June 7, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Sen. Cochran | Fall Armyworm | Water Resilience

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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

A Champion of Food Security

The Council's Global Food and Agriculture Program is saddened by the passing of former-Senator Thad Cochran, a champion of domestic and international agriculture. Senator Cochran died on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at the age of 81.
Senator Cochran represented Mississippi from 1978 to 2018, a service of 40 years. He served as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee from 2003 until 2005 and Ranking Member of the Committee from 2013 to 2015. He was also Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee twice.
View the Chicago Council’s full statement.

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

A grey mullet fish is shown next to microplastic found in the surrounding waters. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip) ​​​​​

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

Opinion – Watch Crops Wither, or Migrate: For many Guatemalans, drought and severe weather are destroying their ability to farm, leaving families with few options but to leave. Climate change and related weather shifts are magnifying existing poverty structures and even though the journey to the United States is extremely dangerous, many see few alternatives.
Stinking Riches: China’s General Administration of Customs has approved imports of frozen whole durian—a thorny, extremely fragrant fruit—from Malaysia. China’s skyrocketing appetite for the fruit provides huge economic opportunity for Malaysian farmers who are boosting production for durian. Increased production of durian has however also raised environmental concerns about a loss of biodiversity.

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

REGISTER NOW: 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!

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

North Korea Confirms African Swine Fever Outbreak: After ravaging farms in China, African swine fever has now reached North Korea. Scrambling to prevent the spread of the disease on its pig industry, South Korea has called for joint efforts with North Korea to fight its spread, but with limited success.
SEE ALSO: The Deadly African Virus that’s Killing Asia’s Pigs
Small, Destructive, and on the Move: The fall armyworm is a crop-devouring pest originally from the Americas that has now spread to Africa and Asia, leaving a path of destroyed crops in its wake. After only three years in Africa, the worm has caused more than $13.3 billion in crop losses. Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia are now bracing for impact as well.
SEE ALSO: China Finds Armyworms in 18 Provinces, Recommends Pesticides for Emergency Use

Microplastics in Food: Many people thought that microplastics in the ocean were concentrated on the surface level. But new research suggests that microplastic concentrations at mid- and deep-ocean levels are also concerning—and possibly more dense than even the well known Great Pacific garbage patch. These small pieces of trash are eaten by tiny sea creatures and as those are eaten by fish that humans consume, plastic moves up the food chain.  

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How Big of a Problem Are Microplastics in Food?: Microplastics—microscopic pieces of trash that have made their way into the oceans and inland waters of the world—cannot be digested by aquatic animals but are frequently consumed as creatures mistake them for food. The plastics also have the ability to absorb contaminants from the environment, which then concentrate in the animals. Microplastics have now been recorded in 12 out of 25of the most important species of fish for human consumption.

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

Chickens, Bird Flu, and Gene Editing:As scientists seek to stop the spread of avian flu among birds, a research teamhas successfully removed a genetic sequence in a CRISPR chicken experiment to prevent the bird flu virus from reproducing, according a recently published study. This opens opportunity for genetically engineered chickens that can’t be infected by bird flu.


A Third of Sudanese Households Face Food Security Concerns:  The recently published 2018 UN Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis reportaddresses a high level of food insecurity concern in Sudan. Despite the above-average harvest in the past year, high food prices resulted from local currency depreciation expose many families tofood insecurity and economic difficulties.
Water Management for Resilience: By some projections, over half of the world’s population will be at risk for water scarcity by 2050. At the same time, farmers must continually improve yields, which drives intensification of agricultural production around the world. That's why researchers, farmers, and policymakers are deploying a variety of “more crop per drop” solutions which run the gamut from low-tech, low-cost solar-powered irrigation pumps to more sophisticated data techniques.

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

Kelp, the New Kale: Kelp is a form of seaweed that grows in large forests underwater. For years, advocates have been claiming that kelp is the next food craze to be, but the growing industry requires a great deal more infrastructure before those returns materialize. Kelp has many nutritious benefits—it is high in vitamins C and K as well as iron and calcium—and has a small environmental footprint. But first, consumers need to be convinced.
A Huge Amount of Food is Wasted, and with It, Water: About 70 percent of the water humans use globally is consumed by agriculture, and a full third of the greenhouse gas emissions we produce come from food production. Despite these massive costs, one-third to one-half of the world’s food supply is simply lost or wasted every year. Thesolution to scarcity is not producing more, but seeking a tighter fit between what is produced and what is consumed.

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A Preview of a New Development Finance Era: USAID and OPIC have announced contributions to a fund for women’s empowerment. Officials have described the collaboration as a sign of things to come as the new US development finance institution launches in October. The initiative is also unique in that it is the first time that USAID has focused on blended finance at such a scale

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

Uganda Resumes Exporting Poultry to Kenya: After President Museveni’s visit to Kenya in March, the Kenyan government has agreed to lift the two-year ban on Uganda poultry products. In return, Uganda will immediately lift its ban on Kenyan beef exports, which wasimposed due to the mad cow disease.
You Won’t Believe Your Ears: Corn prices reach a four year high in China due to falling domestic production and tense trade relations. Since January, three-month corn future has rose 10 percent, a level not seen since 2015 directly before the government ended a price support program for corn farmers.

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

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


| 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.