UK’s post-Brexit farm policy could see reintroduction of border controls in Ireland

The latest briefing paper from University of Reading Emeritus Professor Alan Swinbank suggests that while Brexit offers the UK an opportunity to design a more efficient agricultural policy that would benefit farmers and the environment, this new policy could have possible implications for consumer prices and will have to conform to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. The paper will be presented at a UK Policy Trade Observatory (UKTPO) event at Chatham House organised by the University of Sussex.

Can the ‘greening’ be greener?

The EU introduced the new “greening” instrument into the Common Agricultural Policy in 2015, with the intention to slow the rapid loss of biodiversity in agricultural areas. The idea is quite simple: in return to the subsidies they receive, farmers must now implement measures to protect wild animals and plants on their land. A group of scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the University of Göttingen and other German, Austrian and French institutions examined how effective the flagship greening measure called “Ecological Focus Areas” actually is. Their conclusions, now published in the scientific journal Conservation Letters, are sobering: Ecological Focus Areas are implemented in a way that provides little benefit for biodiversity or farmers, and yet come at a high price to tax payers. However, there are many possibilities to improve the measure for the benefit of all sides.

Insects feel the heat: Scientists reveal rise in temperature affects ability to reproduce

With 2016 set to be the warmest year on record, scientists have discovered insects are already feeling the effects of climate change, as a rise in temperature is shown to damage their ability to reproduce.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Sheffield, found that being exposed to mild heat as a juvenile negatively affects their chances of producing offspring as an adult.

Worries about food waste appear to vanish when diners know scraps go to compost

Diners waste far less food when they’re schooled on the harm their leftovers can inflict on the environment. But if they know the food is going to be composted instead of dumped in a landfill, the educational benefit disappears.

When composting enters the picture, educated diners waste just as much as those who haven’t learned about shrinking landfill space, dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and water and soil pollution, a new study found.

Study provides evidence on movement of potato famine pathogen

New research from North Carolina State University (NC State; USA) delves into the movement and evolution of the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, which set down roots in the United States before attacking Europe.

Quarter of a million tonnes of food could be saved with better logistics

Each year, around 88 million tonnes of food is discarded in the EU. This is something that Kristina Liljestrand, researcher at Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), wants to do something about. She is now giving companies in the food supply chain specific tools that can reduce both food waste and the environmental impact of food transport.