Food Research Collaboration – Sugar


Couple of papers on sugar from the Food Research Collaboration:


Forests are ‘key feature’ of food security landscape


6 May 2015

The study calculates that almost one-in-six people depend on forests for food and income

Forests can play a vital role in supplementing global food and nutrition security but this role is currently being overlooked, a report suggests.

The study says that tree-based farming provides resilience against extreme weather events, which can wipe out traditional food crops.

It warns that policies focusing on traditional agriculture often overlook the role forest farming could play.

The findings were presented at the UN Forum on Forests in New York, US.

The report is the result of a collaboration of more than 60 leading scientists, co-ordinated by the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) on behalf of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF).

“The report is not trying to suggest that people should start relying on forests more than conventional agriculture,” explained Bhaskar Vira, the chair of the panel which compiled the report.

“It is very much about the complementary roles that forests can play alongside conventional agriculture.

“The evidence shows that a large number of people still rely on the food from forests and trees to supplement their diet,” Dr Vira, director of the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute.

Rest of article here.

The diet dilemma


Balancing health and sustainability and obesity’s global toll. 

Interesting article and stats – originally posted here.


The debate regarding the make-up of a sustainable diet is likely to rage on into 2015. A recent paper published in the journal Current Opinion in Food Science neatly describes the headaches involved in aligning health and environmental agendas.

“Healthy eating recommendations call for increased consumption of fruit and vegetables. However, fruit and vegetables are crops with a high ratio of losses in production and retailing, and the category is also causing an especially large share of household food waste,” writes Jessica Aschemann-Witzel from the University of Aarhus, in Denmark.

 She has a point. But this doesn’t mean that health and sustainability are mutually exclusive. Instead, Aschemann-Witzel, an associate professor in the university’s centre for research on customer relations in the food sector, argues for “understanding and acknowledging the trade-offs that consumers might encounter or perceive as important in order to avoid that policies pursuing one goal are negatively impacting the other, and instead ensure they are mutually supportive”. An ability to combine health and environmental attributes, for example through meta-labels (see page 23 Feb Footprint), could help kill two birds with one stone. As would eating “just the right amount” of food.

Weight of the World

Not everyone is eating just the right amount, currently at least. Researchersv at the McKinsey Global Institute have calculated that more than 2.1 billion people are overweight or obese (that’s almost one  in three people). Obesity is also responsible for 5% of all deaths worldwide. And it’s quite a strain on the public purse too: the global economic impact is $2 trillion, more than alcoholism ($1.4 trillion) and only a shade less than smoking and armed violence, war and terrorism (both $2.1 trillion). McKinsey focused on the UK in its detailed report, showing that deploying 44 interventions – 95% of which are “low-cost, high impact” – could return 20% of overweight Brits to normal weight. Some of the most effective tactics include portion control and the reformulation of products.

Mapping a route from a planet in peril to a world of well-being


Extract below from foreword to the recent Friends of the Earth research publication.

Mapping a route from a planet in peril to a world of well-being: How we can stop acting stupid and live up to our billing as the smartest species of all time.

“Humans are ingenious. We’ve done amazing things. Medicines to cure many ills. Men on the moon. Cities that support billions of people. Communications systems that enable us to work, socialise and share information across the globe.

We’re doing some amazing things right now. Across the world we’re rapidly increasing the use of solar panels, we’re beginning to mass produce electric cars, and we’re cutting deaths from malaria. Far-sighted companies are putting sustainability at their core. Digital technology is racing ahead, improving democracies and delivering huge efficiencies and innovation. Our leading cities are collaborating to forge real solutions.

Yet we’re also ravaging the natural world – our natural life-support systems. Climate change is causing extreme weather events. Species are disappearing 100-1,000 times faster
than the normal extinction rate. Acidification of oceans and degradation of soils threaten food production. Meanwhile billions of people already go hungry, lack basic services, are excluded from full participation in society and don’t have decent work. At the other end of the spectrum the developed world faces crises of obesity and over-consumption in fearful, gated communities.

On our current course, in the next two decades we’ll do profound damage to human welfare, economies, and ecosystems.

We urgently need to turn this situation around. We must enable people everywhere to achieve well-being – those freedoms and capabilities that enable us all to live healthy, fulfilled lives on a
planet that can sustain us. But we must also recognise that unless we look after the planet it will be impossible for people now and in the future to achieve personal well-being.

That’s why Friends of the Earth has embarked on an unprecedented three-year research project. The Route Map Project will identify what needs to change to focus some of humanity’s amazing abilities – to be collaborative, ingenious, and
empathetic – on solving the environmental and social challenges we face and building a brighter future for everyone. This research will inspire the beginning of a new campaigning journey for Friends of the Earth.

We know change won’t be easy: there’s a dangerous and growing gap between scientific understanding of the challenges and public and political responses. But there’s also an explosion
of interest – especially in business, politics and academia – in finding a new path. Increasing numbers of people recognise that the damaged economy, gross inequalities and environmental
crisis of the world today are untenable. But the right kind of change won’t happen without a shared vision of a better world. A vision backed up with a compelling route map to get there, and
coupled with pressure from civil society, businesses and thinkers.

We know change is possible. History tells us that. Without change women wouldn’t have the vote, slavery would still be commonplace, the National Health Service wouldn’t exist, and there would have been no industrial or green revolutions. Without the digital revolution I wouldn’t be writing
this on a computer. The coming decades will throw up huge challenges and extraordinary uncertainty. As the world becomes increasingly inter-connected, we’ll cross thresholds in environmental, social and economic systems. Unforeseen events, so-called black swans, will happen. We do know the world population will grow, food production will be challenged, and the supply of some resources will struggle to keep up with demand.

But opportunities are bound to emerge from these challenges. If we seize the opportunities we could produce a much more stable, equal and healthy society by 2050.

We could provide well-being for everyone and for our planet.”

Link to full document –