Valuing food security

12/10/2020

The importance of food security has been acknowledged in the recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize :

The need for international solidarity and multilateral cooperation is more conspicuous than ever. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 to the World Food Programme (WFP) for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation addressing hunger and promoting food security. In 2019, the WFP provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries who are victims of acute food insecurity and hunger. In 2015, eradicating hunger was adopted as one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The WFP is the UN’s primary instrument for realising this goal. In recent years, the situation has taken a negative turn. In 2019, 135 million people suffered from acute hunger, the highest number in many years. Most of the increase was caused by war and armed conflict.

The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world.  . . 

Food insecurity is not a problem that is peculiar to the developing world.  The growing demand for food banks and the need to feed children at school are evidence that hunger is a problem in New Zealand too.

Food security ought to be the prime concern of every government.

This was recognised in the Paris Accord which stated that reducing carbon emissions should not come at the expense of food production.

Too many environmentalists and politicians, forget this with their campaigns against farming as Marcus Holtkoetter writes:

The European Commission has a plan to eliminate modern farming in Europe.

The details emerged last month, as part of a “European Green Deal” announced late last year that calls for the continent to become “climate neutral” by 2050.

The commission speaks of “turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities.” It also talks about “making the transition just and inclusive for all.”

It should have added three words: “except for farmers.”That’s because the EU Commission just released its “Farm to Fork” strategy, which is the agricultural portion of the European Green Deal. It announces a series of unrealistic goals: In the next decade, farmers like me are supposed to slash our use of crop-protection products by half, cut our application of fertilizer by 20 percent, and transform a quarter of total farmland into organic production.

None of this, of course, is supposed to disrupt anybody’s dinner.

Europeans are blessed to live in a well-fed society. We have stable governments, reliable infrastructure, and advanced economies. We also have some of the best farmland in the world, with good soil and strong yields, year after year. Through intensive farming, we achieve excellent results-and we don’t face the problems of hunger and malnutrition that plague less fortunate people in other societies.

What the European Commission now proposes, essentially, is smaller harvests. For consumers, this will lead directly to one thing: Higher prices. Food will cost more.

There’s also a deeper problem. How are farmers supposed to make a living when we’re growing fewer crops and selling less food? The commission fails to consider one of the most likely results of its misbegotten approach to agriculture: When farmers can’t turn a profit, they’ll quit farming.

If that happens, the smaller harvests will shrink even further.

This defies what the commission says is its major goal, which is to make “the EU’s economy sustainable.” It needs to understand that there is no such thing as economic sustainability without a sustainable economy.

It also raises the question of where our food will come from, if it doesn’t come from our own farms. We could always import more food from other places. Global trade already is an essential feature of food production. We should encourage more of it.

Yet the European Green Deal will lead to substandard farming in places with less productive farmland. This may help fill bellies in a Europe that has fewer farmers. It may even salve the consciences of activists and bureaucrats in Brussels. It certainly won’t help the climate.

Our goal should be to grow more food on less land. Yet the EU’s present approach, driven by ideology rather than science, will lead to growing less food on more land.

What’s “green” about that?

There is nothing green about that, just as there is nothing green about the anti-farming measures here which don’t appreciate how efficient New Zealand food production is; the impact on food supply, and price, if production is cut and the environmental cost if reductions in production here are replaced by increases in production in other much less efficient places.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has recognised the importance of food security, and the dangers posed to world peace by food insecurity.

Hunger can cause wars and those who put the environment before food should understand there’s nothing green about wars.


October 17 in history

17/10/2009

On October 17:

539 BC King Cyrus The Great of Persia marched into the city of Babylon, releasing the Jews from almost 70 years of exile and made the first Human Rights Declaration

1662 Charles II of England sold Dunkirk to France for 40,000 pounds.

1814 The London Beer Flood killed nine people.

1877 Chief Justice Sir James Prendergast declared the Treaty of Waitangi “worthless” and a “simple nullity”.

1888 Thomas Edison filed a patent for the Optical Phonograph (the first movie).

1907 – Guglielmo Marconi‘s company began the first commercial transatlantic wireless service between Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada and Clifden, Ireland.

1915 US playwright – Arthur Miller was born.

 

1918 US actress Rita Hayworth was born.

1930 US nutritionist Robert Atkins was born.

1942 US musician Gary Puckett was born.

 

1969 Ernie Els, South African golfer, was born.

 
Golfer Ernie Els at US Open.jpg

1979 – Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

2007 The Dalai Lama received the United States Congressional Gold Medal.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


Meatless days won’t save world

08/09/2008

The United Nations wants us to eat less meat to reduce our carbon footprint.

People should have one meat-free day a week if they want to make a personal and effective sacrifice that would help tackle climate change, the world’s leading authority on global warming has told The Observer

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which last year earned a joint share of the Nobel Peace Prize, said that people should then go on to reduce their meat consumption even further.

I hope he knows more about climate change than diet because health professionals are generally agreed that we shouldn’t eat too much meat at all and that three to five small servings of lean red meat a week is enough.

So we should already be having a couple of meat-free days if we want to lower our risk of heart disease and some cancers. But urging us to do it for environmental reasons is more contentious.

Obesity is literally a growing problem for some but others are starving because the world is short of protein and the mad rush to replace fossil fuels with bio fuels is one of the reasons for that. This prescription for meat-free days could also have unforeseen consequences without reducing carbon emissions.

I hope the work on climate change for which the doctor is so highly regarded is more credible than his pronouncement on meat eating because he doesn’t seem to realise that that some people going without meat doesn’t necessarily alter the number of animals being farmed and the total amount of meat being eaten. Farmers might keep the same size of herds and find new markets and customers for their produce.

Also not all meat production is equal. The extensive grasslands production methods used in New Zealand, Australia and Argentina has a much lower carbon footprint than intensive grain fed systems employed in most of Europe – even when you take into account transporting the meat part way round the world to get it to the market.

Crop production and processing isn’t necessarily equal either. While generally producing a given amount of nutrients from crops may result in lower carbon emissions than producing the same amount from meat; some meat production could be more carbon-efficient than growing, harvesting and producing some crops.

The science is not settled on climate change and unscientific pronouncements like these from Dr Pacahuri only add to the questions.

[Bob Edlin has a related post at Dig n Stir.]

Hat tip: Inquiring Mind


Climate change debate distorted by dogma

20/07/2008

University of Otago geographer, Professor Geoffrey Kearsley, says that while human activity is changing the climate there is an increasing body of science that says the sun may have a greater role than previously thought.

It is now pretty much taken for granted that global warming is ongoing, that climate change is being driven by human activity and that it is critically important that extraordinary changes be made in fundamental aspects of our economy and way of life.

On the small scale, people plant trees, examine food miles, purchase carbon offsets and modify their travel behaviour.

Cities and even countries vie with one another to become carbon neutral; as a nation, we are contemplating emission controls, taxes and carbon-trading schemes that will have a profound effect on individual households and the national economy alike.

When linked with the other great crisis of our times – peak oil – it has become not only socially desirable to embrace all of this, but sustainability has achieved the status of a higher morality.

It has become politically unacceptable to doubt any of the current dogma.

So politics not science is driving the debate.

Not to subscribe wholeheartedly to the sustainability ethos is to be labelled not just a sceptic but a denier, with overtones of Holocaust denial and a wilful, unreasonable immorality.

It is said that we are now beyond the science and that the science of global warming has been finalised or determined and that all scientists agree.

Sceptics and deniers are simply cynical pawns in the pockets of the big oil companies.

And no one points out the vested interests in what has become the climate change industry.

This is unfortunate, to say the least.

Science is rarely determined or finalised; science evolves and the huge complexity of climate science will certainly continue to evolve in the light of new facts, new experiences and new understandings. Read the rest of this entry »


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