Food & Agriculture

Energy = Modern Civilization²

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

The World’s most famous equation is undoubtedly Einstein’s E=mc2, and while it stipulates that the total amount of energy in the Universe is constant and cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed, I will argue that the harnessing of energy for human purposes is what has made the exponential growth of our civilization possible. Read More »

To eat meat or not to eat meat: that is the question

By Anna Sophia Doyle*

I was browsing through one of my favorite environmental news and commentary sites (favorite as it’s both intelligent but also hilarious when reporting on very serious issues such as climate, food, energy, etc.) and came across a great article on whether eating meat could be eco-friendly.

Having wrestled with the subject myself and in honor of it being Meatless Monday, I thought I’d share some if the article’s insights with the Development Roast readers as well as a few other thoughts and related links. Read More »

Transforming problems into opportunities by mimicking nature

Lykke Andersen

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is about to end its 20th annual conference in Lima, Peru, and heads of state and negotiators from every country on Earth are fighting to get other countries to reduce their CO2 emissions as much as possible, in order to keep global warming below catastrophic levels.

This approach to tackling climate change has, as one might have expected, proven depressingly ineffective. Since the Kyoto Protocol was agreed on in 1997, CO2 emissions have increased steadily, with not the slightest hint of a slow-down. The level of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere has now reached 400 ppm (parts per million), which is more than ever before observed in the history of Homo Sapiens.

Fortunately, there are lots of creative, constructive and persistent people working on practical solutions for a happier, healthier, greener and more sustainable future. Of the thousands of inspiring, creative and constructive TED talks, I have selected three that focus on transforming our current climate change problems into opportunities by mimicking nature:

Read More »

Genetically Modified Organisms and the perils of being too precautionary

Foto Anna Sophia 3

By: Anna Sophia Doyle*

At a time when the global view of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) grows ever more polarized, the seventh meeting of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety[1] was both timely and symptomatic of the current divide. Agenda items were many and varied, including compliance to the protocol, financial mechanisms and resources, and socioeconomic considerations regarding the use of living modified organisms (LMOs)[2].

But the most hotly contested issue without doubt was the debate surrounding the attempted endorsement of the Guidance for Environmental Risk Assessment of LMOs (referred to from here on simply as “the Guidance”).

Read More »

Five Ways in which South American Communities Feel the Impact of Climate Change

Valerie GiesenReports by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the World Bank show that communities across South America are already feeling the impact of climate change today—and that these are likely to intensify in the future. According to the IPCC, the economies of most Latin American countries depend on agriculture, which means that climatic change and extreme weather events that affect farming also pose a tangible threat to economic prosperity and developmental goals in the region. A 2012 World Bank Report even predicts that South America will be one of the regions hit hardest if temperatures rose by more than the internationally recognised 2°C target. This post will highlight five of the central ways in which South Americans are experiencing the effects of climate change:

1. Temperature: In South America, climate change has led to a variety of temperature changes. While the widely-cited 2007 IPCC report observed an overall 1°C increase in temperature across South America over the past decade, there has been significant regional variation, leading to diverse effects. For instance, Bolivia’s highlands have actually cooled by 1°C over the past five decades, while there is some evidence for rising temperatures in the lowlands. In a 2009 World Bank Report, Drs. Lykke Andersen and Dorte Verner show that the contradictory trends of average temperatures have led to uneven social and economic effects of climate change in Bolivia. They estimate that the cooling experienced in the country’s highlands has reduced income in these areas by about 2–3 percent. In the country’s wealthier lowlands, no such negative trends were observed. This means that in Bolivia changes in temperature affect the population of the comparatively poor highlands disproportionately, compared to the wealthier lowland of the country. Read More »

Three South American Crops that are Endangered by Climate Change

Valerie GiesenIf climate change seemed far away, here are three reasons to reconsider. From basic daily staples to our favourite morning drink, climate change is already affecting crops in South America. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that Latin America and the Caribbean contribute 11 percent of the value of world food production, making shifts in the region’s agricultural production relevant to global, as well as regional, food security.

1. Potato: According to the International Potato Centre (CIP), the potato is the third most widely consumed food crop in the world, with annual production approaching 300 million tons. According to a 2012 report by the 8th World Potato Congress, South American potato production reached slightly over 14 million tons in 2010. However, production in South America has come under climate-change induced stress. In 2012, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) reported that potato production in the Andes is increasingly threatened by late blight disease, which caused the severe Irish potato famine in the 1850s. The Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University outlines the course of the disease: Late blight is particularly severe under warm, humid conditions. it is triggered by the ‘oomycete pathogen’, which is a microorganism that produces millions of spores from infected plants. These survive from one season to the next in infected potatoes and travel through the air causing new infections if the weather is sufficiently wet. Infected potatoes develop dark lesions on the surface and – in many cases – rot from the inside. Read More »

Could Unconventional Career Paths Stimulate Bolivia’s Development?

Lorena Talavera“There is no love sincerer than the love of food,” wrote George Bernard Shaw in his 1903 book ‘Man and Superman’. With the establishment of a new gourmet restaurant in La Paz, more of this love is coming to Bolivia. Could this move carve the path for creativity and its industry in the country?

Let me introduce you to Noma. The qualities that have placed this Danish restaurant at the top of the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants by the British magazine ‘Restaurant’, are that it is “innovative, inventive, and – of course – [that it has a] ground-breaking approach to cooking.”  However, that is not the end to this story. Following Noma’s success, co-founder Claus Meyer opened another gourmet restaurant, GUSTU, but this time in Bolivia. Now, you may be thinking, ‘why am I reading reviews about restaurants in Development Roast?’ Turns out, Claus Meyer is no ordinary gastronomic entrepreneur. It is precisely his “ground-breaking approach” to cuisine at GUSTU that might be opening doors in Bolivia towards a society more supportive of unconventional—yet still promising—career paths. Read More »

INESAD on the Radio: Real Food Empire

Real food empireToday, Real Food Empire—a radio podcast on environmentally and socially sustainable farming and eating—featured an interview with INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton.

The program discusses the institute’s work on climate change and human wellbeing, reviews Ioulia’s own research interests in food and agriculture, and highlights what Bolivia has to offer to those seeking inspiration for sustainable living. It touches on two specific articles: one on the merits of agroecological farming versus industrial agriculture and another on the need for smart agricultural planning in the Andes in response to and preparation for changes in climate.

With viewers all around the world, the program’s maker Stephanie Georgieff—who is involved with Slow Food U.S.A—shares her enthusiasm for INESAD and its work. In the program, she particularly praises INESAD’s Development Roast as a ‘living library’ of accessible articles related to sustainability and development. And expresses her hope that U.S.-based policy makers would make use of initiatives such as INESAD’s SimPachamama climate change policy game—which will be officially launched in September 2013—that teaches the player the effects of different policies on an Amazonian town.

You can listen to the entire podcast for free here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/real-food-empire/2013/07/29/inesad-sustainability-research-in-bolivia Read More »

Bolivia Climate Change Monthly: June, 2013

Welcome to the June 2013 edition of Bolivia Climate Change Monthly where you will find the latest research, policy and news related to climate change in Bolivia*.

Academic Research Bolivia Climate Change

The vulnerable Amazon: The impact of climate change on the untapped potential of hydropower systems by R. Shaeffer, A. Szklo, A. Frossard Pereira De Lucena; R. Soria, and M. Chavez-Rodriguez, published in Power and Energy Magazine.

Framing climate change and indigenous peoples: Intermediaries of urgency, spirituality and de-nationalization, by A. Roosvall and M. Tegelberg published in International Communication Gazette.

An International Network on Climate Change Impacts on Small Farmers in the Tropical Andes – Global Conventions from a Local Perspective by Andre Lindner and Jürgen Pretzsch, published in Sustainable Agriculture Research.** Read More »

What does migration have to do with on-farm conservation? A field report from the Altiplano Norte of Bolivia.

Giulia BaldinelliBy Giulia Maria Baldinelli

Although this fact may not be immediately obvious to most people outside the region, the Bolivian Altiplano is the origin and heart of much of the world’s agricultural biodiversity. While most Western consumers have at least seen one type of potato and some health-conscious eaters have come into contact with quinoa, most of us would have never heard of other foods such as oca, isaño, papalisa, cañahua, and tarwi. This is because these crops have traditionally been excluded by developed countries’ agricultural research and conservation activities for a number of reasons.

Firstly, past and present efforts have aimed at increasing yields and productivity of a narrow set of crops suited to high-input, high-output farming, focusing on grains like rice, wheat, and maize, which produce more than half of the global food energy needs. Indigenous crop varieties are simply less commercially viable and thus remain relatively invisible. They are rarely sold for money, but are instead consumed directly by poor, rural people that grow them in order to meet their own families’ nutrition needs. The likes of oca, tarwi, and papalisa are thus relatively unknown outside rural areas; the demand for them in urban and international markets is scarce, and commercialization is difficult. Read More »

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