While the world’s attention is focused on controlling COVID-19, evidence points at the biodiversity crisis as a leading factor in its emergence. At first glance, the two issues might seem unrelated, but disease outbreaks and degraded ecosystems are deeply connected.
On a recent World Bank ‘Voices’ blog, German agricultural economist Juergen Voegele, World Bank vice president for sustainable development, said that with the emptying of supermarket shelves and the sweeping travel bans being put in place to try to stem the spread of COVID-19, one might deduce that global food supplies were low. That’s not the case, he says.
World Bank/Brookings report: ‘A key priority for Africa over the next decade should be to address a deteriorating food security situation that is compounded by the effects of climate change, declining agricultural productivity, and rapid population and urbanization growth.’
A new scientific article from the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems has four big messages: (1) Meat, offal, milk, eggs and fish are vital to—and missing from—the diets of nearly 800 million people. (2) ‘Animal-sourced foods’ are the best sources of high-quality nutrient-rich food for toddlers 6–23-months old. (3) The harms caused by livestock and animal-sourced foods to human and planetary health are overstated. (4) Sustainable development must address the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.
A new paper by scientists at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Tufts University analyses the costs of adopting the ‘universal reference diet’ recommended for both human and planetary health by the EAT-Lancet Commission (Willett et al., Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, 16 Jan 2019). Such a diet, report the paper’s authors, is beyond the means—indeed, it exceeds the total household per capita incomes—of more than one and a half billion people today.
Andrew Bisson, livestock specialist for the Bureau for Food Security at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), introduces ‘Livestock Month’ by Agrilinks, USAID’s knowledge platform.
The creation of a separate ministerial portfolio for animal husbandry, dairying, and fisheries for the first time by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his second term has aroused keen interest in the agricultural policy space.