July 31, 2020 | By Julia Whiting

Global Food for Thought: Wasting | Solar Irrigation | Crispr Calf

If you would like to have the Global Food for Thought news brief delivered to your inbox, please sign up here.


A Call to Action for Children’s Right to Nutrition

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 47 million children under 5 were acutely or severely wasted. National lockdowns and other responses to the pandemic have disrupted food supply chains and programs that support childhood nutrition. New analysis in the Lancet project that there could be additional 6.7 million children with wasting by the end of 2020, putting more children at an increased risk of mortality from infectious diseases.   

An accompanying piece from the UN calls for five urgent actions to be taken to protect children’s right to nutrition: protect and promote access to safe and nutritious diets, invest in maternal and child nutrition in the first 1000 days of life, invest in early detection of child wasting, maintain school meals for vulnerable children, and expand social protections to safeguard nutrition.

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


A bee sits on a flower budding from an almond tree, which rely on natural pollinators for fertilization. (REUTERS/ Amir Cohen)


Lost Opportunities: Childhood malnutrition affects us all—a core message of Roger Thurow’s  new digital interactive following the lives of families around the world as they work to nourish and nurture their children. Join Thurow Thursday, August 6 in a webinar with IFPRI’s Purnima Menon and Dr. Meseret Zelalem, for Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition at Ethiopia’s Federal Ministry of Health for a discussion of the consequences of recent analyses in the Lancet, as well as the launch of Thurow's new interactive.

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


LIVE STREAM: Twitter, Tear Gas, and the New Global Protest Movements
Date: August 5
Time: 10 a.m. CDT

COVID-19 Latest Predictions on Malnutrition: Virtual Dialogue
Date: August 6
Time: 9:30 am EST

VIRTUAL: President's Club Conversation on US-Colombia Economic Relations
Date: August 11
Time: 12:00 pm CDT

Did you miss one of our previous livestreams? Don't worry! They are all available on our website to watch at any time. 


Solar Powered Growth: For indigenous communities in Eastern India, solar-powered irrigation pumps have helped farmers adapt to increasingly variable rainfall. Farmers have saved water and boosted crop yields using the pumps and drip irrigation, prompting the Indian government’s initiative to install 22 million solar pumps by 2022.  

See also: Planting up due to robust monsoon rain

Hunger in Zimbabwe: Drought, economic recession, and the pandemic will push 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s population into food insecurity by December, the WFP warns. Inflation is above 700 percent, and many are struggling to meet their basic needs. The UN has issued an appeal for $250 million to provide emergency assistance to Zimbabwe.

Bees Causing Key Crop Shortages: A new study has helped confirm fears that declines in pollinators may have serious ramifications for global food security. According to the FAO, the amount of crop production dependent upon insect and other pollinators has increased 300 percent over the past 50 years. Pollination shortfalls could cause certain fruit and vegetables to become rarer and more expensive.

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

More than Just Bees: Between 75-95 percent of all earth’s flowering plants need pollinators. Although bees are the most popular pollinators, many species are responsible for plant growth. Over 100,000 invertebrates and 4,000 mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians also help pollinate plants. That includes butterflies, ants, and even lemurs and honey possums.

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

Welcome, Cosmo: Researchers at the University of California Davis are celebrating the successful birth of a calf whose DNA has been edited using CRISPR. The calf—Cosmo—is the result of a multi-year project to increase the odds of an all-male cattle herd. Male cows gain weight more efficiently than females, and more males in a herd could allow ranchers to produce more meat with fewer animals. While the full results can’t be known until the next generation, this is a step forward for the field.    


Sudan Facing Food Shortages: The UN is warning that coronavirus restrictions are preventing the most vulnerable in Sudan from accessing food. There is currently widespread food insecurity due to conflict and economic decline. However, the UN is also warning that it is unable to reach some of the most vulnerable because of Covid-19 restrictions and instability. Staff at the UN are finding it difficult to attain visas or permission from the government to travel inside the country.


Gut Microbes Key to Growth: Many children who experience long-term malnutrition often struggle to grow even after they are provided with essential foods. In a recent study, scientists may have discovered why that is: the bacteria that reside within the small intestine, where most nutrients are absorbed. Treatment that targets these microbes could help physicians rebuild the health of malnourished children.


Coronavirus Relief for US Agriculture: The upcoming economic rescue package remains the number 1 issue in agriculture policy, dwarfing other important ag items, such as the fiscal 2021 agriculture spending bill. The current lack of consensus amongst Republicans and the White House on how to address polemic issues means that tens of billions of dollars in extra farm and food aid are currently bogged down in the broader disputes and will become increasingly more complex as negotiations with Democrats commence.

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

Challenges Grow for China: Floods, pestilence and inventory problems are all challenging China, making food security a top priority for its leadership. Flooding has threatened many of China’s essential crops such as rice and wheat. In addition, insects have damaged corn crops at a time where there is rising demand for food in the country. China has responded to these challenges by importing record numbers of pork, soybeans, soymeal, wheat, corn, and frozen foods.

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

Syngenta Launches App: Syngenta launched the TIWALA app for Filipino farmers, the first ever to compile product information, an agronomy program, and farmer support to identify disease and pest in the fields.

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

Virtual Event - COVID-19 & Global Food Security 
Date: August 4  
Time: 9:30 am EST  

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.