October 5, 2015

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

REUTERS/ Jamal Saidi

Food Company Cashes in Chips with Potato Power
In what it says is a world first, 2 Sisters Food Group has installed a plant that allows surplus mash from its production line to be converted into electricity, in a move that should cut carbon emissions by a fifth — and prove that you really can cash in your chips. The company claims its plant in Carlisle should produce 3,500 megawatt hours per year of electricity, or enough to power around 850 homes, and generate a further 5,000 MWh per year in heat for its manufacturing processes.

This Tractor Runs on BS – but It’s the Real, Eco-Friendly Deal
Around the world, farmers are installing anaerobic digesters. These digesters ferment manure and plants into biomethane. Many farmers use the fuel for heating homes and buildings, selling their excess to local grids. Soon, however, many European farmers hope to fuel their machinery via anaerobic digestion, making themselves greener and fuel-independent.

Scientists Sequence Genomes of Microscopic Worms Beneficial to Agriculture
Many nematodes have specialized as pathogens, including those that serve as deadly insect-attacking parasites, making them effective biocontrol agents. Now a research team has sequenced the genomes of five nematodes, specifically, microscopic roundworms, likely to be involved in parasitism and widely used in agriculture as an organic pesticide.

How Technology Is Reducing Our Demands on the Environment
We humans have been giving land back to nature, since we no longer need it for our purposes. Even though the world’s population continues to increase, we have in all likelihood past the peak for farmland; the number of acres under cultivation globally has been slowly declining, and will continue to do so. This phenomenon is the result of technologies like precision agriculture, which allow us to use a lot fewer atoms throughout the economy.

A New Way of Categorizing Farms Can Lead to Improved Sustainability
There are probably as many different types of farms as there are farmers. That presents agricultural researchers and rural planners with a challenge: If they want to find out how best to make farming more sustainable and profitable, they need to pin down the factors that make some farms more viable than others. The issue is addressed in a new paper which explores methods to categorize farms and their relative sustainability.


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA