August 3, 2018

This Week's GFFT News: The Effectiveness of 'Women Empowerment' Programs, Alaskan Cod Disappearing, New Drug Wiping Out Malaria

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?


Moves to Cut Emissions Could Cause More Hunger Than Climate Change: StudyReuters, July 31

Including agriculture in schemes such as a global carbon tax could put 78 million more people at risk of hunger by 2050 by pushing up the price of food, according to new research. That compares with an estimated 24 million from climate change alone. Globally, 815 million people are already going hungry, according to the FAO.

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

Next Generation 2018 - Integrating Smallholder Farmers into the Cassava Food Value Chain: A Strategic Tool for Rural Development in NigeriaChicago Council on Global Affairs, July 26

Examining the role cassava plays in the smallholder value chain, our 6th post in the 2018 Next Generation blog series is by Emmanuel Donkor, a PhD candidate in Food, Business, and Development at the University College Cork.

What Is a Genetically Modified Crop? A European Ruling Sows ConfusionNew York Times, July 27

The European Union’s top court has ruled that gene-edited crops developed with CRISPR technology are genetically modified organisms, and therefore must comply with the tough regulations that apply to plants made with genes from other species. Many scientists responded to the decision with dismay, predicting that countries in the developing world would follow Europe’s lead.

Next Generation 2018 - Technical and Vocational Training: A Prescription to Youth Unemployment, Food Insecurity, and Low Youth Participation in AgricultureChicago Council on Global Affairs, July 31

Exploring the relationship between food security and youth employment opportunities, the seventh post in the 2018 Next Generation blog series is by Jones Janjira, a master’s candidate in rural development and extension at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Aid Sector ‘Sluggish and Delusional’ in Responding to Sexual Abuse, MPs Find, Devex, July 31

UK lawmakers have slammed aide leaders for a collective failure of leadership and self-delusion when it comes to tackling sexual exploitation and abuse in the sector. The inquiry looked both at alleged abuse of beneficiaries by aid workers and UN peacekeeping troops and at abuse and harassment of aid workers themselves by fellow staff.

SEE REPORT: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Aide SectorInternational Development Committee, July 31

Pakistan Set to Seek Up to $12 Billion IMF Bailout, Financial Times, July 29

Pakistan is drawing up plans to seek its largest ever bailout from the IMF. Officials believe is necessary to resolve the country’s escalating foreign reserves crisis but would see the fund impose restrictions on public spending including raising electricity tariffs, cutting subsidies for the agriculture sector, and selling lossmaking public companies.

Touring North Korean Farms and Factories, Kim Jong Un Signals a ShiftWall Street Journal, July 29

In an abrupt shift following months of visits to military-related sites, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made a series of publicized trips to remote factories and farms and other symbols of the daily welfare of his people. The visits appear to reflect his stated new focus on economic development, as sanctions weigh on his country and state control over economic activity erodes.

G20 Agriculture Ministers Slam Protectionism, Pledge WTO Reforms, New York Times, July 28

Agriculture ministers from the G20 countries criticized protectionism in a joint statement and vowed to reform World Trade Organization rules but did not detail what steps they would take to improve the food trade system. The ministers affirmed their commitment not to adopt unnecessary obstacles to trade, and affirmed their rights and obligations under WTO agreements.


Donald Trump Gets a Helping Hand from Brussels Bean Counters, Guardian, August 1

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, promised President Trump that American soybeans would be bought in greater numbers if he held off on hitting the German car industry with punitive tariffs. Soybean farmers in the Midwest, under pressure from the administration’s trade war with China, will begin harvesting in the fall.

Trump Advisers Urge Raising Additional China Tariffs to 25 PercentWall Street Journal, July 31

As Washington and Beijing struggle to break a trade impasse, some administration advisers are urging President Trump to raise the stakes with a sharp increase in the level of tariffs proposed for $200 billion in Chinese imports targeted for punitive measures. Some advisors are pushing the president to apply tariffs as high as 25 percent, up from an original proposal for 10 percent.

US Says Farmers Could Get Cash Aid by October but Will Not Be Made WholeReuters, July 28

US farmers could receive cash payments from a planned $12 billion aid package as soon as late September, but Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue warns that the program will not make tariff-hit farmers whole. US growers are expected to take an $11 billion hit due to retaliatory tariffs after Washington placed duties on Chinese goods.

SEE ALSO: Poll Indicates Some Support for Farm Subsidies, Politico, July 30

SEE ALSO: US Pledges $12 Billion Aide for Farmers Hit by Trade War, Financial Times, July 24

In a Foreign Aid Agency, Trump Loyalists Replace Development ExpertsChicago Tribune, July 28

Until recently, only the chief executive and several other top officials of the Millennium Challenge Corporation were selected by the White House. But starting last year, the White House began naming political appointees to lower-level positions. Development experts at the MCC were warned that they could lose their jobs to make way for the new political appointees.

FDA Gives Green Light to Impossible Foods' Bleeding BurgersForbes, July 27

After years of speculation, the FDA has finally given its stamp of approval on Impossible Foods' key ingredient, soy leghemoglobin. Impossible Foods had faced criticism from organizations who argued last year that the Impossible Burger should be removed from the market until the FDA had adequate proof that it was safe for consumption.


The Startup Making Shirts Out of Cow Poo, Guardian, August 1

Cow waste is a global environmental issue, and Dutch farmers are tackling the problem by transforming manure into materials. The project leaders believe that a non-vegan future will involve recycling cow manure into cellulose fiber, bioplastics, chemical concentrates, and pure water, in addition to being less squeamish about the concept.

Microsoft CTO: Edge Computing Can Make Industries ‘Massively More Efficient’, Wall Street Journal, July 30

Farmers usually have to perform manual inspections of hundreds or thousands of acres of crops to assess which areas of soil are underperforming. Some farmers, though, are now experimenting with a new architecture in which data is gathered from sensors in the field and then analyzed with machine-learning algorithms, offering real time information that saves hours or days of manual work.

Livestock Treatment May Offer Solution to Antibiotics Crisis, Say Scientists, Guardian, July 30

Using animals’ own immune systems may provide a way to reduce the overuse of antibiotics in farming, replacing the drugs with cheap farm byproducts and cutting the growing risk of resistance to common medicines. Naturally-produced antibodies could provide a protection against immediate infection, and help animals’ immune systems to be more resistant over time.

SEE REPORT: The Potential for Immunoglobulins and Host Defense Peptides (HDPS) to Reduce the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Production, Veterinary Research, July 31

Exciting New Partnership Creates a Blueprint for Sustainable MeatForbes, July 30

Mosa Meats, the company that produced the first cultured burger back in 2013, just raised 7.5 million euros to continue its pursuit of mass-producing this sustainable form of meat by the year 2021. Mosa’s investment round was co-led by M Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of science and technology company Merck, and Bell Food Group.


Have You Met this Cow? He’s Delicious., Wall Street Journal, July 31

Welcome to the final frontier in the discussion about transparency in food: meat. Fifty-eight percent of consumers say they are more concerned about the treatment of animals raised for food than they were a few years ago but food marketers say it’s more complicated and emotional to discuss the sourcing of animals than, say, turnips.

The Climate Impact of the Food in the Back of Your FridgeOpinion, Chad Frischmann, Washington Post, July 31

Reducing food waste is one of the most important things we can do to reverse global warming. It represents one of the greatest possibilities for individuals, companies, and communities to contribute to reversing global warming and at the same time feed more people, increase economic benefits, and preserve threatened ecosystems.

Insecticides Could Be Making Bees Less CuriousForbes, July 30

Neonicotinoid insecticides, which are the most widely used insecticides in the world, have been linked with declining populations of bees. Increasing evidence shows that neonicotinoids can accumulate in individual bees and negatively affect a suite of functions including memory, flight, and the ability to efficiently collect pollen. This, in turn, can be disastrous for the colony.

'This One Has Heat Stress': The Shocking Reality of Live Animal Exports, Guardian, July 30

The global demand for meat means more animals are moved around the world than ever before. Cows are often subjected to overcrowding, high levels of stress, injury, and abuse. Animal rights advocates insist the trade in live animals is unnecessary and that animals should be raised closer to where they are eaten or slaughtered and exported as frozen carcasses.


'Superfood' Craze Makes Big Business of Africa's Baobab, Thomson Reuters Foundation, August 1

The citrusy pulp found in the branches of the baobab tree has become a popular superfood in the United States and Europe. Unlike traditional crops, the baobab fruit is harvested from trees that can be hundreds of years old. Climate change is driving an unprecedented decline in the number of trees, and producers hope cultivation can begin sustainably.

Brazil: Many Alarmed Over Boost to Pesticide Use in AgricultureAl Jazeera, July 30

A Brazilian government commission has recommended easing restrictions on the use of pesticides to aid the country’s agricultural industry but families in rural areas say the pesticides already in use are contaminating air, food, and water, causing death and disease. Already, four of the 10 most commonly used pesticides in Brazil are banned in Europe.

UNICEF: 78 Million Newborns at Risk When Breastfeeding Is DelayedAl Jazeera, July 31

An estimated 78 million newborns have a higher risk of death each year from not drinking their mother's milk within the first hours of being born, according to the United Nations. A new report found that only two out of five babies are breastfed immediately after being born. In the report, UNICEF and WHO urge governments to adopt strong legal measures to restrict the marketing of infant formula.

SEE REPORT: Capture the Moment: Early Initiation of Breastfeeding: The Best Start for Every NewbornWHO & UNICEF, 2018

New Drug Wipes Out Malaria In A Single Dose—But There's One Hitch, NPR, July 26

The world now has a potent, new weapon against malaria—one that can wipe out the parasite from a person's body with a single dose. The new drug, tafenoquine, prevents malaria relapses by about 70 percent, and represents a major milestone in the fight to end malaria for good. The downside is that its administration requires a sophisticated test that is unavailable in many poor countries.


The Fungus that Fights Smog, Washington Post, August 1

India tops the world in poor air quality standards, and one of the main contributors to the toxic haze over Delhi is the burning of crop residue on the farmland that surrounds the city. Mushrooms can thrive on the leftover paddy straw from rice farms, which accounts for a quarter of India’s crop residue pollution. This process will produce jobs for rural women involved in mushroom cultivation, generate extra income for rice farmers, and reduce air pollution.

Adding up the Cost of Climate Change in Lost LivesWall Street Journal, August 1

An exhaustive new study focusing only on heat-related damage reaches a sobering conclusion: by the year 2099, 1.5 million more people will die each year around the world because of increased heat. By comparison, 1.25 million people died in 2013 in all traffic accidents world-wide.

SEE REPORT: Valuing the Global Mortality Consequences of Climate Change Accounting for Adaptation Costs and BenefitsBecker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, August 2018

Gulf of Alaska Cod Are Disappearing. Blame 'the Blob'NPR, July 31

Alaska fishermen have worried that climate change would threaten their livelihoods. Now it has. The cod population in the Gulf of Alaska is at its lowest level on record. The culprit is a warm water mass called "the blob" that churned in the Pacific Ocean between 2013 and 2017. In the Gulf of Alaska, the cod population plummeted by more than 80 percent.

Unsurvivable Heatwaves Could Strike Heart of China by End of Century, Guardian, July 31

The deadliest place on the planet for extreme future heatwaves will be the north China plain, one of the most densely populated regions in the world and the most important food-producing area in the huge nation. Humid heatwaves that kill even healthy people within hours will strike the area repeatedly towards the end of the century thanks to climate change, unless there are heavy cuts in carbon emissions.

SEE REPORT: North China Plain Threatened by Deadly Heatwaves Due to Climate Change and Irrigation, Nature Communications, July 31

Drought Relief Is Coming. Australia’s Farmers Say It’s Nowhere near EnoughNew York Times, July 30

The drought that has been suffocating Australia for months just keeps tightening its grip. In response, state officials in New South Wales announced a new assistance package worth about $370 million. Farmers across the affected region they were grateful but certain: It’s not even close to enough.

SEE ALSO: Drought Turns Up the Heat on Wheat Producers, Financial Times, July 30


Why Tanzanian Women Farmers Need Land Rights, Opinion, John Namkwahe, AllAfrica, July 30

Tanzania is among the developing nations where gender inequality denies women the right to access land for economic production. Access to potentially-productive land is crucial to combating discrimination against women. Moreover, their ability to become involved in land administration institutions is handicapped, compounded by outdated and archaic customs in extant laws.

How to Find out If 'Women's Empowerment' Programs Really Empower Women, NPR, July 27

Many aid programs in low-income countries have set "empowering women" as their goal. They don't just want to boost women's incomes and health and education level, but to give them the ability to make their own decisions over those aspects of their lives. However, this goal has met numerous setbacks, namely in researchers’ ability to accumulate truthful data from interviews with women and girls in developing countries.

In Rwanda, Agricultural Reforms Boost Food Security and Slash Poverty, Christian Science Monitor, July 25

Rwanda, once mired in one of the worst genocides in modern history, is now a leader in Africa’s Green Revolution, a movement that aims to empower farming industries to end poverty and hunger across the continent. Rwanda has transformed its agricultural sector from a scattered network of family farms into a thriving economic system thanks to reforms allow women—who have long dominated the agricultural industry—to inherit land.


Grain Merchant ADM Weathers Agricultural Trade Wars, Financial Times, July 31

The Chicago-based company Archer Daniels Midland operates one of the largest crop trading businesses, purchasing harvests from farmers for processing or sale at destinations around the world. Analysts say that the dislocations and grain price fluctuations caused by the trade disruptions have been very positive for ADM.

Soybean Farmers Are Surviving Trump’s Trade War – Even without His $12 Billion Aid PackageWashington Post, July 30

President Trump has committed $12 billion to protect American farmers hurt by his trade war. But growers of soybeans have largely escaped financial damage thus far, raising questions about the purpose and timing of the bailout. While soybean prices have plummeted in recent months as China slapped tariffs on $45 billion of US goods, the complexity of the markets where they are sold has insulated many growers from financial harm in the short-term.

US Almond Farmers Are Reeling from Chinese TariffsWall Street Journal, July 28

Prices for California almonds have fallen by more than 10 percent over the past two months. The United States is the world’s largest producer and exporter of almonds, with 80 percent of the global supply coming from California. China was the second-largest importer of US almonds after the European Union until recent tariffs hindered trade. Chinese businesses say they are trying to buy more nuts grown domestically and from other producers such as those in Australia and Africa.

Higher US Soy Imports Won't Harm EU Farmers: German Minister,Reuters, July 27

An agreement by the European Union to increase soy imports from the United States will not harm EU farmers, says the German agriculture minister. Europe had previously relied on soy imports from South America but would now shift its demand to US suppliers. Washington will suspend the imposition of new tariffs on the European Union.

SEE ALSO: Trump Adviser Kudlow Says US to ‘Immediately’ Start EU Trade Talks on Ag, Wall Street Journal, July 29

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump Agrees to Cease Fire in the Trade War with the EUEconomist, July 28

SEE ALSO: US Touts EU Trade Truce, Attention Now Turns to China, Reuters, July 26

British Farmers Worry: Who Will Pick the Fruit after Brexit?Washington Post, July 29

As long as Britain has remained part of the European Union, by treaty its doors have been wide-open to the “free movement” of fellow members, including seasonal farmworkers. But as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, farmers have begun to panic. Already, labor shortages driven by economic shifts have left produce rotting in the strawberry fields. The chief executive of the Berry Gardens growers cooperative reports a 30 to 40 percent shortfall in labor this year.


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.


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