Food and Agriculture

We need to fix our broken food system—and science can help us do it. UCS food experts highlight solutions to ensure that every American has access to healthy, green, fair, affordable food.


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Latest Food and Agriculture Posts

North Carolina hog CAFO in Hurricane Florence floodwaters, September 18, 2018. Photo: Larry Baldwin, Crystal Coast Waterkeeper/Waterkeeper Alliance

In a Warming World, Carolina CAFOs Are a Disaster for Farmers, Animals, and Public Health

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, I’ve joined millions who’ve watched with horror as the Carolinas have been inundated with floodwaters and worried about the various hazards those waters can contain. We’ve seen heavy metal-laden coal ash spills, a nuclear plant go on alert (thankfully without incident), and sewage treatment plants get swamped. But the biggest and most widely reported hazard associated with Florence appears to be the hog waste that is spilling from many of the state’s thousands of CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), and which threatens lasting havoc on public health and the local economy.

And while the state’s pork industry was already under fire for its day-to-day impacts on the health and quality of life of nearby residents, Florence has laid bare the lie that millions of animals and their copious waste can be safely concentrated in flood-prone coastal areas like southeastern North Carolina. Read more >

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Crops and livestock integrated in a regenerative agricultural system. Photo: Farmland LP

Here’s What Agriculture of the Future Looks Like: The Multiple Benefits of Regenerative Agriculture Quantified

, director, Food & Environment Program

At the Union of Concerned Scientists, we have long advocated agricultural systems that are productive and better for the environment, the economy, farmers, farmworkers and eaters than the dominant industrial system. We refer to such a system as our Healthy Farm vision. Based on comprehensive science, we have specified that healthy farm systems must be multifunctional, biodiverse, interconnected and regenerative. Read more >

Photo: Farmland LP
Graphic: Our World In Data.
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Photo: grobery/CC BY SA 2.0 (Flickr)

What’s for Dinner? A Preview of the People, Process, and Politics Updating Federal Dietary Guidelines

, Food Systems & Health Analyst

Months behind schedule, two federal departments have officially kicked off the process for writing the 2020-2025 iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Updated and reissued every five years, these guidelines are the nation’s most comprehensive and authoritative set of nutrition recommendations. And although the process is meant to be science-based and support population health—and has historically done so, with some notable exceptions—there are plenty of reasons to believe that the Trump administration is preparing to pitch a few curveballs.

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Photo: grobery/CC BY SA 2.0 (Flickr)
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Photo: Brazilian things/Wikimedia Commons

Amazon Deforestation in Brazil: What Does it Mean When There’s no Change?

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

I was recently invited by the editors of the journal Tropical Conservation Science to write an update of a 2013 article on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon that I had published with Sarah Roquemore and Estrellita Fitzhugh. They asked me to review how deforestation has changed over the past five years. The most notable result, as you can see from the graph in the just-published article (open-access), is that overall it hasn’t changed. And that’s actually quite surprising.

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Photo: Brazilian things/Wikimedia Commons
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Why the Farm Bill Should Invest in Agroecology Research: An Interview with Dr. Selena Ahmed

, senior Washington representative, Food & Environment

Recently, the 2018 farm bill—the massive federal legislative package that shapes our country’s food and agriculture system—cleared a major hurdle, as both the House and Senate voted to begin negotiations toward a compromise bill. This process is important for many reasons, including how it will impact the US Department of Agriculture’s $3 billion annual investment in research to help the nation’s farmers and eaters alike. Read more >

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