“Caring for the Planet from the Ground” is the theme of this year’s World Soil Day (#worldsoilday). World Soil Day (WSD) is an annual campaign aimed at raising awareness of the critical importance of healthy soils and advocating for the sustainable management of global soil resources. In June 2013, the FAO Conference endorsed WSD and requested for it to be officially adopted at the 68th UN General Assembly. As a result, 5 December 2014 was designated as the first official WSD. So why is soil so important and why should we care about the health of it?
"It is difficult to rate the importance of the different soil functions, since all are vital to our well-being to some extent. However, the function of supporting food and agriculture worldwide is fundamental for the preservation and advancement of human life on this planet." – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO).
The multiple roles of soil often go unnoticed. During time spent carrying out research for this blog I came across the following quote which I feel really captures the relevance of soil health for the One Health concept:
‘The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible’.
This was actually said seven decades ago by Lady Eva Balfour, one of the first women to study agriculture at an English University, who went on to found the Soil Association in 1946. Yet it seems that on many levels we are still to realise the connectedness between health in soils, plants, animals and people.
By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, Editor of Animal Breeding Abstracts
According to a recent report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), patenting activity in the field of animal genetics is focusing on medical and pharmaceutical markets, rather than animal products for human nutrition.
The Patent Landscape Report on Animal Genetic Resources was presented at the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Technical Group on Animal Genetic Resources at FAO in Rome on 27 November 2014. This report is the first ever large-scale quantitative analysis, grouping data on patenting activity involving livestock animals, and is the outcome of WIPO’s collaboration with the Animal Genetic Resources Branch of FAO.
More than 14 million patent documents on 17 animal species and subspecies, central to global agriculture and food security were analysed, spanning the period between 1976 and 2013.
A quantitative indicator of trends in patent activity for animal genetic resources has been developed - it can be updated and refined over time to respond to policy needs. The indicator shows that patenting in the area of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture peaked in 2001 and has been declining since then. It is speculated that this decline may be linked to more-restrictive patent laws and lagging consumer demand for genetically modified animals.
The United Nations has declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) to recognize the importance of family farming in reducing poverty and improving global food security. So what is family farming?
At the start of this new year (as at the start of many previous years), I am making the resolutions of improving my diet and getting fitter with the aim of ending 2013 healthier than my current state! From this personal level, I was interested to read about the launch of Food Tank: The Food Think Tank on January 10th and their views on the state of the World population's food supply and health. Driven by the global situation in 2013 that sees nearly one billion people still hungry and more than one billion suffering from the effects of being overweight and obese, this Think Tank's goal is to be a clearing house and community to inform, share, and scale up innovations that are helping alleviate hunger and poverty while also protecting the environment. The forum aims to offer original research, share stories of success and impact, and highlight what's working on the ground. Of particular interest are the Food Tank’s 13 resolutions to change the food system in 2013:
May 22nd is the International Day for Biological Diversity
2008. This year’s
theme is ‘Biodiversity in
Agriculture‘. According to the Convention on
Biodiversity who are co-promoting the day’s festivities along with such
luminaries of food and nutrition as the FAO, modern food production is
responsible for both increasing and decreasing biodiversity. One of the things
the CBD is interested in is stabilising the balance, so we can benefit from
improved food (and fuel) production, whilst preserving species (the ‘genetic
treasures’) that could become the food ingredients and medicines of the future.
Agriculture is mostly concerned with efficient production of nutritious, safe
foodstuffs. To do this involves the promotion and prevention of growth of an
enormous number of different species, soil, plant and animal-based organisms of
various shapes and sizes – minimising the pests and pathogens while promoting
the useful and edible ones.
Biological diversity in food is a very diverse subject area indeed.