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Pre-Summit Protests, Booming Beehives, & Costly Coffee

Global Food for Thought by Julia Whiting
Shannon Stapleton
Urban beekeepers in New York City replenish a hive.

Our weekly roundup of the week's top news and research in food, agriculture, and global development.

Top Story

Food System Reforms

The United Nations Food Systems Pre-Summit convened in Rome for three days this week. The hybrid in-person/virtual event format enabled broader participation from civil society stakeholders, including farmers, researchers, and the private sector. Organized into five action tracks, the Pre-Summit is the first step on the road to achieving the UN Food Systems Summit’s four main goals: action and progress towards the SDGs; to create broad public discourse regarding the relationship of food systems to SDGs; develop principles which can effectively guide states towards using their food systems to achieve SDGs; and to create a system of evaluation that can ensure UNFSS’ efficacy.

Despite the lofty goals and efforts at increasing event accessibility, many food producers networks and indigenous movements are boycotting the Summit and Pre-Summit. Citing deeply rooted power imbalances and structural inequalities, indigenous peoples and small-scale producer organizations held a counter-summit to assert their rights to food sovereignty and self-determination.

Council Insights

Life Lessons from Congress & Beyond 

A career that spanned the entertainment industry, Congress, and cabinet-level administration gave Chicago Council Distinguished Fellow Dan Glickman a unique perspective on America’s current political malaise. For the former secretary of agriculture, the principles guiding his life—respect, civility, and a sense of humor—are sorely missing from our political discourse, but an alternative path is still possible. Glickman joins the Council’s Peggy Yih to discuss why even amidst a crisis of partisanship, he still believes America is a land of optimism and opportunity. Register now for this free & virtual event!

Food & Agriculture

Heat Continues

The heat waves that have been causing problems for farmers across the globe are not over yet, and do not appear to be ending soon. Climate scientists say the heat is being caused by human-caused climate change.

Boom in Bees

Britain and New York City are both facing issues as a growing number of people turn to beehives as a hobby. The rising number of hives causes environmental issues, posing a threat to other native pollinator species.  

Price Increases

Global food prices are continuing their dramatic rise. Farmers are struggling to keep up with increasing demand and many consumers fear broader inflation, but “big ag” firms are thriving. The net profits for the four largest multinational trading companies in the industry more than doubled last year and show no sign of shrinking.

Deeper Dive

More than Just Bees

Between 75-95 percent of all earth’s flowering plants need pollinators. Although bees are the most popular pollinators, many species are responsible for plant growth. Over 100,000 invertebrates and 4,000 mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians also help pollinate plants. That includes butterflies, ants, and even lemurs and honey possums.

Data Crunch

Tropical Forest Warning System

A team of almost 60 international scientists have devised an early warning system that uses satellite data to protect tropical forests around the world from growing threats, including worsening drought and logging.

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Climate Reshaping Agricultural Landscape

Climate change is causing a northward shift of agricultural production. Rising temperatures and drought in lower latitude regions threaten the production of certain crops. n higher latitude regions, a warming climate enables the cultivation of new crops and varieties that would have been challenging to produce in previous decades.

Disinfectant for Dead Livestock

A Chinese animal husbandry association is seeking large volumes of disinfectant and other disease-prevention materials for a central province of Henan, where widespread floods have killed thousands of livestock.

Big Ideas

The Key to Sustainability

Cattle manure could be vital in reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and increasing farm productivity. Biochar is created by burning manure without oxygen and can reduce the need for soil fertilization if used thoughtfully. 

Sustainability Metrics in Industry

A growing number of stakeholders, including companies, non-profits, farmers, and governments, are calling for a new set of sustainability metrics and benchmarks. Supporters hope that new metrics will raise awareness of sustainability factors and guide the way banks, investors, and supply chain actors engage with food systems that protect the planet.

DC Report

Fighting Food Insecurity

Those serving in the US National Guard, military reserves, and on active duty have recently experienced food insecurity at rates double the national average. The DoD is developing a comprehensive plan to address the high levels of food insecurity in the military, citing the issue as a national security concern.

Big Actors

Eco-Label Under Fire

The Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) blue tick, one of the world’s largest fishery eco-labels, is facing controversy. Conservationists have noted that fisheries that threaten whale populations and have high levels of bycatch have been labeled “sustainable” by the MSC.

Fines for Foundation Food Group

Foundation Food Group, a large American poultry processing company, is facing approximately one million dollars in fines after a nitrogen leak that killed six workers. Federal workplace safety officials noted that proper safety procedures were not used.

Trade & Commodities

Corn Exports to China Surge

US grain merchant ADM reported a 52 percent leap in quarterly profit from strong exports and oilseed crushing margins, largely driven by corn sales to China.

Coffee Prices Soar

While many parts of the world face heat waves, Brazil has faced severe frosts recently, which have destroyed coffee crops. As a result, Arabica coffee prices rose almost 10 profit in one day.

About the Author
Julia Whiting
Former Research Associate
Council expert Julia Whiting
Julia Whiting joined the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in 2019 and was a research associate with the Global Food and Agriculture Program. She supported the development of research reports on global food security issues as well as coordinated digital engagement and content for the program.
Council expert Julia Whiting