Insects crucial for ecosystem functioning and food production
A comprehensive review of insect declines around the world gives a stark picture of the scale of the declines and the consequences both for ecology and human welfare. The paper, published in Biological Conservation, warns that 40% of the world’s insect species could become extinct within a few decades under current trends. And the loss of this diversity could lead to dramatic increases in pest insects which harm food production and human health.
Last week (29 January 2019) CABI was awarded a $1.49 million grant from the Gates Foundation to work with them to help increase food security in India and Ethiopia through better access to data on soil health, agronomy and fertilizers. In this blog Communications Manager Wayne Coles looks at whether or not the use of digital data in agriculture can have a real impact on our need to feed the world….
The complexity of Africa’s growing food problem, which is exacerbated by social and climatic factors, should not be underestimated. Its population, for example, will exceed 42 million a year over the next three decades while a rise in extreme weather events will wreak havoc on farming communities already grappling with threats to crop yields from a range of agricultural pests and diseases.
By Jennifer Cole, Royal Holloway, University of London
It has long been clear that certain foods and dietary choices are not good for human health, but there is now increasing evidence that they can also be bad for the health of the planet. The recently published Food in the Anthropocene: EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems highlights that it may not be possible to feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries unless we make significant changes to our diets and to the way food systems are managed. In particular, we need to eat much less meat, particularly red meat from grain-fed livestock.
For many, December means celebrating Christmas and a central part of that is a Christmas tree. Evergreen trees have been used in celebration for centuries. The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews used evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life. Pagans worshiped trees, and Romans used evergreen wreaths during the festival of Saturnalia.
The trees commonly used as Christmas decorations come from the genus Picea which is made up of around 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Picaceae. Popular Christmas tree species include Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, and Norway Spruce.
The modern-day Christmas tree is thought to have started in 16th century Germany when Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. The Christmas traditions we know today were shaped by the Victorians, when the first Christmas tree was brought from Germany to the British royal household by Prince Albert in the 1840s. These days, around
By Janny Vos, Director of Strategic Partnerships at CABI
I recently attended the launch of the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) in The Hague where the words of the CEO of the World Bank – Kristalina Georgieva – resonated strongly with my work as part of an organisation that aims to improve people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. In a nutshell, it’s all about working together as we aim to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ms Georgieva said, “What is new is the scope, the speed and the scale at which we must work to adapt to climate change. And it is cost effective as the returns on investments will be high.” CABI’s primary interests are helping farmers to grow more and lose less to agricultural pests and diseases, and the ‘returns on investments’ are indeed ‘high’ – they’re ultimately about securing food and nutrition security for the world’s growing population.
A survey revealed that “climate change” remains a top recognisable and used phrase in the first two decades of this century. Today, climate change generates enormous interest socially and has become an agenda in major meetings governing varied subjects such as national security, trade, economics, agriculture, public health and the environment. Evidence of climate change can be seen in many forms from vanishing island nations in the Pacific Ocean to emerging opportunities for farming in the defrosting landscape of Greenland. Public awareness of climate change is gradually growing, particularly after the production of the famed Al Gore documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”. People across the world viewed this with great conviction and related it to incidents they have themselves encountered. Though we as individuals remain powerless to influence this global phenomenon, I am sure we are at least united once as humans. It will now take a political will to bring it to action.
Would you eat a carrot with three roots or an overly curved cucumber? The contribution of "ugly" fruit and vegetables to food wastage is not a new problem but one that has moved in and out of the spotlight for several years. A new BBC production "Hugh’s War on Waste", fronted by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, aims to reduce the amount of waste that Britain produces and is probably the first program in which a huge pile of parsnips made viewers very angry. In the Program, Hugh visited a family ran farm that supplied Parsnips to a major UK supermarket. The strict policies imposed by the supermarket on how the parsnips should look meant that up to 40% of the farm’s root veg, equating to 20 tonnes of parsnips -or enough to fill nearly 300 shopping trolleys -never made it to the shelves. That was just one week’s wastage.