By Chase Sova and Andy Jarvis.

The role of agriculture has been the subject of serious debate at each of the last global climate change conferences. The most recent event, held in Poland this past December, offered no exception. Chants of “No agriculture, no deal” resonated along the Warsaw Stadium hallways, backed by a host of government, civil society and private sector actors.

Agriculture contributes to approximately 30% of total global green house gas (GHG) emissions when related deforestation and post-production steps are considered. Its treatment by the international community is thus of major consequence, both for mitigation and adaptation outcomes. Yet agricultural mitigation targets — and a binding agreement to back them — continue to be plagued by sticky issues around national security, terms of trade, and climate justice.

Most actors in the international arena have acknowledged the immediate and urgent adaptation needs of nearly 1.5 billion small-scale producers and have promised action. In fact, the world has become a testing ground for adaptation policies and projects in nearly all sectors.

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A new paper by Lindsay Turnbull shows that organic farming increases species richness by about 30%.

The study was a meta-analysis that compared biodiversity under organic and conventional farming methods, mainly in Europe and North America. The authors note that more studies need to be carried in the Developing World to see if the same results would apply.

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By Lindsay Turnbull, University of Oxford

Organic farming is a trade off: it prohibits the use of certain chemicals and inorganic fertilisers, which usually results in lower yields, and hence higher prices. With arguments about health benefits inconclusive, one might ask what reasons there are to pay the organic premium.

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Mike Rayner and David Stuckler were interviewed in a recent episode of Dispatches on Channel 4, which asked the question: "are we addicted to sugar?"

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By Jessica Thorn, Biodiversity Institute in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

With the closing of COP19 in Warsaw last month, some may be disappointed that negotiating parties put a hard stop around negotiating adaptation to climate change  for agriculture and land use. Rather than reaching concrete political commitments now, debates remain around what should be done for policy and science in the future. Considering the complex difficulties in bridging gaps between what is and what should be, it is not surprising that the burden will be continue fall on 2.5 billion people depending on subsistence agriculture. This only highlights the utility of considering the future for action now.

Jessica Thorn, of the Systemic Integrated Adaptation program of CCAFS (Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security) reports on an impact evaluation study that was conducted in Nepal in recent months. Her research assesses the impact of adaptations to land management of smallholders on ecosystem processes, goods, and services. And many of the themes that arise hone in on cooperation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing to develop more sustainable solutions.

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by Laura Pereira

Laura attended the 3rd Global Conference on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security and Climate Change, held in South Africa in December 2013. Here are her thoughts and reflections on the conference.

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The Oxford Global Food Security Forum presents

Food Security Research: Critical Perspectives and Marginalized Issues

The 3rd Annual Oxford Student Global Food Security Conference

Date: Saturday May 3, 2014

Location: University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Abstracts of no more than 500 words by January 15, 2014, sent to:
oxford.food.forum.2014@gmail.com

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The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have come together under the auspices of the Global Food Security programme, to jointly fund four to six research grants relating to understanding the challenges of the food system. Joint funding of up to £1.87 million at 100 per cent full economic costing (fEC) is available for this call.

Read the full details of this call on the ESRC website.

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The Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food Lecture 2013 is now available to listen to on our website.

The lecture was given by Professor Susan Jebb was entitled "Food, Health And The Environment: Towards A More Sustainable Diet".

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By Hannah Rowlands.

We were honoured to have Professor Susan Jebb present our first annual lecture on November 27, 2013.

Professor Susan Jebb is a nutrition scientist, but recognises that dietary advice for consumers needs to optimise health within the constraints of a sustainable food supply.

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