Latest in an occasional series of articles about food issues of interest to consumers collated by Consumers SA Executive Committee member Elaine Attwood.

The climate crisis is already hitting food production: an urgent system–wide response is needed.

Feeding a future global population of 10 billion people without causing a climate catastrophe this century will require transformational change across the entire value chain. Fresh evidence suggests climate change is already impacting crop yields. Climate change presents various threats to human and planetary health. Not least among these are the risks to food and nutrition security. The issue was flagged by a recent far–reaching report from the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC.)  According to the report, which surveyed a “large body” of independent studies on the health implications of climate change, global warming is already having an adverse impact on human health and risks are only projected to increase.

 Current trends in greenhouse gas emissions point to a global average temperature rise of more than 3°C above pre-–industrial levels by the end of the century, well above the maximum 2°C target enshrined in the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The temperature rise will be higher over land than oceans, exposing people to “unprecedented” rates of climate change and contributing to the burden of disease and premature death, EASAC  noted.

A new study led by the University of Minnesota in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the University of Copenhagen presents fresh evidence that this is already happening. Researchers looked at yields of barley, cassava, maize, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane and wheat, which account for 83% of the calories produced on arable land. They found that changes in climatic conditions are already impacting harvests.

Impacts varied by both crop type geography. The implications of climate change on global food production are mostly negative in Europe, Southern Africa, and Australia, generally positive in Latin America, and mixed in Asia and northern and central America, the researchers noted. Half of all food–insecure countries are experiencing decreases in crop production – and so are some affluent industrialised countries in Western Europe.

(The article goes on to present some solutions to the problem and makes for compelling reading)


Climate change has likely already affected global food production’: PLOS ONE : Published online ahead of print: 31 May, 2019


Authors: Deepak K. Ray, Paul C. West, Michael Clark, James S. Gerber, Alexander V., Prishchepov. Snigdhansu Chatterjee

 ‘Food and Earth Systems: Priorities for Climate Change Adaption and Mitigation for Agriculture and Food Systems’ Sustainability’

Published on line ahead of print: 5 March


Authors: Ana Maria Loboguerrero, Bruce M. Campbell, Peter J. Cooper, James W. Hansen, Todd Rosenstock and Eva Wollenberg

Author:  Katy  Askew

Credit:   © 2019 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.

 Red vs white meat for lower cholesterol? Clinical trial reveals ‘near identical’ results

 A study investigating the impact of different proteins on cholesterol levels has found that limiting total meat consumption – whether red or white – may play a greater role in lowering blood cholesterol than previously thought. Red meat consumption has been linked to cancer, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a higher risk of non-– alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Indeed, growing research linking non-– communicable diseases with red meat consumption has prompted a number of governments to recommend limiting the amount of red meat consumed per week in their dietary guidelines. In both natural and processed forms, red meat - more so than white meat – is also believed to contribute to high cholesterol. “The general perception has been that in controlling blood cholesterol levels, consuming white poultry meat is preferable to consuming red meat,” Professor of Medicine at the University of San Francisco, Ronald M Krauss, told FoodNavigator. However, data supporting this view is “somewhat incomplete”, Krauss continued. In fact until now, there has been no comprehensive comparison of the effects of red meat, white meat, and plant – based proteins on “bad” low–density lipoprotein(LDL)cholesterol levels. “So our study specifically tested whether consuming equal amounts of red meat and white meat had different effects on blood cholesterol.” Results suggested that limiting total meat consumption – whether red or white – may have a greater impact on lowering blood cholesterol levels than previously believed. The findings support dietary recommendations to adopt dietary patterns with high vegetable content, but that “do not provide evidence for choosing white over red meat for reducing CVD risk on the basis of plasma lipid and lipoprotein effects”.

 Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Published online 4 June 2019

‘Effects of red meat, white meat, and nonmeat protein on atherogenic Lipoprotein measure in the context of low compared with high saturated fat intake: a randomized controlled trial’

 DOI: 10.1093 ajcn/nqz035

Authors: Nathalie Bergeron, Sally Chiu, Paul T Williams, Sarah M King, Ronald M Krauss.


Author: Flora Southey

Credit:  © 2019 - William Reed Business Media Ltd

 Gene Technology: GM Golden rice must be vacuum packed to retain beta-carotene.

 The Vitamin A precursor beta-carotene is only present at low levels in GM Golden Rice, when compared to carrots and green leafy vegetables. But it rapidly degrades to even lower levels when the rice is stored after harvest, a new study by Indian scientists have found. After just six months of storage in the presence of air, even at the low refrigerated temperature of 4°C, the beta–carotene degraded by around 68 to 79%. The scientists concluded that the best way to preserve the beta-carotene content of the GM golden rice was to vacuum packet as Paddy (rice with the whole left on) – though no one eats rice in this form. Under these conditions, at 25°C, just over half (54%) of the beta-carotene was retained, versus only around 20% under non-– vacuum packaging (air packaging) at the same temperature. All this means it’s not a practical solution to vitamin A deficiency in the developing world.

 First cancer lawsuit  over weedkiller Roundup filed in Australia:

 A Melbourne gardener has launched legal action against Bayer in the first Australian case to link cancer with popular weedkiller Roundup.  Michael Ogalirolo, 54, was diagnosed in 2011 with non-– Hodgkinson lymphoma, after more than 18 years of exposure to Roundup.

 Credit and Source:

GMWatch Review 403

8 June, 2019

 Note:  For full texts of the articles above please see references.

AuthorRay Dennis