Top 10 Studies From 2020 You May Have Missed
January 28, 2021
As 2021 kicks off, stay up-to-date with the 10 most interesting and influential agriculture-related studies published over the last year.
AGRICULTURAL OUTLOOK 2020
Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2020-2029 is a collaborative effort of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) and the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), incorporating expertise from member countries and international commodity organizations. According to the Outlook, world agricultural markets face a range of uncertainties in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic. Key among these are challenges to the supply chain, antimicrobial resistance, regulatory uncertainty, and climate change. Changes in diet and the growth of digital agriculture will also have important impacts on both supply and demand. Finally, the report concludes that future trade agreements and changing trade relations between several important players will also impact agricultural markets.
The STATE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 2020
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
The State of Food and Agriculture 2020 focused on water, presenting new estimates on the pervasiveness of water scarcity in irrigated agriculture and of water shortages in rainfed agriculture, as well as on the number of people affected. It notes there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to addressing water shortages and scarcity. The report raises two key areas of concern: a growing population with rising demand and the connection between water and sustainable development. It suggests a range of solutions to achieving efficient, equitable and sustainable water use in agriculture. Among the recommended practices are transparent water accounting and auditing, making better use of rainwater in rainfed areas, investing in sustainable irrigation for improved water productivity, and policies that foster innovation.
GM CROPS: GLOBAL SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS 1996-2018
PG Economics by Graham Brookes
Crop biotechnology continues to provide higher farmer income and significant environmental benefits, according to the latest PG Economics report on global impacts of GM crops. Farmers who planted genetically modified (GM) crops reduced carbon emissions by 23 billion kilograms or the equivalent of removing 15.3 million cars from the roads that year. GM crops have also reduced farmers’ environmental impact by 19% and helped contribute to food security through increased yield of the key crops of soybeans, maize, cotton, and canola. Without GM technology, farmers would have had to plant approximately 24 million more hectares of crops — by increasing yield per existing farmland, GM crops have helped preserve wildlands and forests and their biodiversity. In addition, biotech crops increased farmer incomes by almost US$19 billion in 2018.
GLOBAL STATUS OF COMMERCIALIZED BIOTECH/GM CROPS: 2019
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)
ISAAA reported that 190.4 million hectares of biotech crops were grown in 29 countries in 2019, contributing significantly to food security, sustainability, climate change mitigation, and the livelihoods of 17 million biotech farmers and their families worldwide. Double-digit growth rates in biotech crop areas were recorded in developing countries, particularly in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Colombia. Of particular note, Africa doubled the number of cultivating countries in 2019 from three to six with the addition of Ethiopia, Malawi and Nigeria. The top five countries with the largest area of biotech crops were the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and India respectively.
APPROACHES TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
International Union for Conservation Nature (IUCN)
This report highlights the key approaches and practices being implemented for sustainable agriculture. IUCN examines a number of approaches to sustainable agriculture, including precision agriculture, organic farming, agroecology, and regenerative agriculture and concluded that a wide range of approaches is necessary for a sustainable food system. The report notes that when it comes to implementation, the choice of approach is very much dependent on local needs and priorities. Regardless of the approach, it recommends that policymakers create environments that are flexible to adapt to local situations.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ASSESSING HUMAN DIETARY EXPOSURE TO NEWLY EXPRESSED PROTEINS IN GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS
Journal of Regulatory Science by Carey A. Mathesius, Alaina Sauve-Ciencewicki, Jennifer Anderson, Cheryl Cleveland, Carrie Fleming, Gregory E. Frierdich, Laurie Goodwin, Mark Grunenwald, Frank Laporte, Elizabeth A. Lipscomb, Regina Oberdoerfer, Jay S. Petrick, and Patricia A. Bauman
This report provides a risk assessment of genetically modified (GM) crops including an evaluation of hazard and exposure to newly expressed crop constituents, exemplified by newly expressed proteins (NEPs). Guidance directing dietary exposure assessments (DEAs) is limited and/or globally inconsistent. The report concludes that while formal DEAs may not be scientifically necessary for the risk assessment of NEPs in GM crops, key best practices and considerations following a tiered approach are presented for cases in which formal DEAs are required to inform the risk assessment or to fulfill regulatory requirements.
PROGRESS REPORT ON THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
This report tracks global progress on the SDGs and shows that, while advances have been made in some areas, monumental challenges remain. The report spotlights areas that require urgent attention and more rapid progress to realize the 2030 Agenda’s far-reaching vision. Concerns were raised about SDG2—Zero Hunger. Eradicating hunger and achieving food security remains a challenge, more so in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as hunger and food security continue to rise, while malnutrition continues to affect millions of children. To mitigate the threats posed by the pandemic to vulnerable populations, countries need to take immediate action to keep trade flowing, to strengthen food supply chains and to increase agricultural production. The analysis concludes that in 2020, up to 132 million more people may suffer from undernourishment because of COVID-19.
PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH FOR SUSTAINABLE DIETS, AND MORE: 2020 GLOBAL AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY REPORT
Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
This report, which leverages expertise from a variety of private and public sector organizations, found that investing in productivity growth is taking on a new urgency. Despite COVID-19 the long-term trajectory of demand growth for agricultural products remains unchanged. In order to sustainably double the amount of food, feed, fiber and bioenergy needed for nearly 10 billion people in 2050, agricultural productivity will need to increase by an average annual rate of 1.73% and current growth is below target, at 1.63%. The report also identifies policy and investment priorities in agriculture, which includes: increasing funding for agricultural research and development, expanding agricultural extension and farmer training programs, accelerating adoption of science-based and information technologies, strengthening the social safety net, and improving financial risk-management tools for producers.
THE CUMULATIVE RISK ASSESSMENT OF HEPATOTOXIC CHEMICALS
National Center for Biotechnology Information by John R. Foster, Giovanna Semino-Beninel, and Stephanie Melching-Kollmuss
The increased concern on the consequence of exposure to multiple chemical combinations has led national regulatory authorities to develop different concepts to conduct risk assessments on chemical mixtures. Pesticide residues were identified as “problem formulation” in the respective European regulations and in this context, the European Food and Safety Authority has suggested to group pesticidal active ingredients (AIs) into cumulative assessment groups (CAGs) based on the toxicological properties of each AI.
Global Economic Impact of Missing and Low Pesticide Maximum Residue Levels, Vol. 1
United States International Trade Commission
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) recognized that missing and low pesticide maximum residue levels (MRLs) pose an increasingly significant impediment to global trade, and as a result commissioned a report by the United States International Trade Commission evaluating the global economic impact of the issue. The report includes an overview of the role of plant protection products and their MRLs in relation to global production, international trade, and food safety for consumers; a description of approaches to establishing national and international MRLs; a description of how MRLs for plant protection products are developed, administered, and enforced in major markets for U.S. agricultural products; a description of challenges and concerns faced by exporting countries in meeting importing country pesticide MRLs; case studies describing the costs and effects of MRL compliance and non-compliance for producers in foreign countries; and an economic literature review.