Commodity Conversations Media Monitor

Environmentalists question whether the US and the EU’s Global Methane Pledge can achieve its objective of slashing methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 without more of a focus on agriculture. Food production is responsible for 25 per cent of global methane emissions every year. In the US, agriculture accounts for 36 per cent of the country’s methane, surpassing the coal and gas industry, which generates 30 per cent.

The Economist goes as far as asking whether we should treat beef in the same way as coal – presumably phasing it out. The Guardian takes a more optimistic stance and highlights farmers’ efforts to reduce their methane emissions.

However, the anti-meat lobby continues its media campaign in Time Magazine, writing:

‘Producing food through animals is inefficient, wasteful and dangerous. Today, animal agriculture, including many kinds of meat and dairy, as well as fish farming, uses roughly 80 per cent of all arable land and 41 per cent of all freshwater. It also produces nearly 60 per cent of agricultural emissions, and it is the leading cause of wildlife extinction, deforestation and loss of biodiversity, yet it produces less than 18 per cent of all calories consumed globally. It is also the cause of zoonotic diseases such as COVID and a root cause of antibiotic-resistant diseases.’

Sadly, farmers in the UK face the prospect of culling 120,000 pigs due to a shortage of abattoir workers. The FT writes that one solution may be to slaughter and cut each animal into six pieces for export to Asia, reducing the need for skilled workers. The newspaper also warns that a shortage of field workers may lead to a lack of pumpkins at Halloween. Meanwhile, due to high fertilizer prices, UK farmers may reduce field applications, possibly leading to a drop in yields next year.

Ironically, the UK’s inability to slaughter and process domestic animals, including Christmas turkeys, could lead to a surge in meat imports from the EU. Right on cue, the Guardian interviews the CEO of Higher Stakes, a company looking to produce lab-grown bacon. And in a video, the FT poses a similar question to the UK’s Good Food Institute. Not wanting to be left out of the debate, CNN asks whether there is a future for plant-based seafood. Their answer is a resounding yes.

France has accused the UK of breaking its Brexit commitments on fishing rights. Earlier this year, Britain and France deployed warships to the isle of Jersey amid protests about curtailing the ability of French boats to fish in British seas.

As well as possibly buying the UK produced six-cut pork, China is already buying increased quantities of US beef – up to $1 billion worth this year. China has cut back on Australian imports following a political tiff after Australia called for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

The Jones Food Company (JFC), the owner of Europe’s largest vertical farm, has announced plans to build the world’s largest vertical farm. When completed in 2022, it will have 148,000 square feet of growing space and supply 1,000 tonnes of fresh produce to UK supermarkets per year. The Economist is in favour of vertical farming.

Because of Brexit, the UK may soon ease restrictions on gene editing in agricultural research. The EU will continue to apply the same rules on gene editing as on gene modification.

The Philippines has become the first country to approve the commercial production of nutrient-enriched Golden Rice. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) developed Golden Rice to help curb vitamin A deficiency in developing nations. Even so, some environmental NGOs continue to lobby actively against Golden Rice because it is genetically modified.

Food Navigator reports on how Unilever is addressing environmental and social sustainability issues through regenerative agriculture. Cargill is also promoting regenerative agriculture with RegenConnect. The company manages a pilot programme that in 2020 ran on nearly 10,000 acres and paid farmers $30-45 per acre to adopt regenerative agriculture practices. Cargill plans to advance regenerative agriculture practices to 10 million acres in North America by 2030.

An op-ed in Aljazeera calls for scientists to work together to end global hunger by 2030. The outlet writes, ‘With almost 768 million people facing hunger in 2020, up some 118 million from the previous year, the global food system is in trouble.’

Meanwhile, the Guardian warns that the recent spike in coffee prices is just a taste of what is to come with global warming affecting coffee growing areas. The Guardian also writes about the difficulty in certifying the smallholder palm oil farmers who account for 40 per cent of global palm oil production.

Port congestion is negatively affecting container shipment schedules while encouraging container ships to increase sailing speeds – and, as a result, emissions. Coca-Cola is working around container tightness by switching business to bulk carriers. Meanwhile, barge rates on the Mississippi River are soaring because of the damage caused by Hurricanes Ida and Nicholas.

Finally, Bloomberg has two reports on the problems farmers face in Brazil and China – and how food prices could soar as a result.

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