in urban Kenya - Demmler &al (2017) - PLOS ONE

Supermarket purchase contributes to nutrition-related non-communicable diseases in urban Kenya - Demmler &al (2017) - PLOS ONE | Food Policy | Scoop.it

While undernutrition and related infectious diseases are still pervasive in many developing countries, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCD), typically associated with high body mass index (BMI), is rapidly rising. The fast spread of supermarkets and related shifts in diets were identified as possible factors contributing to overweight and obesity in developing countries... 


This study investigates the effects of purchasing food in supermarkets on people’s BMI, as well as on health indicators such as fasting blood glucose (FBG), blood pressure (BP), and the metabolic syndrome.

This study uses cross-section observational data from urban Kenya. Demographic, anthropometric, and bio-medical data were collected from 550 randomly selected adults. Purchasing food in supermarkets is defined as a binary variable that takes a value of one if any food was purchased in supermarkets... In a robustness check, the share of food purchased in supermarkets is defined as a continuous variable... 


Purchasing food in supermarkets contributes to higher BMI (+ 1.8 kg/m2) and an increased probability (+ 20 percentage points) of being overweight or obese. Purchasing food in supermarkets also contributes to higher levels of FBG (+ 0.3 mmol/L) and a higher likelihood (+ 16 percentage points) of suffering from pre-diabetes and the metabolic syndrome (+ 7 percentage points)... 

Supermarkets and their food sales strategies seem to have direct effects on people’s health. In addition to increasing overweight and obesity, supermarkets contribute to nutrition-related NCDs. Effects of supermarkets on nutrition and health can mainly be ascribed to changes in the composition of people’s food choices.


https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185148


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The association between food insecurity and academic achievement in Canadian school-aged children - Faught  &al (2017) - Public Health Nutr

Education is a crucial social determinant of health. Food insecurity can be detrimental to children’s academic achievement, potentially perpetuating a cycle of poverty and food insecurity. We aimed to assess the relationship between food insecurity and academic achievement... 


Parents completed the short-form Household Food Security Survey Module and questions about income and education level (socio-economic status). Children completed FFQ. Data were prospectively linked to children’s performance on standardized exams written one year later. Mixed-effect logistic regression was employed to assess the relationship between food insecurity and likelihood of meeting academic expectations adjusting for socio-economic status, diet quality and potential confounders... 

Low food security was reported by 9.8% of households; very low food security by 7.1% of households. Students from low-income households and reporting poor diet quality were less likely to do well in school. Children who lived in households reporting very low food security had 0.65 times the odds of meeting expectations for reading and 0.62 times the odds of meeting expectations for mathematics.
Very low household insecurity is associated with poor academic achievement... 


http://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980017001562


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