May 17, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Mother's Diet | Livestock Insurance | Processed Foods

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

More than Salt, Sugar, Fat – Highly Processed Foods Drive Obesity
New research has concluded that ultra-processed food items in particular drive consumers to gain weight compared to foods that are minimally processed. Study participants could eat as much or as little as they wanted of the meals offered but ended up eating almost 580 more calories of the highly processed food—even though they didn’t rate the processed food as more delicious than the unprocessed items. As processed food becomes increasingly common across the globe, the health implications of these items will become highly impactful. OF THE WEEK

A woman milks a camel whose milk she sells by a roadside in Karachi, Pakistan. Camel milk sells for around Pakistani Rupees 400 (US$3.92) per liter. (REUTERS/Athar Hussain)​​​​​​ ACTORS 

Cuba Plans to Ration Sales of Basic Food Items: Tighter US sanctions and economic downturn of key ally Venezuela further deteriorate the food shortage in Cuba. The country’s agriculture sector has long been inefficient. Officials said that the government would ration sales of basic goods, including eggs, cooking oils, and chicken.

How the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy Can Deliver More Sustainable Food: The Europe’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), comprising more than a third of the European Union’s overall budge, is being revised to help the EU's food supply become more sustainable. The new proposals include ways to reduce emissions from agriculture and improve people’s diets while helping farmers stay in business.

SEE ALSO: EU Commissioner Says Agriculture Not on Agenda for US Talks

Kenya’s Radical Proposals to Save Kenya's Ailing Agriculture: Food insecurity and depressed economic growth caused by dry weather across the region puts further pressure on Kenya to revive its agriculture sector. A series of proposals was laid out by the government, including a possible shift to GMO crops and the establishment of 50 new large-scale farms. INSIGHTS

June 13 Event: Water and Sustainability – The Conversation Continues in Chicago
By 2050, over half of the world’s population could be at risk due to stress on water resources. How will we grow an adequate quantity—and quality—of food to feed and nourish a rapidly growing, urbanizing world in the face of increasing water insecurity? The release of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ new report From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future highlighted the critical nature of this issue, the obstacles to be resolved, and the innovative solutions that will help us achieve water- and food-security.

Register today to hear from some of these thought leaders and innovators in this rapid-fire flashtalk series program! AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES

Building Confidence in Livestock Insurance: Kenya Livestock Insurance Program makes preemptive payouts based on satellite imagery used to measure how rangeland vegetation has been affected by drought, instead of when livestock dies. When areas get dry enough, herders are compensated with cash they can use to keep their herds alive with additional feed or medicine. As a result, herders have become less reliant on food relief. However, out of Kenya’s 6 million herders—which contribute to 40 percent of the nation’s GDP—only a fraction are insured.

Vietnam to Mobilize Military in Fight Against African Swine Fever: African Swine Fever now has already resulted in the culling more than 1.2 million of the Vietnam’s pigs. The Vietnam government has decided to mobilize its military and police forces to prevent the outbreak spreading further.

Solar-Powered WaterBit System Irrigates Farms, Saves H2O: Developed by a company in California, Waterbit is an autonomous irrigation system for farmers. While similar to a hose and sprinkler system, Waterbit also uses sensors and cloud-connected devices that enable the farmers to use their phones or computers to control the precise irrigation of their crops. DIVE

Radio Herders: Asma Mohamed uses her show on a non-profit community radio channel in northern Kenya to discuss topics as wide ranging as good governance, livestock breeding, and children's rights. For more than a half a million herders, her program also shares vital information about animal insurance. Difficult terrain and a lack of internet or phone connection can impede insurance agents' reach in rural zones. Radio offers a way to bring vital information to rural communities. CRUNCH

Mother’s Diets Impact Children’s Weight: In many countries, childhood obesity is an increasingly common issue. A new study from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health examined the role of a mother’s diet in infant growth and found that babies that rapidly increased in weight during the first six months of life were two to three times more likely to become obese as adolescents. The study surveyed 354 exclusively breastfeeding mothers and measured their babies at one, three, and six months of age.

Soil Erosion, Climate Change Threatens Food Security: Soil erosion has accelerated due intensive agriculture, deforestation, mineral extraction, and urbanization. The planet is on course to degrade 90 percent of all the Earth’s soils by 2050 and as erosion degrades soil it becomes less able to endure climate stresses such as longer droughts. However, land ownership is central to whether farmers will take on long-term investments in conversation. IDEAS

Camel Milk – A Drought Resistant Superfood: Camel milk can help address malnutrition, diabetes, and other medical concerns—compared to regular cattle dairy, camel milk contains three times the amount of Vitamin C and the animals can go a month without water.  As the number of people in need of food aid in Kenya has risen by 70 percent, largely due to poor rains, camel milk has become a drought-safe investment.

Israeli Startup Aleph Farms Raises $11.65 Million To Create 3D Steaks: The Israeli startup food-tech company Aleph Farms has achieved a key step in the lab-grown-meat industry by producing the world’s first slaughter-free steaks from cow-cells. The company’s technology isolates the cells responsible for regenerating and building muscle tissues and grows them outside of the animal. REPORT

$15-20 Billion Farmer Aid Package: The USDA is expected to mirror its 2018 pledge of $12 billion in aid to American farmers, which has already paid out around $9.4 billion. Demand for soybeans—a principal source of feed—has further fallen with African swine fever in China and nearby countries, which has prompted millions of hogs to be culled.  Both trade disputes and swine fever have pushed soybean prices to the lowest since 2008, at $8 a bushel.

SEE ALSO: Frustration Mounts Among Farmers as China Trade Talks Break Down & COMMODITIES

US Prepares Tariffs on $300 Billion Of Imported Chinese Goods: The US-China trade war continues to escalate, with the Trump administration targeting $300 billion worth of Chinese imports for up to 25 percent tariff hikes. The US Trade Representative published a list of Chinese goods that would be hit with new duties, with several pages dedicated to agricultural products, from livestock to dairy, vegetables, and staples such as rice and tea.

Rice and Beans: Top agriculture officials from Mexico and Brazil have agreed to open up trade of rice and beans between the countries. Rice and beans are a central component to the cuisines of both countries. EVENTS

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
Water and Sustainability – The Conversation Continues in Chicago
Date: June 13
Location: Chicago, IL
1st International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture & Food Systems in Africa
Date: June 18-21
Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Please share any tips or thoughts on what we can do better here.


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


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