April 12, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Killer Diets | Cyclone Idai | Industrial Enzymes

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From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future


https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-09-21/5xdymt/557772/224304/quote2.pngTOP STORY

Diets are a Top Killer
A new study published in The Lancet, utilizing data from 195 countries, links the deaths of about 11 million people a year to poor diets. Researchers estimated the impact of poor diets based on the risk of death from heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers and said that unhealthy diets are a larger determinant of ill health that either tobacco or high blood pressure.

While the study finds that those who eat diets high in fresh fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, nuts, and healthy oils, have the lowest diet-related death rates, some are concerned that the current global agricultural system is unprepared to produce enough produce to feed everyone a healthy diet.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkyvc/557772/225998/camera_icon.pngPHOTO OF THE WEEK

Dried corn cobs hang from a ceiling at a house in the small village of Xecachelaj, Santa Maria Chiquimula, Guatemala. (REUTERS/Luis Echeverria)​​​​​​

https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/globe_icon.pngBIG ACTORS 

Fights in Brazil: Indigenous groups in Brazil are yet again under threat from President Bolsonaro who continues to express his desire to take their land for farming and mining. Commercial farmers and mining prospectors believe the sprawling indigenous land is rich in minerals such as gold, diamonds, copper, molybdenum, bauxite and even niobium, a metal used to strengthen steel.

Malawi Remains Secure: Following Cyclone Idai, floods hit Malawi with devastating impact, particularly for maize. With agriculture being the backbone of the country’s economy and vital for the livelihoods of most Malawians, many worried a food shortage was in the near future. Despite these worries, Malawi is still food secure, with a projection that they will have a surplus of maize.

But Mozambique Now Battles Hunger:  After the catastrophic flooding, hunger could be Mozambique’s third disaster following cyclone Idai and increases in cholera. More than 1.7 million acres of crop fields were destroyed by Cyclone Idai before the farmers planned to bring in the harvest. Many are now relying on aid groups to bring needed food supplies.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkyvw/557772/226010/insights_icon.pngCOUNCIL INSIGHTS

Featured Commentary: We Must Invest in Global Nutrition and End the Need for Foreign Aid

Agri-Pulse and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs are teaming up to host a monthly column to explore how the US agriculture and food sector can maintain its competitive edge and advance food security in an increasingly integrated and dynamic world.

This month, William Moore of the Eleanor Crook Foundation writes that nutrition investments are vital to US economic interests and the global economy and have the power to move countries to stability, prosperity, and independence.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkywr/557772/226026/grow_Icon.pngFOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES

 Hog Disease Hop: China, containing the world’s largest hog herd, has confirmed yet another African swine fever outbreak in its XinJiang region. It has been reported that Cambodia and Tibet have reported their first outbreaks of the disease. Despite the Chinese agricultural ministries recent efforts to eradicate the disease, it has continued to spread.

Floods in Iran: The worst flooding in 70 years has ravaged Iran, requiring evacuations and resulting in a large death toll. The early estimates put flood losses in agriculture sector at $350 million. The government has told citizens, and especially flood-affected farmers, that all losses will be compensated. Many have started to push for a natural disasters insurance fund to be implemented.
SEE ALSO: France to Send Aid to Flood-Hit Iran Regions

Zimbabwe Seeks Closure on Land Disputes: Land reform remains a divisive issue in Zimbabwe, nearly two decades after former president Robert Mugabe evicted 4,500 white farmers and redistributed the land to nearly 300,000 black families, in an effort to address colonial imbalances. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is now seeking to pay compensation to the white farmers that were removed, and set aside $17.5 million in this year’s budget.

https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/news_icon.pngDEEPER DIVE

Cyclone Idai: Rains began in early March as Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. The storm is the strongest cyclone on record for the Southern Hemisphere. Cyclone Idai was fed by unusually warm water temperatures—typically storms that form in the channel between Mozambique and Madagascar, as Idai did, are not as strong as those that begin in the north. The UN estimates that the storm and subsequent flooding caused more than $1 billion in infrastructure damage.

https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/chart_icon.pngDATA CRUNCH

World Health Stats: For the first time, the WHO’s annual World Health Statistics report has disaggregated data by sex, a crucial move to better understand who is being left behind in global health. The data is further broken down by age and income group as well. The report finds that there is an 18.1-year gap in life expectancy between the poorest and wealthiest countries, and that men are less likely than women to seek healthcare when faced with the same disease. Between 2000 and 2016, the global life-expectancy increased by 5.5 years, from 66.5 to 72 years.


Rethinking Water: It is estimated that almost a billion people lack access to clean water, with this number expected to increase in the coming decades. Previously, desalination technology has been largely dismissed because of how energy-intensive the process is and the cost. David Binns of early-stage innovation company Epicuro believes that advances in renewable energy technology could make small-scale desalination benefit developing countries.

Rise of Rice: The Green Super Rice project, led by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, has helped alleviate poverty for more than 1.6 million farming households in several Asian and African countries. The project has developed 78 rice varieties that produce outputs that are on average 20 percent higher per acre. The new varieties have also minimized the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation.

Market Trouble: An estimated 23 million people in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and South Sudan do not have enough to eat relying on food aid. Experts claim that the problem is not the lack of food rather, it is government intervention. Most of the countries have a food reserves from previous harvests, yet it can’t be sold due to disruptions in the East African market.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkzwh/557772/226054/big_ideas.pngBIG IDEAS

Opinion - Vertical Farming: Vertical farming could serve as a promising solution to many food production problems and also offers great sustainability benefits in reduced water usage and pest control. However, Erik Kobayashi-Solomon says that producers are still progressing on the learning curve of vertical farming and more research needs to be done. 
Impossible Burger: Located California, Impossible Foods seeks to reduce carbon footprint from livestock farming through developing a meat alternative, the Impossible Burger. Made without meat of any kind, the Impossible Burger is made with an ingredient from soybeans so it can have a beefy taste to satisfy growing consumer demand for meat. 
SEE ALSO: ‘Veggie Discs’ Could Replace Burgers Under European Food Labeling Proposal

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkzwt/557772/226058/dc_icon.pngDC REPORT

USAID Helped Guatemalan Farmers Endure Droughts: USAID funding through climate adaption programs have given Guatemalan farmers tools to plant new crops like tomatoes and chili peppers. Many of them stayed to live off their drought-prone lands even as others left for the United States. Under the current administration, aid for Central America has steadily decreased to $627 million in 2018 from $700 million in 2017. Moreover, any further reductions in US assistance could create an opportunity for China, especially as others in the region forge closer relations with Beijing.

https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/market_icon.pngTRADE & COMMODITIES

Chinese Purchase of US Farm Goods Increases: In a goodwill gesture, China has increased its purchases of US agricultural goods in the midst of trade deal talks. China had implemented a 25 percent tariff on US cotton this past summer, but industry experts claim that suppliers from Australia and Brazil cannot supply the high level of Chinese demand. Chinese negotiators are in Washington this week seeking to resolve the trade stand-off.

Industrial Enzymes and Biological Agriculture Business: Novozymes, the world’s largest producer of enzymes, produces microbes to protect plants from pests and speed growth. The Danish company announced plans to continue a current commercial partnership with Bayer while opening new partnerships with Univar Solutions and UPL.

https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/calendar_icon.pngUPCOMING EVENTS

FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade
Date: April 23-24
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
IFPRI Technical Discussion on the 2019 Global Report on Food Crises
Date: April 26
Location: Washington, DC
Innovation Forum: the Future of Food
Date: May 22-23
Location: Chicago, IL
Global Launch of the UN Decade of Family Farming, 2019-2028
Date: May 27-29
Location: Rome, Italy

EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2019
Date: Jun 12-13
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
1st International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture & Food Systems in Africa
Date: June 18-21
Location: Nairobi, Kenya


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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.


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| By Roger Thurow

Our New Gordian Knot

Fifty years ago Dr. Norman Borlaug recieved the Nobel Peace Prize for cutting the "Goridan knot" of population and food production. Now the planet faces another seemingly intractable problem: how to nourish the planet while preserving the planet.