Climate change could trigger a global food crisis, new U.N. report says


If climate change is left unchecked, rising temperatures, extreme weather and land degradation could trigger a global food crisis, according to a report released Thursday by a United Nations panel.

The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change examined how agriculture will be affected by global warming, as well as how food production and other changes in land use are expected to contribute to climate change in the future.

Source: Climate change could trigger a global food crisis, new U.N. report says

A Fourth of the World Is Living Under Extreme Water Stress | EcoWatch


One quarter of the world’s population are living in areas where the competition for water resources is extreme, according to a new report from the Washington-based global research group World Resource Institute (WRI), as The Guardian reported.

Around the world 17 countries, including India, which is home to 1.3 billion people, face extreme water stress. That means, “irrigated agriculture, industries and municipalities withdraw more than 80 percent of their available supply on average every year,” the WRI report said.

Source: A Fourth of the World Is Living Under Extreme Water Stress, Says New Research – EcoWatch

Britain faces food shortages in no-deal Brexit scenario, industry body says | Reuters


Britain will experience shortages of some fresh foods for weeks or even months if a disorderly no-deal Brexit leaves perishable produce rotting in lorries at ports, Britain’s food and drink lobby warned on Wednesday.

Retailers such as Tesco (TSCO.L) have warned that leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 without a transition deal would be problematic as so much fresh produce is imported and warehouses are stocked full ahead of Christmas.

Source: Britain faces food shortages in no-deal Brexit scenario, industry body says – Reuters

U.S. farmers suffer ‘body blow’ as China slams door on farm purchases | Reuters


Chinese companies have stopped buying U.S. agricultural products, China’s Commerce Ministry said on Tuesday, a blow to U.S. farmers who have already seen their exports slashed by the more than year-old trade war.

China may also impose additional tariffs on U.S. farm products, the Ministry said, raising the barrier to future trade that further targets rural states that supported U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

Source: U.S. farmers suffer ‘body blow’ as China slams door on farm purchases – Reuters

Fast Food Companies Are Seeking Political Cover in the Developing World


In the United States and Europe, junk food sales have precipitously declined since the late 1990s.

Analysts have put the change up to greater health consciousness, increasing labor costs, decreasing purchasing power among the poor, new tastes among millennials, and the rise of “fast casual” dining options, among other market shifts.

For their part, the soda and snack food companies, such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé, have turned to emerging markets to secure profits. And they are doing everything they can to keep their new markets pliable.

The alliances that the snack food and soda industries cultivate today will have grave policy consequences in the future.

Politicians who have benefited from the companies’ largesse will be hard pressed to stiffen regulations limiting the marketing and sale of junk food products.

And such limits are critical at a time when obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise among children and the poor in countries such as Mexico and Brazil.

Mexico has become a particularly important staging ground for this new mode of business. There, Coca-Cola has built a strong network of supporters within government, ranging from presidents to senior health-care officials.

PepsiCo went so far in 2007 as to work with the country’s Secretariat of Public Education to create a school exercise program, Vive Saludable Escuela, which won PepsiCo political favor and burnished its public image.

And Nestlé locked in the support of former President Enrique Peña Nieto by providing prepackaged biscuits for his government’s anti-hunger program.

A similar dynamic prevails in Brazil, where Nestlé is a particularly powerful player.

Finally, in India, the Modi government perceives companies such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo as vital to agricultural development. Delhi therefore has little incentive to effectively limit the marketing and sale of these companies’ products.

In fact, Modi’s mandate that all flavored sodas include two percent locally produced fruit ensures that what profits the soda companies also serves the prime minister’s political and economic agenda.

Mexico, Brazil, and India’s governments have done a commendable job of recognizing the need to improve public health. But for efforts to that end to remain vigorous and independent, the governments will have to limit the junk food industry’s relationship with government and civil society.

Source: Fast Food Companies Are Seeking Political Cover in the Developing World

Are we eating ourselves and our planet to extinction? | Aeon Essays

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During our hunter-gatherer past, which constitutes 99 per cent of our history as a species, those omnivorous tastes served us well.

We routinely dined to capacity on a wide variety of nutritious fare to save us from malnutrition and starvation. (We also, quite frequently, went without food for days or weeks at a time.)

Food quality and quantity were unpredictable, as contingent upon human forces such as trade routes as upon the vagaries of weather and natural cycles. Very early on, we adapted to periodic scarcity, leaping at any chance to pile on calories and storable nutrients – for instance, when we found a bush laden with ripe berries, or a rockpool full of tide-stranded shellfish.

Those who were quick-witted enough to see an opportunity when it presented itself, and had the physiological means to convert extra calories into fat, were more likely to survive long stretches between meals, and to raise healthy offspring.

These adaptations had long been in place when humankind began its first huge revolution, the agricultural, which allowed food storage.

Source: Are we eating ourselves and our planet to extinction? | Aeon Essays

In New York, a diverse, new group works the soil | Reuters


“Farming – for where I grew up – was a very unusual career choice,” said Guenther, 32, who grew up in a New York City suburb and identifies as gender non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. But “everybody belongs on the land in their own way. None of us should feel alienated from it.”

Guenther grows potatoes, squash, wheat and other crops at Quail Hill, the Amagansett, New York, farm they manage on land donated to the Peconic Land Trust, and is part of a growing cadre of gender-diverse college graduates in their 20s and 30s who are changing the face of organic farming.

Source: In New York, a diverse, new group works the soil – Reuters

NASA is grappling with our biggest limitation in spaceflight: our own bodies. | Vox


The human body has evolved, for hundreds of thousands of years, to thrive on the surface of the Earth.

But what happens when you take such an earthbound body and put it in the weightlessness of space?

Things get weird.

Astronauts commonly report diminished eyesight upon their return home, possibly because the eyeball changes shape in space and tissues surrounding the optic nerves become swollen.

Without the constant tug of gravity, bones become more brittle and muscles atrophy.

Source: NASA is grappling with our biggest limitation in spaceflight: our own bodies. – Vox

Agriculture Department suspends data collection for honeybees after Trump budget cuts | TheHill

The U.S. Department of Agriculture temporarily suspended data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies report, citing fiscal cuts as a number of other research programs are scaled back under the Trump administration, CNN reports.

The department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) said in a statement earlier this week that although it won’t be collecting quarterly data this July for the report, the office still plans to release the annual report at the start of next month.

Source: Agriculture Department suspends data collection for honeybees after Trump budget cuts | TheHill

A Modernized New Deal Could Revive the American Agriculture Industry | Pacific Standard

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As scholars who study agroecology, agrarian change, and food politics, we believe U.S. agriculture needs to make a systemwide shift that cuts carbon emissions, reduces vulnerability to climate chaos, and prioritizes economic justice.

We call this process a just transition–an idea often invoked to describe moving workers from shrinking industries like coal mining into more viable fields.

But it also applies to modern agriculture, an industry that in our view is dying–not because it isn’t producing enough, but because it is contributing to climate change and exacerbating rural problems, from income inequality to the opioid crisis.

Source: A Modernized New Deal Could Revive the American Agriculture Industry – Pacific Standard