August 10, 2018

This Week's GFFT News: Ebola Vaccinations, "Bleeding" Veggie Burger, Soil-less Farming in India

Are We There Yet?
Broken Barriers or Broken Records

2018 Global Health and Development Symposium

September 18, 2018

Since the landmark Women’s March in 2017, seismic shifts have been underway, affecting everything from women’s political participation to their financial autonomy. Women can now drive in Saudi Arabia, US legislators can now bring newborns to the Senate floor, and companies in the United Kingdom are being mandated to address the gender wage gap. The eruption of movements like #MeToo has sent shockwaves across industries, setting new standards for accountability and regulation. But have we reached a tipping point? Can this watershed moment go beyond words to drive meaningful action?


Next Generation 2018- The Genetics of NutritionChicago Council on Global Affairs, August 7

Nutrition education alone will not make a difference in enabling everyone the equal opportunity to live comfortably with access to food. Ahmed Saddam, Chicago Council on Global Affairs Next Generation delegate, is researching genotyping for specific SNPs in genes to address the obesity epidemic. The findings will be crucial to identifying individuals at risk of obesity and providing targeted education about healthy eating habits.

Next Generation 2018- We Have to Listen to the FarmersChicago Council on Global Affairs, August 2

Chicago Council on Global Affairs Delegate Fally Masambuka explores how various communication media can be used not only for dissemination of improved technologies, but to empower the farmers to share with policy makers and scientists their true experiences with technologies and programs. He believes to achieve food security, we need to give small holder farmers the opportunity to express their opinions and advice.

Which Vision of Farming Is Better for the Planet?NPR, August 3

Growing as much food as possible in a small area – a practice called “land-sparing” – may be our best bet for sustainably feeding the world's population, according to new research. The study provides guidance on how more food can be grown while minimizing environmental harm.

SEE RESEARCH: Carbon Storage and Land-Use Strategies in Agricultural Landscapes across Three ContinentsCurrent Biology, July 26

Global Supply Chains Are Dangerously Easy to SnapOpinion, Elisabeth Braw, Foreign Policy, August 7

Countries depend on complex supply chains that stretch around the world and are vulnerable to disruptions. Global supply chains are a national security issue, and one that has been neglected by planners for too long. And exactly because an attack on global supply chains (not to mention natural disasters, or animal or plant disease) is more likely than a military attack, this is not an unlikely scenario.

Race to Contain Destructive March of Armyworm as Pest Spreads to India, Guardian, August 7

A crop-chomping caterpillar that has devastated food stocks across Africa has now arrived in southern India, and scientists warn the insect could spread throughout Asia to become a major threat to global food security.

The voracious fall armyworm, which has cost billions of dollars in crop losses, is best known for gnawing on maize but eats an additional 186 plant species, including sorghum and soy beans.


Protecting Livelihoods and Safeguarding Food Security in Conflict ContextsThomson Reuters Foundation, August 7

Since 2000, almost half of all civil conflicts around the world have taken place in Africa, where land issues have played a significant role in 90 percent of the interstate conflicts. Of the 815 million chronically food-insecure and malnourished people in the world, the vast majority live in countries affected by conflict.

Cuba Sweetens Land Grant Program for FarmersReuters, August 7

Cuba said it was doubling the amount of land it granted would-be farmers and the lengths of their leases in an effort to increase stagnating agricultural output. Despite the leasing of small parcels of land to some 200,000 would-be-farmers over the last decade, huge swaths remain fallow.

China to Grant 2.35 Million USD for Gaza Food ProgramXinhua, August 7

China signed an agreement with the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) to provide $2.35 million in support to the Gaza food program for 2018. The UNRWA called the agreement a generous support from the Chinese government amid the agency's funding shortfall after the US cut its aid by more than half.

SEE ALSO: Huge Increase in Chinese Aid Pledged to Pacific, Guardian, August 8

Argentina’s Farmers Flex Their Muscles as Macri Feels IMF PressureFinancial Times, August 6

Argentinian President Mauricio Macri has made gradually reducing taxes on soybean exports one of his flagship policies. Proposals, backed by the IMF, to stall this plan have been successfully resisted by Argentina’s formidable farming lobby. However, his government must push on with a fiscal austerity drive as part of the deal that secured a $50 billion emergency loan from the IMF earlier this year.

SEE ALSO: After a Populist Goring, Argentina’s Beef Ranchers are RecoveringEconomist, August 2

African Development Bank Offers New Financing Opportunities for Zambia's Water and Agriculture SectorsAllAfrica, August 6

An African Development Bank team of experts visited Zambia to identify businesses in the nation's water and agriculture sectors eligible for new financing mechanisms it is offering to the southern African nation. The Bank will support Zambia to reform its agricultural trade policies that allow for private sector participation in export of agricultural commodities.


USDA Proclaims National WIC Breastfeeding WeekWayne County News, August 8

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue proclaimed August 1-7 as National WIC Breastfeeding Week. Each year, National WIC Breastfeeding Week is held in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week during the first week of August to promote and support breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for a baby's first year of life.

Trump’s Hopes for EU Trade Deal Hampered by AgricultureFinancial Times, August 3

Though the US administration has claimed a trade truce with the EU as a victory, the EU’s insistence on taking any discussion of agriculture off the table because of opposition from France has alienated a powerful US farm sector already feeling aggrieved over the damage caused by trade wars. Farmers fear the truce won’t make up for a lack of trade relations with China, as the EU only ranks fifth among US export markets for agriculture.

SEE ALSO: Despite Tariffs, US Soy Is Still Headed to China. Here's Why, Bloomberg, August 7

US Proposes Guidelines to Ensure Aid Reaches N KoreaAP, August 3

The US is trying to ensure that humanitarian aid doesn't face unnecessary obstacles in getting to North Korea, where the UN says around 10 million people need food and other aid and about 20 percent of children are stunted because of malnutrition. New guidelines proposed by the US will be sent to all 193 UN member states after approval.


This Climate Change Hack Would Reflect More Sunlight. Not Such a Bright Idea, Study Says.Washington Post, August 8
Some engineers say injecting reflective particles into the atmosphere could be used to counteract global warming by changing the reflectivity of the planet. But it may not be as advantageous as previously thought.  Food crops wouldn't suffer as much heat stress as they would without the intervention in the atmosphere, but they also wouldn't receive as much photosynthesis-powering sunlight.

SEE REPORT: Estimating Global Agricultural Effects of Geoengineering Using Volcanic Eruptions, Nature, August 8

SEE ALSO: How Engineering the Climate Could Mess with Our FoodWired, August 8

SEE ALSO: A Disappointing New Problem with Geo-Engineering, Atlantic, August 8

Stanford Seed Startup Future Farms Is out to Solve India’s Food Crisis with Clean, Soil-Less FarmingYourstory, August 8

Chennai-based Future Farms was one of the first ag-startups in India to utilize hydroponics and set up rooftop farms. Future Farms now grows 16 crop varieties across 15 acres of land spread over 10 states. Founder-CEO Sriram attributes much of Future Farms’ recent growth to the Stanford Seed Program, a year-long leadership program designed for high-potential Indian business leaders and startup founders to scale their ventures.

There's Never Been a Better Time to Be Part of the Global Agtech CommunityForbes, August 7

Agtech seed stage funding continues to trend upward. This means that more and more companies are receiving financing to focus on solving problems, scaling, and gaining a competitive edge. Some of these companies are going to pivot into the right niche and have transformative impact.

SEE REPORT: 2018 Earlystage Agtech ReportFinistere Ventures, June 14

Idaho Agribusiness Lands Gene Editing Licensing RightsAP, August 6

J.R. Simplot Company announced an agreement with DowDuPont Inc. and the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to acquire gene editing licensing rights. The nascent gene editing technology could one day be used to help farmers produce more crops and make grocery store offerings stay fresher longer. Simplot is the first agricultural company to receive such a license.

SEE ALSO: Genetics Technology Could Lead to More Crops, Fresher FoodAP, August 7

Science’s Search for a Super Banana, Guardian, August 5

Panama disease is on the march, wiping out banana plantations worldwide and raising fears that bananas are on the brink of extinction. Scientists have been racing to devise preventative measures against the disease before it reaches Central and South America, where 80 percent of exported bananas are grown. Quarantine measures and the sterile culturing of plantlets are two solutions that aim to curb the disease’s proliferation.


30 Traditional Crops to Celebrate Indigenous FarmingFood Tank, August 8

This International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is an opportunity to celebrate the ecological and cultural value of indigenous foodways. Celebrating their cultures means preserving their time-tested farming practices. The biodiversity maintained on indigenous peoples’ farms may be the key to building resilient food systems that can withstand changing weather patterns and meet nutritional and needs of communities.

NFU Issues Stark Warning UK Would Run out of Food without ImportsFinancial Times, August 7

The UK would run out of food in just seven months if it relied solely on homegrown produce, the National Farmers’ Union has warned. Self-sufficiency in food has “stagnated,” with government figures showing that Britain produced only 61 percent of its own food in 2017, a rate in long-term decline. With Brexit only months away, the NFU president called on the government to prioritize food security.

SEE ALSO: UK Could Run out of Food a Year from Now with No-Deal Brexit, NFU Warns, Guardian, August 6

Europe Deals a Blow to CRISPR Technology, US Approves 'Bleeding' Veggie BurgerNPR, August 4

The FDA granted GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status to the heme protein ingredient used in the Impossible Burger, an all-veggie burger that “bleeds” and sizzles just like meat. But two days later, Europe's highest court ruled that gene-edited crops should be subject to the same strict regulations as genetically modified organisms. It was a major setback for advocates of genetically engineered crops.

SEE ALSO: The Best Burger You'll Ever Have Is Made From Plants, Forbes, August 8

A Blanket Carbon Tax Could Heighten Food InsecurityAnthropocene, August 3

Some mitigation measures that are designed to reduce the emissions impact of climate change will actually have an even larger impact on food security, putting 45 million more people at risk of hunger. A carbon tax on agricultural emissions would increase the price of food and would make farming more expensive by increasing the cost of land.

SEE REPORT: Risk of Increased Food Insecurity under Stringent Global Climate Change Mitigation PolicyNature Climate Change, July 30


Congo Health Ministry Preps for Possible Ebola VaccinationsAP, August 6

Congo's health ministry is preparing to begin Ebola vaccinations in the eastern city of Beni and neighboring Mangina village. Congo announced the latest outbreak on August 1with four confirmed cases, a week after declaring the end to a previous outbreak in the northwest with 33 deaths. It is not clear whether the new outbreak, more than 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) away, is related.

Nigerian Food Sector Commits to Nutrient FortificationFinancial Times, August 5

Several Nigerian businesses have pledged to add nutrients to food staples such as salt, flour, and sugar in what scientists say is a cost-effective way to improve health, especially of children. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is donating $5 million over four years to implement a rigorous testing regime to make sure standards are being met.

Almond Breeze Milk Is Being Recalled for Containing Actual MilkQuartz, August 4

Almond-milk seller HP Hood LLC is recalling roughly 150,000 half-gallon cartons of refrigerated Vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk because the product may contain dairy milk. Affected cartons were shipped to retailers in 28 US states. The concern is that the dairy-tainted almond milk could be dangerous to anyone with a dairy allergy.

Climate Change Is a Public Health ProblemFinancial Times, August 3

Deaths from severe heatwaves will increase dramatically over the next few decades with an additional 1.5 million people dying each year from climate change, if emissions trends continue—even after efforts to mitigate their impact. Climate change is increasingly seen as a public health problem rather than a pure environmental concern, creating not just a warming planet, but greater risks of anything from air pollution to infectious diseases.


When Life Gives You Lemons - Sicily's Farmers Go Tropical as Climate WarmsThomson Reuters Foundation, August 7

Average temperatures in Sicily have risen about 1.5 degrees Celsius and there is a new generation of Sicilian farmers producing exotic fruits. Demand has also grown as consumers have become more aware of the health benefits of eating fresh, locally grown papayas and other tropical fare. The trend is also driven by competition from cheap imports of more traditional crops that has forced farmers to diversify.

Asia Plastic Is Choking the World’s OceansFinancial Times, August 5

Nowhere is there a need for environmental action greater than in Asia, the source of more than 80 percent of the plastic that ends up in the world’s oceans. In most of the region, efforts to tackle the pollution are inadequate or nonexistent. Plastic waste often goes into municipal landfills and dumps that are unprotected from heavy rains, mudslides and flooding. A significant portion later washes out to sea from rivers.

Water Crisis Salts the Earth in Iraq’s Long-Neglected SouthAP, August 2

Upstream dams in Turkey, Syria, and Iran have shrunk rivers and their tributaries, seasonal rainfall has dropped, and infrastructure has fallen into disrepair. The result is an acute lack of freshwater that has allowed a salty tide from the Persian Gulf to advance north and seep into once-lush farmland in southern Iraq. The water woes, along with a lingering electricity crisis, contributed to last month’s violent demonstrations.


This Kenyan Female Founder Wants to Radically Change the Coffee IndustryForbes, August 8

Vava Angwenyi started Vava Coffee, a Nairobi-based enterprise focused on educating Kenyan farmers, getting more women into the coffee industry, and engaging the youth of East Africa to get them excited about one of their most prized agricultural products. On average, smallholder coffee farmers in Kenya earn less than 35 percent of the international market value on their high-quality specialty coffees.

A Violet Chair to Give Indigenous Women a Seat at the TableFAO, August 8

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva has urged countries to unite behind a campaign to promote indigenous women’s rights and encourage their participation in policy discussions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger. To make them visible, a violet chair is placed at a meeting to highlight that an indigenous woman is participating, or, all too often, when the chair is empty, that she is not.

The Horticulture Industry’s Age Problem Is Bigger Than You ThinkWashington Post, August 5

Nearly 58,000 jobs become available each year in agriculture-related fields, but only 61 percent are filled by qualified graduates. Compounding the problem nationally has been turmoil and loss of horticulture programs in land grant colleges and universities in response to declining enrollment. Fewer than one-third of 54 schools surveyed in 2015 still had separate departments of horticulture.

Hoe Spain’s Traditional Grazing Methods Prevent Wildfires, Al Jazeera, August 4

In southwest Spain, allowing sheep and goats to roam extensively while grazing creates natural firebreaks in the landscape. However, herding the animals is a tough job and is becoming less popular; fewer young people are becoming shepherds. As a result, the number of fires is on the rise just as Spain is expected to surpass its record-high temperature of 47.3 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit).


Healthy Nutrition Trends Shake up Chinese Consumer MarketFinancial Times, August 7

Chinese MSG sales peaked in 2013 at 1.2 million tons and have declined steadily since. More than half of urban Chinese consumers have tried to limit MSG in their diet. Efforts by Chinese urban consumers to lead healthier lives are the “biggest theme” in the country’s FMCG market, which includes food and beverages, toiletries, over-the-counter medicines, and other perishable personal care items.

Tyson Beefs Up Profit While Trade Worries LoomFinancial Times, August 6

A muscular performance from its beef division helped Tyson Foods top Wall Street’s expectations for quarterly profit, but the US meat giant behind such brands as Ball Park hot dogs and Jimmy Dean sausages continued to flag potential fallout from the Trump administration’s trade disputes—as well as the fast-food burger wars.

SEE ALSO: Record Beef, Pork, Chicken Production Cuts into Profits at US Meat CompaniesWall Street Journal, August 6

Indra Nooyi to Step down as PepsiCo Chief after 12 Years at HelmFinancial Times, August 6

Indra Nooyi is to step down from PepsiCo after a 12-year tenure, the latest in a series of management changes in a global food and drinks industry grappling with rapidly shifting consumer tastes. Nooyi has consistently ranked among the most powerful women in the world and enjoyed a rock star status in her home country of India. The nation’s burgeoning youth population has looked up to her as an inspirational figure.

Global Heat Wave Toasts Wheat and Prices SoarWall Street Journal, August 4

Global wheat prices have soared to multiyear highs as a heat wave sweeping across Europe and Asia slashes forecasts for this year’s harvest. Hot temperatures and drought typically stunt the growth of cereals and reduce their quality. The price rise could potentially provide some relief to North American farmers, who have largely avoided such scorching weather, just as Chinese tariffs sap demand for other crops like soybeans.


International Agricultural and Food Exhibition Farmer Expo

Date: August 17-20

Location: Debrecen, Hungary

African Green Revolution Forum

Date: September 5-8

Location: Kigali, Rwanda

The International Civil Society Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals

Date: September 11-13

Location: Yaoundé, Cameroon

2018 SCRA Nuts and Bolts Workshop

Date: October 3-5

Location: Riverdale, Maryland

2018 World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue

Date: October 17-19

Location, Des Moines, Iowa

International Phytobiomes Conference 2018

Date: December 4-6

Location: Montpellier, France

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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. 

| By Janet Fierro

Guest Commentary - Rural Niger Women find Opportunity and Hope through Innovative Business Model

When researchers set out to find natural ways to manage a crop-destroying pest in sub-Saharan Africa cowpea fields they knew the results could have significant positive impact on smallholder farmers. What they may not have expected was the significance of the cottage industry it inspired and the entrepreneurial spirit of the rural women of Niger who led it.