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  • The food industry is undergoing huge transformation, with the emergence of new super markets, new ingredients, and new proteins; retailers coming up with new ideas, from smart packaging to clean labelling; and new legislation to comply with.

  • The world’s population didn’t hit 1 billion until 1804. It wasn’t until 1927 that the two billionth person was born.

  • In a previous post I argued that we need to change the way we talk about climate change in order to tackle it

  • Do any, or a number, of these symptoms seem familiar to you: brain fog, brittle nails, dry hair, headache, restless legs, food cravings, problems with your menses, feelings of anxiety, heart palpitations, or constant fatigue? Are you pale in complexion and is the waterline around your eyes light in color? If your answer is yes to a number of these issues, you might need to have yourself checked out for anemia.

  • Protectionism was once a staple of the political left.

  • Rice is a diet staple in the countries of Southeast Asia, and they are large producers and traders in the crop, but diets are changing with taste, increased affluence and consumers’ desire for greater convenience

  • As the globe marks World Diabetes Day this Wednesday, the founder of a juice company claims he has found a successful way to remove 87% of sugar from fruit juice.

  • The September 2019 Household Affordability Index shows that more than half of the population are living on less than R1 230 a month. The Index also shows that a quarter of the population, approximately 13.8 million people, are living on less than R19 a day.

  • 'Food' has been created from carbon dioxide and electricity, according to a team of scientists.

  • The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has just released its report, Transforming food and agriculture to achieve the SDG’s.

  • Avocados may serve as a good way to prevent or delay diabetes and manage obesity, finds a new study at the University of Guelph (U of G). 

  • An international team of scientists has issued a clear and unequivocal warning that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency. In a declaration endorsed by more than 11,000 signatories from 153 countries, they stress that “untold human suffering” is unavoidable without deep and lasting shifts in human activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

  • As technology becomes an integral part of the agriculture industry, farmers are increasingly moving their growing operations indoors.

  • A survey of over six thousand sub-Saharan households shows an estimated 39% experience severely unreliable access to food.

  • Food companies are answering customer demands by looking for better ways to collect, analyze and disseminate information on how food is produced, particularly in terms of sustainability.

  • By 2050, it is estimated that our planet will have 9 billion inhabitants. And they all need one thing: food.

  • One key component of eating sustainably is eating locally-grown food that is considered in-season. But why?

  • We live in extremely challenging times.

  • Climate change is altering conditions that sustain food production, with cascading consequences for food security and global economies. Recent research evaluated the simultaneous impacts of climate change on agriculture and marine fisheries globally.

  • Is organic agriculture the solution to our global food system challenges? That's been the premise and promise of the organic movement since its origins in the 1920s: farming that's healthy, ecological, and socially just.

    Many people from consumers and farmers to scientists and international organisations believe that organic agriculture can produce enough nutritious food to feed the world without destroying the environment, while being more resilient to climate change and improving the livelihoods of farmers.

    But as with many important issues of our time, there are more passionate opinions about organic agriculture than there is scientific evidence to support them. And there's nothing black or white about organic agriculture.

    For a paper published today in the journal Science Advances, we systematically and rigorously evaluated the performance of organic versus conventional agriculture on three key fronts  environmental impact, producer and consumer benefits. As much as possible, we based our review on previous quantitative synthesis of the scientific literature  so-called meta-analyses. We also examined whether those studies agree or disagree in their verdicts.

    We discovered that organic farming does matter  just not in the way most people think.

    Organic wins on some fronts and loses on others. Author providedEnvironmental impacts
    Compared to a neighbouring conventional farm, an organic farm at first appears to be better for the environment. But that's not the whole story. Here'show it breaks down.

    What's good: Organic farms provide higher biodiversity, hosting more bees, birds and butterflies. They also have higher soil and water quality and emit fewer greenhouse gases.

    What's not-so-good: Organic farming typically yields less product  about 19-25% less. Once we account for that efficiency difference and examine environmental performance per amount of food produced, the organic advantage becomes less certain (few studies have examined this question). Indeed, on some variables, such as water quality and greenhouse gas emissions, organic farms may perform worse than conventional farms, because lower yields per hectare can translate into more environmentally damaging land-clearing.

    Organic farms have more biodiversity than their conventional neighbours. Mike Blake/ReutersConsumer benefits
    The jury's still out on whether the comsumer is better off, too.

    What's good: For consumers in countries with weak pesticide regulations, like India, organic food reduces pesticide exposure. Organic ingredients also most likely have slightly higher levels of some vitamins and secondary metabolites.

    What's not-so-good: Scientists can't confirm whether these minor micronutrient differences actually matter for our health. Because the difference in the nutritional value of organic and conventional food is so small, you'd do better just eating an extra apple every day, whether it's organic or not. Organic food is also more expensive than conventional food at present and therefore inaccessible to poor consumers.

    Pricy organic ingredients don't fall within many consumers budgets. Phil Roeder/flickr, CC BYProducer benefits
    Organic methods bring certain benefits for farmers, some costs and many unknowns.

    What's good: Organic agriculture is typically more profitable up to 35% more, according to a meta-analysis of studies across North America, Europe and India  than conventional farming. Organic also provides more rural employment opportunities because organic management is more labour-intensive than conventional practices. For workers, though, the biggest advantage is that organic decreases thei exposure to toxic agrochemicals.

    What's is-so-good: We still don't know whether organic farms pay higher wages or offer better working conditions than conventional farms. Organic farm workers are most likely exploited in similar ways asthose tilling the fields on conventional farms.

    We still don't know whether organic farms offer better labour conditions. Mike Blake/ReutersThe takeaway
    In short, we cannot determine yet whether organic agriculture could feed the world and reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture while providing decent jobs and giving consumers affordable, nutritious food.

    It's a lot to ask of one industry, and there are still just too many unanswered questions. Some of these questions relate to agriculture, such as whether organic farms can eventually close the yield gap with conventional farms and whether there are enough organic fertilisers to produce all the world's food organically.

    But some questions are also about humanity's collective future. Can people in the rich world learn to change our diet and reduce food waste to avoid having to increase food production as the global population grows? And are enough people willing to work in agriculture to meet the needs of labour-intensive organic farms?

    A more useful question is whether we should continue to eat organic food and expand investment in organic farming. Here the answer is a definitive yes.

    Organic agriculture shows significant promises in many areas. We would be foolish not to consider it an important tool in developing more sustainable global agriculture.

    Only 1% of agricultural land is organically farmed worldwide. If organic land continues to expand at the same rate that it has over the past decade, it will take another century for all agriculture to be organic.

    But organic farming is influence goes far beyond that 1% acreage. Over the past 50 years, organic farms have provided conventional agriculture with examples of new ways to farm and acted as a testing ground for a different set of management practices, from diversifying crop rotationsand composting to using cover crops and conservation tillage. Conventional agriculture has neglected these sustainable practices for too long.

    So yes, you should identify and support those organic farms that are doing a great job of producing environmentally friendly, economically viable, and socially just food. Conscientious consumers can also push to improve organic farming where it is not doing so well  for example on yields and worker rights.

    As scientists, we must close some of the critical knowledge gaps about this farming system to better understand its achievements and help address its challenges.

    But in the meantime, everyone can learn from successful organic farms and help improve the other 99% of agriculture that�s feeding the world today. The conversation

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