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Discussions, sustainable intensification and land-grabs...

This week sees another set of discussions between Richard Young of the Sustainable Food Trust and the FCRN’s Tara Garnett on the role of grazing livestock in a sustainable food system.  Last week Richard responded to Tara’s earlier set of comments here – and Tara has now replied here. The exchange has been an interesting one, but I think ultimately we’ll have to draw a line under our discussions and agree to disagree.

Also in the mailing, a number of papers and reports that look at sustainable intensification – one paper critiques the concept as a simplistic response to a complex set of challenges while two others take it as a ‘given’ – see here and here - and offer their perspectives on what it might mean in practice.  The sustainable intensification concept is being pulled and pushed in multiple directions.  What does it mean?  What do different stakeholders think it means?  Is the concept worth retaining or is the word ‘intensification’ carry too much baggage for many people?  We’d very much welcome your comments – so please do log in and  post them.

Continuing along similar thematic lines, a paper in Environmental Research Letters estimates how much more food could theoretically be produced as a result of large scale land acquisitions (“land grabbing”) although it nuances its findings with important qualifiers – again, we’d welcome your views on this, particularly from our members based in countries where such acquisitions are taking place. Finally, a paper in Nature Communications finds that while at the field level, organic farming appears to sustain greater species diversity, at the farm level, the difference between organic and conventional farming dwindles substantially.  It argues that in order for organic farming to deliver benefits, on farm biodiversity needs to be matched by additional measures to  ensure land sparing for habitat protection.  There are also reports on food refrigeration, on the need to address CO2 emissions rather than being ‘distracted’ by short lived GHGs, and an event you might be interested in.

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