Growing agriculture: nutrition community points the way to achieving SDG2 by 2030

By Shenggen Fan, Sivan Yosef, and Rajul Pandya-Lorch

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have launched a race to transform our world for the better little more than a decade from now. The goals are idealistic, setting a high bar for every aspect of quality of life, from health and education to gender equality and climate action. SDG2 seeks to eliminate global hunger by 2030. But as we move closer to that deadline, achieving SDG2 seems further away. Recent years have been particularly disheartening, with the number of undernourished people continuing to rise annually. In 2015, there were 784 million hungry people in the world; in 2016, 804 million; and in 2017, the most recent year for which data was available, that number reached 821 million people. Adult obesity also continues to worsen in rich and poor countries alike: More than 1 in 8 adults, or 672 million people around the world, are now considered obese.

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A woman examines and sorts iron beans in Rwanda. Nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs, such as biofortification or homestead food production systems, may be well suited for increasing people’s consumption of high-quality diets. Photo courtesy of IFPRI (Mel Oluoch/HarvestPlus)

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Why a global insect decline affects us all

Insects crucial for ecosystem functioning and food production

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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.

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National Meadows Day 2018

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British wildflower meadows are a hive of biological diversity but have largely been lost due to conversion to agriculture. CC0 Couleur via Pixabay

 

National meadows day is an annual awareness event focussed around the first Saturday of July, but up and down the country activities took over the whole weekend. Traditionally managed British meadows are characterised by low soil fertility and actively managed cutting or grazing, supporting a range of colourful flowering species including the oxeye daisies seen in the picture above. These species rich meadows, which used to cover much of England’s countryside, were traditionally generated by farmers managing for hay and pasture. Ironically these important habitats have now largely been eradicated by modern agriculture. In recognition of this fact there are now numerous conservation projects and financial incentives in place to encourage the maintenance and regeneration of British Meadows. But with so many environmental schemes and species vying for position in British conservation why are meadows so important and how can agriculture help? Continue reading

International Day for Biological Diversity 2018

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Image credit: Convention on Biological Diversity IDB2018 Accessed: 18/05/2018 (https://www.cbd.int/idb/2018/)

This year the 22nd of May will be a celebration of the progress made since the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity 25 years ago. The International day for Biological Diversity was designed to overlap with the UNs post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the date chose to commemorate the adoption of the Convention of Biodiversity in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit. Previous themes promoted over the years have included: biodiversity and sustainable tourism, water and biodiversity, invasive alien species and biodiversity and climate change.

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World Environment Day 2017 – “Connecting People to Nature”

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First held in 1974, World Environment Day (WED) is considered to be the largest global event for positive environmental action, with participation from over 143 countries.  It takes place on 5th June each year and is a flagship campaign for driving change and raising awareness on emerging environmental issues, from climate change and wildlife crime, to resource consumption and marine pollution.  This year's host country is Canada and the chosen theme is 'Connecting People to Nature – in the city and on the land, from the poles to the equator' which encourages us to consider our role within nature and how closely we depend on it. 

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School expedition gathers data on biodiversity in Mexico

Scuba quadrat Scuba quadrats. Image credit: David H. Williams, Rye St Antony

Our guest blogger this month is David Williams, who is the Head of Science at Rye St Antony School, Oxford. He recently led a group of schoolgirls on an Operation Wallacea expedition to Mexico, where they took part in a conservation project which involved conducting mammal surveys and assessing the impacts of tourism on turtle populations and coral reefs. David tells his story as a diary looking at events over the two-week expedition.

I was delighted to be asked to blog on this subject. One of my student’s parents works at CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International) – an organisation that focuses on the environment and biodiversity. As an editor at this organisation, she saw the opportunity to highlight the work of schools and conservation. I’m keen to promote science both as a career and as an interest for life, and feel that this is best done by encouraging an appreciation of science as a real, relevant and ongoing subject. My story starts here …

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Four new bee species described in Australia – many more remain unidentified

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, CAB International, Wallingford, UK.

Bee specialists from South Australia have described four new native bees. Three of these bee species have been described as  having narrow faces and very long mouths, allowing them to feed on slender flowers found on the emu bush, a hardy native of the Australian desert environment, and to collect the nectar through a narrow constriction at the base of the emu bush flowers. Based on the authors' description, the way these bees have adapted to feed on emu bush flowers is an excellent example of evolution. The fourth species belongs to a different group and has a more commonly observed round-shaped head.

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The four new species belong to the genus Euhesma. Their description is based on evaluation of DNA ‘barcoding’ and morphological comparison of the bees with museum specimens.

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