Can we end world hunger by 2030? Thanks to a new program, the data for it is all there.
- An international team of researchers has released a series of studies geared towards ending world hunger.
- They are thought to be some of the first people to use Evidence Synthesis for agricultural data.
- Their ideas could increase food production and lower poverty for a low cost, regardless if they meet their lofty goal.
Who are these people?<p> Headquartered at Cornell University, <a href="https://ceres2030.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ceres2030 </a>is a collective project involving people from around the world. It is financed in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. <br> <br> The enterprise includes more than 70 researchers from 23 different countries with the best information available on what works to reduce <a href="https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/10/cornell-unites-science-and-policy-end-hunger" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hunger</a>. These researchers are divided into eight teams, each covering a separate subject area. Each group reviews the literature and combines it into a general review which can be used to inform policy <a href="https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/10/cornell-unites-science-and-policy-end-hunger" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decisions</a>. </p>
What do they want us to do?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/D1eFcqZE3xU" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> The analysis shows that many studies agree on the benefits of a few, straightforward initiatives. Among these findings are game-changing ideas <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41477-020-00795-9" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">like</a>:<br> <br> Farmer's organizations help their members increase both their incomes and crop yields. Membership was linked with higher incomes in nearly 60 percent of studies, and benefits to crop yields were demonstrated in a quarter. These organizations play a part in helping farmers adopt modern techniques, tools, and crop types to help implement other policy suggestions. Assisting people in joining them can have a tremendous impact on their lives.</p><p>In the middle and lower-income countries, nearly three-quarters of small farmers live and work in areas where water is scarce. The vast majority of these farms do not have an irrigation system to speak of. Output and income could both be increased by addressing this infrastructure issue. Helping farmers switch to more climate change and drought-resistant crops and introduce new and improved livestock sources, both as sources of labor and food, can improve productivity and keep people resilient in the face of climate change. </p><p>These are just a handful of the ideas Ceres2030 endorse in their press releases. In each case, they point to piles of data showing the effectiveness of these ideas in increasing incomes, crop yields, and small producers' resiliency in the face of threats such as climate change. It could cost roughly 14 billion dollars more a year in aid to do it, about twice as much as we are spending on the problem now, alongside new investments by the governments of nations most plagued by <a href="https://ceres2030.org/shorthand_story/donors-must-double-aid-to-end-hunger-and-spend-it-wisely/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hunger</a>. </p><p>All of these ideas can be implemented tomorrow; many places have already done these things. It is only a matter of deciding to do it. Some of the findings and ideas are even simpler than these, including discovering that we <a href="https://osf.io/6zc92/" target="_blank">waste a lot of food</a> and that simple solutions can prevent much of it. <br><br>More information on their ideas and how they came to their conclusions can be found on the Ceres2030 <a href="https://ceres2030.org/" target="_blank">website</a>. <br></p>
Will this work?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9CdZSakEqBU" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> It might. <br> <br> The findings and recommendations are based on extensive research, histories of successful implementation elsewhere, and a sincere desire to use evidence to help people. Following them would lead to better-informed farmers making more money while sustainably growing more food. The recommendations are neither one-size-fits-all, nor are they overly specific to the point where they cannot be <a href="https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/10/cornell-unites-science-and-policy-end-hunger" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">generalized</a>. <br> <br> There are also plenty of reasons to be pessimistic. A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7015855/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> published this year in Nature argues that we will not be able to end world hunger by 2030. It takes the stance that some countries with endemic malnourishment are unlikely to reach their development targets for 2025, let alone the more ambitious goals for 2030. <br> <br> The costs of not at least making progress on this front are very high. Without progress, an additional 100 million people could end up both hungry and mired in extreme poverty by the end of the decade, according to an <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/07/global-hunger-rising-food-agriculture-organization-report/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">estimate</a> by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some regression already, as economic difficulty leads to empty bellies. <br> <br> The entirety of human history has been marked by attempts to produce enough food for everybody, and it is only recently (relatively speaking) that we've managed to do that. Today, we grow enough food for 10 billion people but seem to have difficulty getting it to the people who need it most. The suggestions of the Ceres2030 team, if followed, offer the chance to finally rid the world of hunger and famine for less than $50 per currently malnourished person per year. <br> <br> It's only a question of doing it. Let's see if we want to. </p>
Declining bee populations could lead to increased food insecurity and economic losses in the billions.
From bee to farm to table<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTUzOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NzM3MDkwNH0.coXBXgDBoRvXaZYIgKaH9fH_jhlUKp3O22-h2rY8jMQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="a317b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bd61c660c9d52353ba975145fab59625" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1569" data-height="628" />
A bar graph showing the percentage of pollination limitation for the seven crops studied.
Ecological and edible incentives<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTUzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTM4NzQwMX0.vclSktT0d_Mvns_QTZ7ZkFT_pWgIIpyb6ZNP1Tla2Qs/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C215%2C0%2C215&height=700" id="f15a3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b1e5b70e616daf5fcc0a63a041675e7a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="hand holding dead bees" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
A protester shows a handful of bees that died by pesticides. The protest was held during the Bayer AG shareholder meeting in 2019.
(PhooMaja Hitiji/Getty Images)<p>The concern extends beyond these seven. Crops such as coffee, avocados, lemons, limes, and oranges are also highly dependent on pollinators and may prove pollination limited. If declining bee populations are tied to such yields, it could mean barer supermarket shelves and increased prices. While that may only be an annoyance to some, to poor and vulnerable communities who already struggle to secure <a href="https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2011/december/data-feature-mapping-food-deserts-in-the-us/" target="_blank">salubrious, affordable food</a>, such a deficit would present another barrier to the vital micronutrients necessary for a healthy life and diet.</p><p>Unfortunately, <a href="http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/54228/1/Science_1255957_Goulson_RV_revised_CA_edited.pdf" target="_blank">the threats to bees are numerous</a>. Parasites, agrochemicals, monoculture farming, and habitat degradation all play a role, and neither stressor works in isolation. Sublethal exposure to neonicotinoids, an insecticide, can cause <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/baby-bees-and-pesticides" target="_self">impairments in bees</a>, while monoculture farming serves up a monotonous and unhealthy floral buffet. Both impede bees' immune systems, rendering them vulnerable to parasites such as <a href="http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/bees/varroa_mite.htm" target="_blank"><em>Varroa destructor</em></a>, a mite that can transmit debilitating viruses as it feeds on bees' fat bodies. And all of these stressors will likely be inflamed by climate change in the years to come. </p><p>Some have proffered mechanical solutions, such as Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology where technicians are developing <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2120832-robotic-bee-could-help-pollinate-crops-as-real-bees-decline/" target="_blank">robotic bees</a>. These micro-drones are covered in gelled horsehair and have successfully cross-pollinated Japanese lilies. Other experiments include <a href="https://www.capitalpress.com/ag_sectors/orchards_nuts_vines/pollen-spray-could-replace-honeybees/article_f9a1c102-d5b3-519d-9dab-b0c44cfb99c5.html" target="_blank">pollen sprays</a>. However, the large-scale viability of tech-centric solutions seems questionable. After all, wild bees currently perform their ecological services pro bono and are as effective as managed honeybees. Any technological solution implemented in their absence would add to the agricultural costs and likely increase prices anyway.</p><p>Ecological amelioration will be necessary. To combat habitat fragmentation and strengthen biodiversity, many cities are implementing green-way strategies. For example, the Dutch city of Utrecht has decked its bus stop roofs with plants and grasses to <a href="https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/urban-bees?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1" target="_self">create bee and butterfly shelters</a>, while other cities are looking to foster <a href="https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2020/0731/Can-roadsides-offer-a-beeline-for-pollinators" target="_blank">bee-friend roadsides</a>. And <a href="https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/2015/CRPProgramsandInitiatives/Honey_Bee_Habitat_Initiative.pdf" target="_blank">government initiatives</a> incentivize farmers and landowners to adopt bee-friendly management practices. These solutions aren't only a matter of ecological conservation but also food security and public health.</p>
The study was only conducted with already healthy men, however.
- A new study at the University of Bath found that binge eating on occasion doesn't have major metabolic consequences.
- 14 healthy young men were instructed to eat pizza until full or to keep going until they couldn't eat another bite.
- Their blood sugar levels were similar to having eaten normally and blood lipids levels were only slightly higher than normal.
Marion Nestle: Why Do We Overeat?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a4fbcf29b074691a19c6b391813e48f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Qn8XjZQa5-0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lead researcher Aaron Hengist <a href="https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/all-you-can-eat-pizza-study-shows-body-copes-surprisingly-well-with-one-off-calorie-indulgence/" target="_blank">says</a> the results showed the resilience of our body during times of excess.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Our findings show that the body actually copes remarkably well when faced with a massive and sudden calorie excess. Healthy humans can eat twice as much as 'full' and deal effectively with this huge initial energy surplus."</p><p>Of course, these were all young, healthy men, which will skew the outcome. Still, they expected more of a metabolic impact. </p><p>The researchers also focused on mood. Four hours after eating maximally, overeaters had no desire to eat sweet foods. This contradicts previous research that shows the brain's reward centers are food-specific—pizza shouldn't change cravings for sweets. The overeating groups also felt lethargic after their binge, which is to be expected. </p><p>The researchers are not giving a pass for overeating. Caloric intake remains the main driver of obesity. Signaling hormones are altered with continued overeating, making it difficult for the obese to know when to stop. Regular overeating changes body composition, metabolic rates, and mood. </p><p>In the past, humans had to stock up on food when they found it while hunting and foraging. We are equipped to handle the occasional caloric overload. James Betts, who was also involved in the study, says that an occasional binge for healthy people is not necessarily a bad thing. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This study shows that if an otherwise healthy person overindulges occasionally, for example eating a large buffet meal or Christmas lunch, then there are no immediate negative consequences in terms of losing metabolic control."</p><p>Acknowledging the study's limitations of age, health, and gender of participants, the researchers are planning on investigating the metabolic and mood effects of operating on women, obese volunteers, and the elderly. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
A new wearable patch has been created at the University of California San Diego.
- A team at the University of California San Diego has developed a non-invasive skin patch that measures your vitamin C levels.
- An electrode sensor measures vitamin C in your sweat.
- The researchers hope this leads to the development of multivitamin patches that track nutritional deficiencies.
No, Vitamin C won't cure your cold<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="686c485816ed1e51b96f906837934bcc"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/smQC3CXalVg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Julian Sempionatto, first author of a <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acssensors.0c00604" target="_blank">study</a> regarding this sensor, remarks, "This is the first demonstration of using an enzyme-based approach to track changes in the level of a necessary vitamin, and opens a new frontier in the wearable device arena."</p><p>The design is simple: an adhesive patch stimulates sweating. An electrode sensor measures vitamin C levels in your sweat. According to research on four human subjects who had taken vitamin C supplements or drank fruit juices, the sensor is highly sensitive. It detects small changes in vitamin levels over the course of two hours. The same sensor could also detect changes in tears and saliva. </p><p>Sempionatto believes the biomedical wearables industry is just beginning. He envisions a multivitamin patch in the near future. The study was conducted in Joseph Wang's lab at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Wang believes this is an important development in nutrition and health.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I hope that the new epidermal patch will facilitate the use of wearable sensors for non-invasive nutrition status assessments and tracking of nutrient uptake toward detecting and correcting nutritional deficiencies, assessing adherence to vitamin intake, and supporting dietary behavior change."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>
What you eat — and when — can make you superhuman.
- The importance of the microbiome has really come to the fore in the last five years. Viome, a company that analyzed the feces of 100,000 people, has discovered 10,000 new types of gut bacteria.
- Additionally, Improved imaging technology led scientists to discover you don't have just one microbiome, you have two. The second one is in your brain, populated by the same bacteria that live in your gut.
- Simple habits can foster healthy gut and brain bacteria, which can help you live longer and age more slowly. Eat mostly vegetables, take fiber and prebiotics, and practice intermittent fasting, says Dave Asprey.