February 8, 2016

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

 REUTERS/Amit Dave

A Diet Change to Fight Climate Change: Eat More Pulses
Climate change may seem to many of us a challenge too daunting to tackle directly through our own actions. But there is one small change each of us can do to play our part—shifting our diets to be healthier and more environmentally sustainable. An understated food group, pulses include common beans, chickpeas, faba bean, dried peas, and lentils, and have an extraordinary range of health and environmental benefits. Pulses reduce the use of fossil fuels, contribute to soil fertilization, and are highly water efficient.
Are Robots Taking over the Farm? In Japan, They Are.
A Japanese firm will soon open what may be the most futuristic farm yet: operated by robots, with human assistants in lab coats instead of overalls, and vegetables growing vertically on ceiling-high metal shelves. Spread, a cutting-edge food producer based in Kyoto, says its one-acre indoor farm will open in 2017, producing 30,000 heads of pesticide-free lettuce a day. By using efficient lighting and watering and shrinking the number of human employees, Spread will significantly reduce its costs.
Tax Food, Not Just Fuel, to Save the Planet
Every year that global carbon dioxide levels go up, countries need more ways to cut emissions. A new paper reasons that growing food, the source of about one-third of carbon dioxide pollution, should also be a target for taxation. The good news is that they're not talking about food that's good for you. The items most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions are often the least healthy, particularly red meat.
NY Students Win $20,000 Grant for Anti-Hunger App Idea
Students from a New York high school have won a $20,000 grant from Verizon for their concept for an app to combat hunger. The app would give consumers a chance to buy a meal for a needy person while ordering food for themselves. In addition to winning the grant, the students will work alongside experts from the Center for Mobile Learning at the MIT Media Lab to turn their idea into a working mobile app.
Sizzling Steaks May Soon Be Lab-Grown
Several startups are racing to be the first to fill consumers’ plates with laboratory-developed hamburgers and sausages. The goal is to remake modern animal agriculture, which the UN estimates consumes one-third of the world’s grains. The companies say that growing meat with cells and bioreactors consumes a fraction of the nutrients, creates far less waste, and avoids the need for antibiotics and additives commonly used in meat production.


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

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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