New study produces biofuel and animal feed from the same crop

‘First generation’ bioethanol is produced directly from food crops such as corn and sugarcane.  Global production of bioethanol has been increasing in recent years due to policies in many countries that consider biofuel as a renewable alternative to fossil fuels. While it is widely recognised as means to improve future energy security, the rapid expansion…
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“Land Belongs to the Future, Let’s Climate Proof It” – World Day to Combat Desertification 2014

June 17 has been designated by the United Nations as World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCD).  The slogan of this year’s WDCD is ‘Land Belongs to the Future, Let’s Climate Proof It’, which aims to ‘highlight the benefits of mainstreaming sustainable land management policies and practices into our collective response to climate change’.  The…
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Reducing hunger and undernutrition – how are we doing?

Hunger and undernutrition are amongst the most persistent global development challenges. Part of Millennium Development Goal 1 is to ‘Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger’ (UN, 2012). With global numbers of undernourished people static at 870 million for the past 5 years and undernutrition contributing to the deaths…
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Recent developments in the world of biofuels

Opinions on the use of crops for biofuel and bioenergy continue to be polarized – are they a ‘good thing’ or not? When are they a ‘good thing’? Who benefits? How do you measure the impacts and their interactions at a local, national and international level on food security, land resources, water, greenhouse gas emissions,…
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Global research efforts tackle food security.

On January 28, Dave Simpson wrote on Hand picked (‘Redesigning the global food system’) about the recent release of the Foresight report, The Future of Food and Farming, which argues for fundamental change to the global food system if a rapidly expanding global population is to be fed over the next 40 years. On 10…
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Epigenetics: epi what?

Pity the poor editor on BBC’s news programme  “Breakfast” (11 jan 2011) subtitling, as Professor Robert Winston and others discussed the possibility of gender selection to "complete your family in the way you desire" i.e. to finally achieve that longed for girl or boy. Throughout the discussion the text editor had kept up admirably, coping…
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Focusing food security efforts where they are needed

The current World Summit on Food Security , as noted in an earlier blog, is a major effort to focus agriculture to lower risks of starvation and economic insecurity. But how can researchers and planners work out what is needed where? John Dixon of ACIAR and his co-authors describe a major Food and Agriculture Organization –…
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Climate change – the influence on food security

“When it rains, it does not rain on one roof only”  This is a saying from the home village in western Kenya of my friend and colleague Dennis Rangi, CABI’s Executive Director for International Development. He said this in his introduction to the CABI Summit in London which I though was particularly apt as I…
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Better farm productivity is not enough – We need to “talk more about losing less”

If humanity is to continue to avert disaster and the Malthusian nightmare as growing populations exert ever increasing pressures on scarce earth resources, then we need some new solutions to old problems in agriculture, and we need to use some of the old solutions a lot better. In particular we need to recognise that we…
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Food Price Hikes – Crisis and Opportunity?

The drastic rises in prices of food during 2007-2008 had severe consequences, but could such rises present an opportunity? Antonio Martuscelli believes “High food prices in the short-run are very damaging for low-income groups of the population in developing countries. At the same time, high prices are an incentive for producers and extremely important for…
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