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Weekly Overview: Food Security Returns to Top of International Agenda

23 January 2014

GLOBAL - Food security has returned to the international political agenda at the Green Week meeting in the German capital. The country's Agriculture Minister called for global action on the maintenance of biodiversity as well as on tackling hunger and malnutrition. As they watch the Super Bowl final on 2 February, it is estimated that Americans will consume 1.25 billion chicken wings. It's good that chicken is the meat with the lowest environmental impact and that it's also nutritious, writes Jackie Linden.

An international call has been made for closer links between agricultural and food policies in the fight against global hunger.

Speaking at the agricultural ministers' conference during Green Week in Berlin, the German Federal Minister of Agriculture, Dr Hans Peter Friedrich, said that it was not enough to only look at the output volumes.

Dr Friedrich called for the preservation of agricultural diversity and the conservation of resources worldwide.

"Preserving agricultural diversity is not a luxury; it is a matter of survival. Plant varieties, once lost, cannot be recovered. We must therefore conserve our genetic resources worldwide on a permanent basis and make better use of them," he said.

Dr Friedrich added that it was not just hunger that was the problem but also malnutrition caused by an unbalanced diet.

Research by the publicly-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap), has estimated that British families throw away the equivalent of six meals a week in food waste.

And on the subject of chicken consumption, Americans are set to eat 1.25 billion chicken wings for Super Bowl XLVIII, which takes place on Sunday 2 February, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Buffalo Wings and the end of the 'Great Wing Shortage' of 2013.

To put that into perspective, if 1.25 billion wing segments were laid end to end, they would stretch from CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (home of Super Bowl XLVIII) - 30 times.

Researchers in Australia are hoping to make a breakthrough in animal welfare. Scientists at Charles Sturt University are attempting to develop a new chicken line whose eggs glow differently under ultra-violet light so that male embryos can be identified. If successful, this work will see an end to incubating unwanted males and the need to destroy them after hatching.

Finally, turning to bird flu news, China has reported two deaths of human patients from H7N9 avian flu in Shanghai in the last week, while there have been confirmed cases in the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian and Guangdong this year. Kenya is now also on bird flu alert, based on the frequent movement of people and services to and from China as a result of the ongoing construction of new roads in Kenya.

In South Korea, a duck farm in the west of the country has been hit by a new strain of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (A) virus, H5N8. Another new virus in circulation - in addition to H5N1 and H7N9 - does increase the risk of a pandemic strain developing sooner or later.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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