What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Increasing cropping frequency offers opportunity to boost food supply, University of Minnesota

Climate-Smart Pearl Millet Variety May Be a Game Changer for Nutrition, Feed the Future

WTO chief says no chance of global trade deal, USA Today

Iowa in the Amazon, The New York Times

Science’s role in growing diverse, nutritious food, SciDev.Net

What have been the farm-level economic impacts of the global cultivation of GM crops?, Collaboration for Environmental Evidence Library

‘Total inaction’ at UN climate talks, Africa groups charge, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Eating Aliens, Jackson Landers

Crowdsourcing app fights food loss in Africa, University of Twente

Hunger Grains: Are EU policies undermining progress on development?, From Poverty to Power, Duncan Green

How Africa’s natural resources can drive industrial revolution, CNN [Read more…]

Food waste harms climate, water, land and biodiversity – new FAO report

food wasteApproximately one third of food, equivalent to 1.3 Gigatonnes of edible food, is lost or wasted, according to a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, entitled Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources. Often discussed in terms of its contribution to global food insecurity, this new report highlights food waste’s detrimental impact on the environment. For example, the resources used to produce this uneaten food equate to 1.4 billion hectares of land (around 30% of all agricultural land in the world); 250km3 of blue water (equivalent to 3 times the volume of Lake Geneva); and 3.3 Gtonnes of CO2 equivalent (making food waste the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China).

While the costs of the loss of these natural resources is yet to be put in economic terms, the direct costs of food waste borne by the producers is some $750 billion each year, equivalent to the GDP of Switzerland.

The report also details key areas where large volumes of food are being wasted with severe environmental effects, most notably, cereals in Asia; meat in western countries and Latin America; fruit in Asia, Latin America and Europe; and vegetables in Asia and Europe.

While the aim of the report is merely to highlight the scale of the problem and identify priority areas for action, the FAO has also produced a Tool Kit for Reducing the Food Wastage Footprint, which provides guidelines for reducing food waste and gives practical examples of where this is happening. In particular it points to three areas of action:

·         Reducing food waste by improving losses on farms due to poor practices and by better balancing production with demand;

·         Re-using surplus edible food within the human food chain, i.e. in other markets or as food donations, and re-using non-edible food as livestock feed;

·         Recycling through by-product recycling, anaerobic digestion, compositing, and incineration with energy recovery to allow some energy and nutrients to be recovered from food waste, rather than it rotting in a landfill and producing methane. [Read more…]

14 ways to reduce your food waste

Reduce food wasteWorld Environment Day, the theme being food loss and food waste, got us thinking about practical ways we can reduce the amount of food we throw away. In developing countries the majority of food losses occur at the farm level, particularly during storage, where food is often ‘lost’ after it has been harvested. In the developed world, however, food is most often ‘wasted’ when it is thrown away by retailers and consumers.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated that some 32% of all food produced in the world in 2009 was lost or wasted. The World Resources Institute converted this figure from food weight to food calories and found that some 24% of food is lost or wasted, that’s 1 in 4 food calories that are never consumed. As the Institute points out it is not just a loss of food but a loss of money and a waste of land. $1600 is the value of food thrown away by the average American family each year while 198 million hectares of land (an area almost the size of Mexico) are used to grow this food that is never consumed.

Given that there are around a billion people who are chronically hungry despite there being enough food in the world means tackling food waste and food loss is urgent. But it is a challenge because it is about accessing crop storage technologies, achieving more resilient agricultural production and better market opportunities for poor farmers in developing countries while at the same time changing behaviour and consumption patterns in the developed world.

We’ve scoured the web to find some tips to help us reduce the amount of food waste we generate. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Global Action on Nutrition, ICRISAT

Can Women Deliver a New Development Agenda in 2015?, New Security Beat

Ending Malnutrition, Jose Graziano Da Silva, Huffington Post

Global hunger: Expert calls for fresh action on child malnutrition, BBC

International community must focus on reducing food loss on farms, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Malnutrition identified as root cause of 3.1 million deaths among children, The Guardian

Biotech crops vs. pests: Successes and failures from the first billion acres (Update), Phys.org

In Pictures: Fighting malnutrition, BBC

In defiance of the New Alliance, World Development Movement

Kenyan MPs to champion rural women’s influence on climate policy, Thomson Reuters Foundation

How do you feed 9 billion people?, Michigan State University

Smallholder Farmers Key to Lifting Over One Billion People Out of Poverty, UNEP

David Cameron talking tough on tax as G8 nears – but what can he deliver?, The Guardian

Land Rush – Why Poverty?, YouTube

Zambeef: A rare meat success in Africa, The Economist

Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security, Qaim and Kouser, PLOS ONE

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Food Security To Be At Centre Of Africa Development Agenda, World Food Programme

Vilsack Outlines Vision for Agricultural Solutions to Environmental Challenges, USDA

Nigeria, Brazil Partner On Food Production, Agricultural Technology Transfer, Ventures

Chart of the week: Africa’s growth / human development lag, Financial Times

Cutting Food Loss and Waste will Benefit People and the Environment, Says New Study on World Environment Day, UNEP

A Plea for Agricultural Innovation, Calestous Juma, Belfer Center

Bill Gates visits ICRISAT, ICRISAT

Population growth erodes sustainable energy gains – UN report, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Agricultural Productivity Will Rise to the Challenge, IEEE Spectrum

Chocolate Makers Fight for Farmers’ Loyalty, The Wall Street Journal

In Europe, Monsanto Backing Away From GMO Crops, The Huffington Post

Can market solutions unlock Africa’s agricultural potential?, Thomson Reuters Foundation

How We Can Eat Our Landscapes, Thinking Country

UN panel calls for end to extreme poverty by 2030 in roadmap for world’s top challenges, The Washington Post

Good news from the front lines of hunger, Ertharin Cousins

Commentary – Hay Festival 2013: Roger Thurow looks at the effects of famine, Global Food for Thought

World Environment Day 2013

fwclogoToday, the second day of the European Green Week conference in Brussels, is World Environment Day.  The theme of the conference is Cleaner Air for All, while World Environment Day is centred around supporting the anti-food waste and food loss campaign, Think.Eat.Save.

Every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted, equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger. Today we are being urged to become more aware of the environmental impact of our food choices and of the enormous imbalance in lifestyles in the world. For the average UK family, as written by Philip Clarke, the Chief Executive of Tesco, food waste costs Tesco customers around £680 ($1,045) a year.

To get involved in Green Week, the largest conference on the environment in Europe, you can follow the debates online and via social media. All the details are here: www.greenweek2013.eu. To see how others are supporting World Environment Day and how you can get involved visit: http://www.unep.org/wed/activities/

To become a more informed consumer you can visit Generation Awake, an EU campaign on resource efficiency. In their words, “making smart day-to-day decisions that consider the environment will help you save money and improve your lifestyle as well as make your city, your country, Europe and the planet healthier and more sustainable.”


What we’ve been reading this week

Every week we summarise the news stories and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Bill gates reviews One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World, The Gates Notes

How to manage post-harvest loss, The Guardian Farming and Food Security Hub

A vaccine to boost global food production, Israel 21c

Africa: underestimating GDP, Financial Times, beyondbrics

EU Parliament agrees CAP reform ‘compromises’, Farmers Guardian

Food and petrol prices keep inflation unchanged at 2.7%, The Guardian

Soil determines fate of phosphorous, Brown University

Recent patterns of crop yield growth and stagnation, Nature communications

Betting on Hunger: Is Financial Speculation to Blame for High Food Prices?, Time

Joyce Banda: ‘I want Malawians to say our country became a better place’, The Guardian

“Peak farmland” is here, crop area to diminish: study, Reuters

A global agricultural boom for Brazil, The Washington Post