July 19, 2019

Global Food for Thought: State of Food Security | Palm Oil | Lionfish

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

Transforming Agriculture

A new report warns that agriculture systems require sweeping changes to accommodate a projected 50 percent increase in global food demand by 2050. The report recommends 30 percent more food production on existing land and a two thirds reduction in food-related carbon emissions. Reducing the consumption of resource-intensive meat products, particularly in North America, Latin America, and Europe—the world’s highest-consuming regions —is crucial to meeting these goals.

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

Lionfish are cooked after a dive near Larnaca, Cypruss. (Reuters/Yiannis Kourtoglou)

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

The State of Food Security: For the first time, the United Nation’s annual food security and nutrition report includes ‘moderate food insecurity,’ which can cause obesity and stunting. Although global hunger has been on the rise, so has obesity, and it now affects more people than hunger: in 2016 there were 822 million obese people to 796.5 million hungry people. The report calls on governments to consider food distribution and access in addition to production, and to address the root causes of malnourishment. 

Can The French Afford Their Own Food?: A report by France’s National Institute of Agronomic Research found that for the first time ever, France is buying more food from its European neighbors than it is selling to them. France is very protective of its agricultural sector and does not want to change its agricultural system towards mass production, making its food increasingly expensive.

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

What is the Global Fragility Act: The first post in our new blog series, Policies for a Nutritious Future, explains the Global Fragility Act and why it matters for global food security. Fragile states, countries unable to absorb risk due to insufficient coping strategies, are some of the most in danger for food security. Recent years have shown how lack of food or volatile food prices can cause political turmoil. The Global Fragility Act focuses US strategy on mitigation, prevention, and response, to alleviate crises before they erupt into conflict.

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

Keeping the Farm in the Family: The United Nations launched the Decade of Family Farming, a new initiative to support family farmers across the world. Over 90 percent of all farms are family owned. A multi-donor trust fund has been established between FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development to promote dialogue and exchange between farmers. 

Pollinators Affect Food Security: Recent research has found that dwindling crop diversity harms pollinating insect populations. The abundance of monocrops that require pollination – such as soybeans and palm oil – limit opportunities for insects to find nutrients. The resulting decline in pollination capacity will exacerbate food insecurity, particularly in regions where monocrops have replaced many of the ecosystems that support insect populations.   

Heat Wave: In Nigeria, extreme heat has been disproportionately affecting smallholder poultry farmers, who typically lack the technology to help their animals cope with the high temperatures. Some estimates put poultry mortality at a minimum rate of 15 percent. Almost half of Nigeria’s population live in poverty, and most rely on agriculture for income. As such, declining yields raise the specter of dire poverty and food insecurity in the country.

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

What is a lionfish? Normally native to the Indo-Pacific, lionfish are covered in eye-catching, colorful stripes. Lionfish have no known predators, in part thanks to their venomous dorsal fins. One sting can last for days, and causes extreme pain and in severe cases, paralysis. The species is now a top predator many coral reef environments due to rapid reproduction rates and active hunting.

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

Opinion – Climate-Smart Adaptation: The effects of climate change have begun decreasing global crop yields and placing pressure on traditional farming methods. As a result, farmers must prepare for a global agricultural transformation. Several technological innovations, such as vertical farming, “smart tractors,” and land-sharing, can help transform food systems from the subsistence to the commercial levels.


Lionfish Plague: Populations of lionfish have exploded in the Mediterranean. Lionfish are invasive to the region and Mediterranean fishermen have suffered as lionfish populations eliminate sea bass, their primary catch. Local NGOs and the European Union are campaigning to encourage the consumption of lionfish to help reduce their numbers.

Small Island Developing States, Obesity, and Hunger: Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are experiencing very high rates of both obesity and undernourishment. The rate of adult obesity in SIDS is nearly sixty percent higher, and that of undernourishment almost seven percent higher, than the global average. Climate change is negatively impacting SIDS sources of local food, forcing them to rely on processed, imported foods. 

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

Dairy without the Cow: The startup Perfect Day is working to become the first company to market a non-animal whey protein. Lab results have shown that their process requires 98 percent less water and 65 percent less energy than regular whey production, but government regulation and customer acceptance remain concerns.

Ugly Produce is In: While quality and labeling standards prevent imperfect produce from reaching shoppers, France may have a model for reducing waste and food costs. A French supermarket brand launched a global campaign advocating for the consumption of irregular looking produce. The company will sell this produce at 30 percent less than normal looking vegetables and fruit.

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

USDA Shake Up: The Department of Agriculture reports that 145 researchers, only 37 percent of two USDA research agencies, will transfer to Kansas City. US Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Purdue, announced the agencies’ relocation last month, citing saved money and proximity to stakeholders. Union groups protested the move, and reports from the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association say the cost of the move to taxpayers would be between $83-$182 million.

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

Palm Oil Tensions: Malaysia—the world’s second largest producer of palm oil—will file a complaint with the WTO challenging the European Union’s decision to phase out palm-based transportation fuels. Earlier this year, the European Commission concluded that palm oil cultivation leads to excessive deforestation. However, Malaysia relies on palm oil exports for billions of dollars in foreign exchange and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

US-India Mango Trade: Progress on a potential trade package between India and the United States was recently derailed. A trade deal would have made Indian mangoes more competitive in the United States. The US is the world’s largest importer of mangoes, but sources them primarily from Latin America. Boosting India’s agricultural exports is part of a plan to combat poverty in rural areas, where farming is an important source of income.

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

AgTech Nexus 2019
Date: July 22-23
Location: Chicago, IL

World Congress on Advancing Nutritional and Food Sciences
Date: July 23-24
Location: Rome, Italy
Aid & International Development Forum Global Summit
Date: September 4
Location: Washington, DC
Feeding the Future
Date: September 26
Location: London, England

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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.


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.