Quote of
the week

"If we tried to feed the global population today on the average agricultural yields of the 1960s, we would need to farm over 85 percent of global land, instead of the 35 percent we use currently."

 

Professor Robert Henry

University of Queensland

Sign-up

Join our mailing list to receive regular email bulletins and comment from Science for Sustainable Agriculture.

CLICK HERE

to sign up

  • Twitter
maize improvement.webp

How natural is our food, and what does 'natural' mean anyway?

                                                                                     

EM front cover.jpg
shutterstock_1417299719_edited.jpg

Sustainable food and farming policies must be rooted in science, says new policy group

                                                                                     

ssa report f-c.jpg
2020 LabTest Asia Roberts-Yalland, purity analysis.JPG
shutterstock_1586721013.jpg

comment

“Figuring out how to feed, clothe and power 11 billion people without causing mass species extinction and wrecking the climate is this century’s greatest challenge."

"Preserving diverse life while meeting humanity’s needs will mean enormous trade-offs, but the evidence is starting to point in one direction."

"Most species fare much better if habitats are left intact, which means reducing the space needed for farming. So areas that are farmed need to be as productive as we can possibly make them.”

Professor Andrew Balmford FRS

Conservation scientist

University of Cambridge

Read full article HERE

shutterstock_1586719456.jpg

must reads

Science for Sustainable Agriculture news

Pro-science think-tank urges Defra to put evidence and data at the heart of farm policy review

To deliver the best outcomes for food security, the environment and the climate, Science for Sustainable Agriculture is urging Defra Ministers to restore the strategic policy focus on sustainable intensification in UK agriculture, underpinned by science-based metrics, and with a clear focus on genetic innovation as the main driver of agricultural productivity.   

Read more...

The unnatural nature of food (Part 2)

Matt Ridley

 

Science writer Matt Ridley continues to explore the concept of ‘naturalness’ in food and farming, arguing that our obsession with food being natural is getting in the way of our food being plentiful, affordable, healthy and good for nature. He suggests that the more concentrated and productive we make our farming systems, the better it is for nature by using less land, less water and fewer natural resources.

Read more...

We must look to scientific innovation in agriculture to deliver Net Zero

Julian Sturdy MP

Launching an APPG inquiry into the technologies, innovations and practices which can help Britain's farmers deliver on the UK's net zero commitments, Julian Sturdy MP argues that action on climate change must look to science and innovation rather than arbitrary targets or restrictions on economic activity.   

Read more...

Innovation can support the goals of regenerative agriculture – but are technologies like gene editing in or out?

Professor Johnathan Napier

Genetic technologies can help deliver the objectives of regenerative agriculture, says UK plant scientist Professor Johnathan Napier. But will they be allowed to, he asks.

Read more...

ScotGov must do the right thing by science on gene editing 

Finlay Carson MSP

Faced with a cost-of-living crisis, forecasts of increasing global hunger, and unprecedented drought conditions impacting crop production world-wide, Finlay Carson MSP, convenor of the Rural Affairs Committee in the Scottish Parliament, highlights the enormous contribution Scotland’s world-leading agri-science base can make, and urges Scottish Ministers to follow the science on technologies such as gene editing to allow research in Scotland to realise its full potential.  

Read more...

UK agricultural policies must follow the science and evidence, says agricultural economist

 

A UK agricultural economist says the best way to provide the UK population with access to adequate supplies of food, at reasonable prices, whilst not destroying the Earth’s climate and many species of plant and animal life, is to recognise the need for a combination of high yield farming, natural habitat and lower intensity farming systems – reflecting the three-compartment approach set out in Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy document and inspired by the work of conservation scientists, Professors Andrew Balmford and Rhys Green at the University of Cambridge.   

 

Graham Brookes of PG Economics said the science points to a need for sensible combining of production methods and techniques used in both high and lower intensity (including organic) production systems, and to embrace (not reject) the adoption of new innovations and technologies like plant genetics, digital agriculture and precision farming.

Read more ...

The unnatural nature of food

Matt Ridley

What could be more natural than organically grown Golden Promise barley, used to make craft-brewed pale ale?

 

As one artisan brewer boasts: “The Golden Promise malt, showcased in this pale ale, is an early-maturing spring barley from Scotland. It has a very clean sweetness and a prominent biscuity flavour that is perfect for UK-style pale ales with their rich and malty flavour profiles.”

 

Only hang on a minute.

 

Golden Promise was produced in 1965 by irradiating barley seeds with gamma rays from Cobalt 60 isotopes provided by the Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment to a profit-seeking plant breeding firm, writes Matt Ridley.

Read more...

National Trust lunacy shows why we urgently need a science-based land use strategy

 

Faced with global food security concerns and soaring food and energy price inflation, the UK Government seems to have woken up to the importance of having a productive domestic farming industry.

 

But reports that one of Britain’s biggest landowners, The National Trust, is taking large chunks of productive farmland back in-hand from long-term tenants for tree planting and re-wilding, and is promoting low-yield farming on some of our most fertile soils, highlights the urgent need for a coherent land use strategy which recognises the significance of food production, writes Norfolk arable farmer David Hill.    

Read more...

   

Yorkshire farmer urges BBC to respect the science and address ‘false balance’ in biotech coverage

 

Yorkshire arable farmer Phil Lodge, who took part in the Government’s GM crop Farm-Scale Evaluations (FSE) over 20 years ago, has criticised the BBC for failing to respect the science in its coverage of genetic engineering in food and agriculture.

“Where the BBC seems to accept the scientific evidence behind man-made climate change, and no longer pursues a policy of ‘false balance’ by giving equal airtime to climate change sceptics, the same cannot be said of their treatment of GMOs and genetic engineering in agriculture.”      

 

“How long will it take before the global weight of scientific evidence behind the safety and efficacy of GM crops finally seeps into the consciousness of BBC journalists, editors and producers?” he asks.  

Read more...

 

Call for proper scientific scrutiny and validation of the Sustainable Food Trust’s Global Farm Metric

 

The policy group Science for Sustainable Agriculture has called on Ministers to submit the Sustainable Food Trust’s Global Farm Metric model to a proper process of scientific scrutiny and validation.     

 

It follows concerns raised by leading academic scientists in the field that, by measuring environmental impacts such as resource use and greenhouse gas emissions on a whole farm basis, rather than in terms of food output, the Global Farm Metric is skewed towards less productive, more extensive farming systems.

Read more...

Defining and measuring agricultural sustainability

Dr Julian Little

 

We urgently need a more consistent and science-based approach to defining and measuring what we mean by sustainable agriculture, argues Dr Julian Little.

  

A recent article on The Breakthrough Institute website, entitled Measuring What Matters, summed it up perfectly:

 

“To really shrink agriculture’s considerable environmental footprint, we need a new model of agricultural sustainability, one that replaces an antiquated practice-based system with an outcome-based one, directly rewarding better environmental performance.”

Read more...

Industrialisation of organic will seal its downfall

Matt Ridley

“Is organic’s luck about to run out?” So ran a recent headline in The Grocer magazine, and it got me thinking. Could food retailers really be questioning the future of the organic offer? And why might that be? Cost of living crisis putting premium-priced organic products beyond the reach of even the more well-heeled consumers? That is certainly the case, but it turns out that’s not the half of it, writes Matt Ridley. 

Read more...

State Of The Union Address Highlights Flawed EU Approach To Food Crisis

London Globe, September 2022

State of the Union address highlights flawed EU approach to food crisis - London Globe (london-globe.com)

Purple tomatoes herald a new era for GM food

Sunday Times, September 2022

Purple tomatoes herald a new era for GM food | Business | The Sunday Times (thetimes.co.uk)

Liz Truss must ditch the anti-farming lobby

Sir James Dyson, The Telegraph, September 2022

Liz Truss must ditch the anti-farming lobby (telegraph.co.uk)

A debate beyond conventional versus organic

Richard Smoley, Produce Blue Book, September 2022

A debate beyond conventional versus organic – Produce Blue Book

Regenerative Agriculture Doesn't Have to Be Contentious

Shane Thomas, Upstream Ag Insights, September 2022

Regenerative Agriculture Doesn't Have to Be Contentious (substack.com)

Agricultural Research and Development: How to Grow Enough Food for Everyone With the Least Carbon Emissions

The Breakthrough Institute, September 2022

Agricultural Research and Development: How to Grow Enough Food for… (thebreakthrough.org)

Time to reopen the GE in agriculture debate

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, The Country, 20 September 2022

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth: Time to reopen the GE in agriculture debate - NZ Herald

Who’s Afraid of Gene-Edited Crops?

Emma Kovak, Foreign Policy, September 2022

The World Needs More Gene-Edited Crops (foreignpolicy.com)

Eating insects can be good for the planet – Europeans should eat more of them

Peter Alexander, The Conversation, September 2022

Eating insects can be good for the planet – Europeans should eat more of them (theconversation.com)

Europe sows seeds for sustainable farming revolution, but will they grow?

Angeli Mehta, Reuters, September 2022

Europe sows seeds for sustainable farming revolution, but will they grow? | Reuters

Farming voice has been lost in new Scots ‘ag bill’ proposals

Colin Ferguson, Farmers Weekly, September 2022

Opinion: Farming voice has been lost in new Scots 'ag bill' proposals - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

 

Major shifts coming in GMO crops

Richard Smoley, Produce Blue Book, September 2022 

Major shifts coming in GMO crops – Produce Blue Book

Follow the science

Ruaraidh Gilmour, Holyrood, September 2022

Follow the science (holyrood.com)

Europe’s Drought Might Force Acceptance of Gene-Edited Crops

Wired, September 2022

Europe’s Drought Might Force Acceptance of Gene-Edited Crops | WIRED UK

We need to change how we think about world hunger

Bill Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, September 2022

Goalkeepers | 2022 Report (gatesfoundation.org)

Starting a Revolution Isn’t Enough

Jennifer E. Doudna, The Atlantic, September 2022

Starting a CRISPR Revolution Isn't Enough - The Atlantic

High-yield heroes should be championed

Chris Bennett, Farmers Weekly, September 2022

Chris Bennett: High-yield heroes should be championed - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

Indoor farming and the pink elephant

Colinda de Beer, Innovation Origins, September 2022

Indoor farming and the pink elephant - Innovation Origins

The long, leguminous quest to give crops nitrogen superpowers

Matt Simon, Grist, September 2022

The long, leguminous quest to give crops nitrogen superpowers | Grist

 

Researchers just made it easier—and cheaper—to confuse crop pests

Erik Stokstad, Science, September 2022

Researchers just made it easier—and cheaper—to confuse crop pests | Science | AAAS

Something in the air

Johnathan Napier, Nature Sustainability, September 2022

Something in the air | Nature Sustainability

The big problem with organic farming is it cannot produce enough food to feed the world’s population

William Reville, The Irish Times, September 2022

William Reville - The Irish Times

'Swarm of innovation' will be needed to feed future world

NZ Herald, August 2022

Agribusiness and Trade: 'Swarm of innovation' will be needed to feed future world - NZ Herald

The power of genetics and environment in indoor agriculture

Vonnie Estes, AFN, August 2022

The power of genetics and environment in indoor agriculture - AFN (agfundernews.com)

A reflection on global food security challenges amid the war in Ukraine and the early impact of climate change

McKinsey & Company, August 2022

Global food security: New risks and disruptions | McKinsey

Improving Food Production One Spray at a Time

AlphaBio Control, August 2022

Improving Food Production One Spray at a Time - AlphaBio Control

Plant Biotech, the Underrated and Underfunded Environmental Tool

Emma Kovak, The Breakthrough Institute, August 2022

Plant Biotech, the Underrated and… | The Breakthrough Institute

Has Sri Lanka finally learned its lesson on emotional vs. evidence-based agri policies?

Dr Roshan Rajadurai, The Morning, August 2022

Has Sri Lanka finally learned its lesson on emotional vs. evidence-based agri policies? - The Morning - Sri Lanka News

Science has made a new genetic revolution possible. Now let it flourish

The Economist, August 2022

Science has made a new genetic revolution possible | The Economist

New prime minister must put rocket up Defra’s backside

David Richardson, Farmers Weekly, August 2022

Opinion: New prime minister must put rocket up Defra’s backside - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

Making agriculture greener

MIT Technology Review, August 2022

Making agriculture greener | MIT Technology Review

How Agrigenomics Can Help Address Climate Change

Val Giddings, ITIF, August 2022

How Agrigenomics Can Help Address Climate Change | ITIF

 

Environmental activist irony: Anti-chemical campaigners end up promoting higher food prices with few farming or health benefits

Stuart Smyth, Genetic Literacy Project, August 2022

Environmental activist irony: Anti-chemical campaigners end up promoting higher food prices with few farming or health benefits - Genetic Literacy Project

Mexican Farming Can Transition to be More Resilient with Technology

Guillermo Breton, Global Farmer Network, August 2022

Mexican Farming Can Transition to be More Resilient With Technology – Global Farmer Network®

 

How and why gene editing faces fewer global regulations than GMOs

Steven Cerier, Genetic Literacy Project, August 2022

How and why gene editing faces fewer global regulations than GMOs - Genetic Literacy Project

We Are Asking For More Than Food From Our Farms. A New Cropping Option May Help Meet The Demand

Steven Savage, Forbes, 17 August 2022

We Are Asking For More Than Food From Our Farms. A New Cropping Option May Help Meet The Demand (forbes.com)

Meet the scientists ‘unlocking the genetic potential’ of wheat to boost global food security

Food Navigator, August 2022

https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2022/08/18/Meet-the-scientists-unlocking-the-genetic-potential-of-wheat-to-boost-global-food-security#

Turn of the tide? The Guardian puts organic farming on blast

Amanda Zaluckyj, The Farmers Daughter USA, AgDaily, August 2022

Turn of the tide? The Guardian puts organic farming on blast | AGDAILY

The hunt for more sustainable agriculture

Prof Robert Henry, New Food Magazine, August 2022

The hunt for more sustainable agriculture; a macadamia case study (newfoodmagazine.com)

Her Discovery Changed the World. How Does She Think We Should Use It?

New York Times, August 2022

Her Discovery Changed the World. How Does She Think We Should Use It? - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Betting on agriculture, research to battle inflation and climate change

Owen Roberts, Observer, August 2022

Betting on agriculture, research to battle inflation and climate change (observerxtra.com)

Weed’s “superpower” could help feed the planet

Freethink, August 2022

Weed's "superpower" could help feed the planet (freethink.com)

Ill-Conceived Schemes Contribute to Higher Global Food Prices

Nick Giordano, Pork Business, August 2022

Ill-Conceived Schemes Contribute to Higher Global Food Prices | Pork Business

The Green War on Dutch Farmers Should Concern Everybody

James Bascom, American Thinker, August 2022

The Green War on Dutch Farmers Should Concern Everybody - American Thinker

 

Preventing late blight with GMO potatoes could ease food insecurity

Dave Douches, Michigan Farmer, August 2022

Preventing late blight with GMO potatoes could ease food insecurity (farmprogress.com)

Agenda: Taking big steps toward greater food security

Professor Wayne Powell, The Herald, August 2022

Agenda: Taking big steps toward greater food security | HeraldScotland

A New Green Revolution Is in the Offing

Ronald Bailey, Reason, August 2022

New green revolution ushered in by crop biotech breakthroughs (reason.com)

How to grow cereal crops with less fertiliser, and save money

Open Access Government, August 2022

How to grow cereal crops with less fertiliser, and save money (openaccessgovernment.org)

EU’s ‘Farm to Fork’ Must Adapt to Harsh Realities of War and Drought

Thomas Anderson, International Policy Digest, August 2022

EU’s ‘Farm to Fork’ Must Adapt to Harsh Realities of War and Drought (intpolicydigest.org)

Government leaders, take note: Limit the tools of modern agriculture at your own peril

Gary Baise, Farm Progress, August 2022

Sri Lanka, the Netherlands – are we next? (farmprogress.com)

Checking in on the Bees

Bill Wirtz, Inside Sources, August 2022

Checking In on the Bees – InsideSources