November 2, 2018

This Week's GFFT News: Soybean Slump, Deforestation in Argentina, and Food Safety

Apply now! Applications for the 2019 Next Generation Delegation close this Sunday.

The Next Generation Delegation program provides an opportunity for promising students from around the world to attend the 2019 Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, DC.

Delegates engage in symposium discussions and interact with business and policy leaders, civil society, and social entrepreneurs working on agriculture, food, and nutrition issues. Applications are due on or before Sunday, November 4, 2018

Top Story

Starvation threatens thousands of Syrians stranded at a desert camp near the border with Jordan. The last shipment of aid to reach the camp from Jordan came in January 2018, and hopes of additional food and medical supplies reaching the camp are dimming as winter approaches.

The Rukban camp, besieged by heavy rains and sand storms in recent weeks, is home to 45,000 Syrian refugees. Attempts to deliver aid have stalled, and a convoy of supplies and food from the United Nations scheduled to reach the camp this week has been delayed indefinitely. Weather, geopolitics, and continued violence have made the camp just one of the latest humanitarian crises in the ongoing Syrian war.

SEE ALSO: Read the latest from the World Food Programme on hunger and the Syrian refugee crisis here.


The Last Agricultural Frontier: The African Development Bank hopes to transition Africa’s savannas into the epicenter of a new green revolution. Africa is home to 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land yet remains a net importer of food, spending $35 billion annually on food imports. The Bank believes cultivating just 4 percent of the continent’s 400 million arable hectares would allow Africa to reduce imports, feed itself, and become an exporter of food to the world.

Nutrition, Too: José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General, has urged parliamentarians to prioritize both food security and nutrition. Graziano da Silva stressed that it is not enough to only address the 821 million people facing hunger, but that affordable, nutritious food must be prioritized, too. Globally, 627 million are obese, and the number is rising—soon, the number of obese may match the number of hungry worldwide. The Director-General cited policies in Canada, Argentina, and Chile that rethink and limit processed foods as key models for the future.

Giving Abroad: According to a five-year study, The State of Global Giving by US Foundations: 2011-2015, grant-making by US foundations to charitable organizations outside the US was $9.3 billion compared $2.1 billion in 2002. Over half of all international giving by foundations during the period 2011-2015 ($17.9 billion of $35.4 billion) came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Apply NowApplications are now open for our 2019 Next Generation Delegation.

The Next Generation Delegation program provides an opportunity for promising students from around the world to attend the 2019 Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, DC.

Delegates engage in symposium discussions and to interact with business and policy leaders, civil society, and social entrepreneurs working on agriculture, food, and nutrition issues. Applications are due on or before November 4, 2018


Food Safety: A criminal investigation into the evasion of food safety standards at BRF SA, the world’s largest chicken exporter, has implicated 43 people in Brazil. According to Brazilian police, birds contaminated with toxic dioxins, antibiotics, and salmonella bacteria were found in chicken meat sold in Brazil and exported to Europe.

Opinion – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forgot one crucial element: According to Peter Wheeler, Executive Vice President of the Nature Conservatory, the IPCC fails to mention that “natural climate solutions,” such as smarter forestry practices, are widely available and affordable today. If utilized, they alone could reduce emissions by 37 percent.

Deforestation in Argentina: Argentina has cleared a quarter of its native forests since 1996 to make way for soybeans. Soybeans are critical to Argentina’s economy—more than 43 tons of them flow out of the country each year, providing a vital cash infusion into the fragile Argentine economy. But not all deforestation has been legal, and the rapid expansion of agricultural lands is leaving indigenous communities worried for their future.


Biodiversity Loss: The world has lost 60 percent of its biodiversity since 1970, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund. Outsized resource consumption, including the land, water, and energy used by agriculture, are the primary drivers of this biodiversity loss. Agricultural expansion is among the main causes of deforestation, and irrigation and dams have led to an 83 percent drop in biodiversity in rivers and lakes.


Producing the Right Food: The world produces enough food to feed every person 2,750 calories each day, yet all this food falls short of our nutritional needs. According to a new study, global agriculture production overproduces grains, sugar, and oils, but produces too few proteins, vegetables, and fruits to meet the planet’s nutritional needs.


Antibiotic Restrictions: The European parliament approved restrictions on the use of antibiotics on farm animals with the goal of halting the spread of antimicrobial-resistant “superbugs.” The new restrictions, which will become law in 2022, will challenge famers to adopt better farming practices and improve the wellbeing of their animals.

Opinion – Overcoming Overfishing: A full 73 percent of the world’s seafood is caught in developing countries, where 97 percent of the world’s small-scale fishers reside. Their livelihoods depend on a healthy supply of fish, but fish stocks are declining rapidly as seafood demand globally is at an all-time high. Addressing overfishing will require increasing funding, building capacity, collecting accurate data, and enhancing collaboration. 
SEE ALSO: The Seychelles has become the first country to issue a “blue bond,” a bond designed to fund sustainable fisheries research and low-interest loans and grants to small-scale fishers.


The Future of Food: With the latest in gene editing technology, scientists are able to turn plants’ genes “on” and “off” with unprecedented ease. Compared to older genetic modification methods, these new techniques are precise, fast, and inexpensive, ushering in a post-GMO era of biotechnology.

Agri-Energy Innovation: As alternative energy sources become increasingly mainstream, the world’s largest producer of sugar cane, Raízen, is investing big to bring bioenergy to market. Through a joint-venture with Shell Oil and the Brazilian energy conglomerate Cosan, Raízen intends to become a leader in ethanol and bioenergy—in addition to sugar.

Technologies and Farming: In China, the traditional small-scale pig-rearing industry is declining due to new environmental regulations. The transition to modern large-scale pig farms is expensive, but tech companies have a plan to help farmers make the transition and save the environment in the process.


Agricultural Grants Promote Specialty Crops: The US Department of Agriculture has awarded the state of Virginia over $500,000 in grant funding to promote specialty crops and increase economic development. The project awards are the result of a competitive grant process established by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 10 projects are included in the grant funding, including the expansion and use of mason bees as pollinators and another to research ways to develop new maple syrup production capacity. Crops that are anticipated to benefit from the grant include broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, honey, tree fruits, melons, and strawberries.

USDA Approves of D-SNAP for North CarolinaIn a press release by the US Department of Agriculture on October 31, the Agency announced that residents of Chatham, Durham, and Gilford counties in North Carolina would be eligible for disaster food benefits through the Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) program. This extension is part of an ongoing effort to support those impacted by Hurricane Florence last September. According to the specifications, households that are not typically eligible under regular SNAP rules may qualify for D-SNAP if they meet disaster income limits and have qualifying disaster-related expenses. The program gives recipients one month of benefits in order to meet their food needs as they settle back home following the disaster.


Soybean Slump: US soybean sales have slumped as a result of the US-China trade war. In turn, US farmers are turning to a surprising market: Iran. Since September, over 335,000 tons of soybeans have been exported to Iran, up from zero at the same point last year.

Meanwhile, in ChinaChina is pursuing ways to reduce its consumption of soymeal, an animal feed ingredient made from soybeans, amid a trade war with the United States.

Meat Prices in FluxArgentines are eating less beef due to rising beef prices amid the US-China trade war. While Argentines see beef as part of their cultural identity, meat consumption has dropped to 49 kg per person per year—the lowest recorded level of consumption in 60 years. 

Hog Prices, However: The US-China trade war has the price of pork falling worldwide, squeezing pork farmers in the United States and abroad with a crippling combination of rising feed costs and sinking pork prices.


Food Loves Tech
Date: November 2-3
Location: Brooklyn, NY
International Forum on Food and Nutrition
Date: November 27-28
Location: Milan, Italy
Kellogg Leadership Alliance Conference
Date: November 29-December 2
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
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 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.