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This thematic issue of Science for Environment Policy presents recent peer-reviewed research examining the impact of AES on European farming, with a particular focus on biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. AES have been shown to benefit a range of animals and plants by increasing the number of individuals and species. However, as with all measurements involving complex ecosystems, the findings and causal links are nuanced, and sometimes difficult to isolate.

Food and the Environment: How what we eat impacts the planet

By Robert Lyons on 25th April 2017
Found in: Events
Date and Time: 
Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - 12:30 to 14:30

Edinburgh

Food Researchers in Edinburgh (FRiED) and RSPB Scotland, on behalf of the Scottish Food Coalition, are hosting this talk by Professor Tim Benton, Dean of Strategic Research Initiatives at the University of Leeds and former “Champion” of the UK’s Global Food Security programme, on the impacts of our food system on the environment.

The authors of this paper compare the impact of intensification in the beef and dairy sectors via two pathways; either intensification within a system (eg, a mixed crop-livestock system) or through transitioning to another more productive system (from pasture to mixed crop-livestock production) and assesses the mitigation potential that could arise. The paper reviews the impacts of these forms of intensification on both GHG emissions, land occupation and land use change (LUC), the last of which has often been excluded in other similar analyses.  

This new report offers a clear account of global pesticide use in agriculture and its impact on human rights; the negative consequences that pesticide practices have had on human health, the environment and society, which are underreported and monitored in the shadow of a prevailing and narrow focus on “food security”, are described; and the environmental and human rights regimes are examined to determine whether the constituent rules are sufficient to protect farm workers, consumers and vulnerable groups, as well as the natural resources that are necessary to support sustainable

A study has evaluated three types of media campaign conducted by a large UK supermarket to encourage shoppers to reduce their food waste. These used social media, an e-newsletter and a print/digital magazine, respectively. Although they all appeared to lead to reductions in food waste to some extent, similar behavioural changes were also seen for customers who had not participated in any of the campaigns.

A new paper published in Agricultural Systems examines system losses quantified from primary production to human food requirements. The study finds that 44% of harvested crops dry matter was lost prior to human consumption. The highest loss rate was in livestock production, but the largest losses were before harvest. Over-eating is also at least as large a contributor to food system losses as consumer waste.

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The Global Food Security (GFS) programme has published a new report providing evidence for the existence of environmental tipping points and exploring potential consequences for global food security.

Key points include:

Household food waste in the UK, 2015

By Robert Lyons on 17th January 2017
Found in: Research and Resources

This WRAP report provides estimates for total and avoidable household food waste (HHFW) for 2014 and 2015, for the UK. The changes compared to 2012 and previous estimates are discussed in the context of factors influencing food waste and the Courtauld Commitment 3 target for household food waste prevention. Key points are that the estimated amount of HHFW in the UK for 2015 was 7.3 million tonnes, and that overall there has been no statistically significant change in the estimated levels of HHFW between 2012 and 2015.

Researchers have assessed how changes in production efficiency and dietary patterns can combine to ensure food supply whilst minimising the global environmental impact of food production. The gain in the production efficiency of agriculture was found to be insufficient to meet future food demand whilst preventing additional environmental burdens, if dietary trends continue to grow based on GDP.

Using food waste as pig feed

By Robert Lyons on 22nd November 2016
Found in: Research and Resources

This FCRN blog post by Karen Luyckz argues that instead of feeding virgin crops like soy, barley or maize to pigs and chickens, we should allow these omnivores to eat our leftovers, as they’ve done for thousands of years. In fact, in the UK, during both world wars leftover food was the only thing they could eat at all, as it was illegal to feed pigs any food that was deemed fit for human consumption.

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