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Wild Pigs, Lab Foie Gras, and Drought Reroute

Global Food for Thought by Julia Whiting

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

Top Story

Vegetarian Foie Gras?

A startup hoping to make foie gras in a lab, recently received an additional 10 million dollars in seed funding. Many hope that lab-grown meat and other sustainable alternatives will help reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment. Despite all the great expectations, cell-based meat is a long way from being available to most consumers. Costs of production are kept high because the new technology that offers alternatives are restrained by patents, a lack of government support, and a reluctance to share research. Cell lines—cell cultures that are essential to cell-based agriculture—have largely been developed by private companies that fiercely protect their intellectual property.

Council Insights

Food Security Out of this World 

NASA Harvest, the agency’s food security and agricultural program, is developing tools to improve crop productivity and sustainability in partnership with US farmers and global collaborators. In the Council’s latest collaboration with Agri-Pulse, Dr. Catherine Nakalembe explains how NASA uses space technology to support food security around the world.

Food & Agriculture

Flu turns Fatal

India has recently recorded its first human death from Avian Influenza, otherwise known as bird flu. Bird flu rarely spreads between humans but can prove to be extremely harmful to livestock. This death presents another danger as India is still recovering from COVID-19.

Antimicrobial Resistance

The FAO and the Republic of Korea are partnering to contain and reduce foodborne antimicrobial resistance, with Korea providing $10 million to implement and monitor international food standards.

Sustainability of Global Aquaculture

A scientific review of global aquaculture highlights the sector’s increasingly important role in food security; sustainability gains in aquafeed; and challenges in management of pests, pathogens, and parasites.

Deeper Dive

What is foodborne antimicrobial resistance?

As the use of antibiotics in livestock systems has increased, zoonotic bacteria have developed resistance. Infections caused by resistant bacteria such as Salmonella are harder to treat and can result in increased mortality.  

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Data Crunch

Amazon for Livestock

Muslims who celebrate Eid al-Adha are increasingly turning to the internet to buy the livestock they need to celebrate the holiday. According to Bangladesh’s livestock department, nearly 390,000 animals have been sold via online platforms for holiday.


Wild Pigs Worsening Weather

Invasive wild pigs are tearing through carbon-rich soil around the world, potentially releasing as much carbon dioxide as a million cars, according to a recent study.

Big Ideas

Growing GMOs

Although genetically modified crops can create more nutritious and heartier crops, many people mistrust GMO crops. This mistrust may need to be overcome in order to meet the demands a growing world population and to battle effects of climate change.

DC Report

Cruz and Vilsack spar on farmworkers 

Senator Cruz and Secretary Vilsack debated provisions of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. Cruz argued that Biden has created a pull factor for undocumented immigrants, and Vilsack countered that hunger and poverty in Central America drive immigration and farmworkers deserve amnesty. 

Big Actors

Food Monopolies

In the United States, the food industry is monopolized. A recent investigation by the Guardian and Food and Water watch has showed that almost 80 percent of everyday grocery items are supplied by just a few companies. 80 percent of beef and 70 percent of pork processing is controlled by just four multinational corporations.

Trade & Commodities

Drought Reroute

Spring wheat and canola export markets may be forced to reroute this year after severe droughts have slashed outputs in Canada, a top exporter of both crops. China, the top importer of Canadian canola and wheat, could turn to Australia to make up the shortfall, despite strained trade relations.

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