Food and agriculture blogs
A new report from the United Kingdom finds that securing food supplies in 2050 means growing more food, on the same land, with fewer impacts. That requires shifts in policy and practice that we can achieve using a mix of politics, science and market forces.
As a consumer you have the potential to promote development through your buying habits. But how effective are you?
Agriculture is just one of the sectors in which carbon labelling — the labelling of a product to show how much carbon (and other greenhouse gases) have been emitted during its ‘lifecycle’ — is being used to show how individual products contribute to climate change. The logic behind applying carbon labels to agriculture seems sound enough: agriculture accounts for 10 to 12 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and produces much of the food we eat and the products we buy. Finding a way to tell consumers how much individual agricultural products contribute to this should encourage them to choose those products with the lowest carbon footprint and help make agriculture more sustainable. But the truth is that it is very difficult to provide accurate carbon labels for agricultural products. And carbon labelling can impact farmers in the developing world in ways that don’t support development.
Earlier this month, I spent a week in Mali, going back to the villages which I have studied for the past 30 years. While international climate negotiators met in Cancun, Mexico, for the UN summit on climate change, I was keen to catch up on how climate change was affecting livelihoods in the West African Sahel.
One interpretation of Lady Gaga’s recent outing in a dress made of raw meat is that it was a statement about our society’s ‘hypocritical attitude to meat’. Have some consumers become so distanced from the way in which their meat is produced that the sight of raw meat is so shocking? And is this willful ignorance representative of a wider refusal to accept the realities of how our consumption of meat impacts both the environment and wider society? If that is the case we ignore it at our own peril.
While the downturn has hit many economic sectors hard, have farmers prospered?
Have we glimpsed real signs of economic recovery?
The war on drugs in Mexico has intensified. A recent article in the Economist reports that drug-related killings have increased by almost 1000 since last year. Moreover, innocent people in Mexico are becoming victims, as drug gang shootings are no longer just targeting police and rival gangs.
Mexico and the US are working to eradicate the problem by investing US$1.3 billion in anti-drug aid, though only US$331 million is to be invested in social intervention. Yet the lack of intervention through social welfare programmes may be the underlying cause of the rapid growth of drug gangs and related violence.
‘Mind-withering stupidity’ is how UK writer George Monbiot characterised the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) decision not to protect bluefin tuna.
The ‘absence of a ban’, he went on to say, ‘ensures that, after one or two more seasons of fishing at current levels, all the jobs and the entire industry are finished forever, along with the magnificent species that supported them’.