P3FC - Articles and news items

A border crossing debate for a viable planet

Issue 6 2011  •  4 January 2012  •  Hugo de Vries, Director of the Joint Research Centre on Biopolymers and Emerging Technologies, INRA

There is only one earth, a planet inhabited by a wide range of living organisms. There is only one primary energy source, the sun. Thanks to the sun, the earth is able to renew its resources on a temporal basis. Some may describe this as a cyclic process. However, a better visual presentation may be a spiral, including both development capabilities of living species and self-organisation of the ecosystem as a whole to avoid non-reversible steps into the chaotic regime.

The earth and sun determine our playing field and its boundary conditions. They allow us to play a variety of games to challenge and please us. The number of games is large, but not unlimited. How large? That depends on our creativity and passion to play. However, we have realised that the number may decrease if we don’t respect the playing field and boundary conditions. An example of the latter is for example the continuous rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations due to our daily requests for more energy. Sea levels may rise and weather conditions may change more rapidly and extremely; con sequently, this will restrict us to where to live and what to do.

Safe food and prosperity for people and the planet: What can we do now?

Issue 5 2011  •  1 November 2011  •  Dr. Katherine Flynn, Lead Editor, People, Planet, Prosperity and the Food Chain

Huub Lelieveld and I first discussed People, Planet, Prosperity and the Food Chain when we found we were the only two vegetarians at a fixed plate dinner where the main course was chicken. Soon we were discussing the need for a 360 degree paradigm shift in the way not only individuals but also businesses and governments think and act around all aspects of food. We used to say ‘from the farm to the fork’, but that’s not wide enough because food starts before the farm, e.g., seed production, and finishes after the fork e.g., food waste, so this paradigm shift has a lot to cover. The food industry, as the leading manufacturing sector in Europe, is in a venerable position capable of changes that can influence people and policy for years to come.

According to recent articles in the popular press, the food industry is a villain responsible for foodrelated horrors, hurting individuals, the society and the planet by, for example, promoting childhood obesity with ads for sugary foods, putting small producers out of business by making cheap products in large centralised plants, poisoning the planet with genetically modified crops and even harming future generations by using chemicals which will accumulate in organisms and in the environment.


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