Addressing food insecurity in the digital age New technologies are changing agricultural production, but can they help address food insecurity? Shutterstock Laxmi Pant, University of Guelph In the search for food — whether through foraging, hunting or agriculture — we are constantly at war with nature. In addition, food is distributed unequally: over 800 million people experience hunger while two billion are overweight or obese. Successive industrial revolutions have defined who we are and what we eat. In the mid-18th century, steam engines, railways and mechanized agriculture changed the ways food was produced and transported. The Second Industrial Revolution, in the mid-19th century, brought electrical grids, assembly lines and mass production. Job loss happened in agriculture, while employment in the manufacturing and service sector grew. In the United States, for instance, 90 per cent of people worked on farms at the beginning of the 19th century, but now it is… Continue reading
Agriculture is a unique sector for a just transition. (Shutterstock) Laxmi Pant, University of Guelph Agriculture has become a carbon-intensive endeavour. Crop, livestock and fossil fuel use in agriculture account for about 25 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At the same time, more than 800 million people around the world are hungry and two billion are overweight or obese. About 30 per cent of food is lost or wasted, and yet we need 70 per cent more food to feed 10 billion people by 2050. If we produce more food, in the same ways we have been, GHGs from agriculture will only rise. To introduce further complexity, the agriculture sector must reduce 20 to 30 per cent of its emissions to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping the average increase in global temperature 2°C below the pre-industrial levels. Already, climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable people across… Continue reading
New and emerging technologies may ignite controversy in society. The following are some examples: (1) Boundaries of life: abortion, euthanasia; (2) Animal rights: handling of animals, testing on animals, use of animals in the cosmetic industry and for medical research; (3) Genetic engineering: cloning, GMOs, stem cells; (4) Physical engineering: robotics, drones, drone bees, nanotechnology, nuclear power; and (5) Synthetic biology: synthetic meat. Why are these technologies controversial? Some would jump to a conclusion that the public is ignorant of science and increasing science literacy can address at least some of the problems. Others do not necessarily agree with this deficit model of public engagement in science that assume science is apolitical and free human values and emotions. Many of them believe in ‘citizen science’, which is also called public engagement in science or crowdsourcing scientific research, to address science and technology controversies. A recent book entitled The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science,… Continue reading
Canada’s Fundamental Science Review recommends legislation to create a new National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation (NACRI) to provide broad oversight of the federal research and innovation ecosystems. NACRI will have to replace the current external advisory body, the Science, Technology, and Innovation Council (STIC), as it has no independent reporting authority and a constrained disciplinary mandate. The Review acknowledges the imminent appointment of a new Chief Science Advisor (CSA) for Canada as a major step forward. NACRI is expected to work closely with CSA. NACRI’s major responsibilities would be as follows. advice to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on federal spending as well as broad goals and priorities for research and innovation; improving the coordination and strategic alignment of different elements of federal support for research and innovation; evaluation of the overall performance of the extramural research enterprise; public reporting and outreach on matters determined by the Council;… Continue reading
We are witnessing disruptive innovations from agriculture to health care, education, governance and community services. However, not all innovations are socially and environmentally responsible. We have seen accessibility and adaptability concerns for many modern agricultural technologies among smallholder farms across the world. The problem of digital divide has been identified in developing as well as developed and emerging countries, albeit at a different scale.
Scholars have suggested measures, such as anticipation, inclusion, reflexivity and responsiveness, in the engagement processes to make innovations more responsible. Now there are journals dedicated to responsible innovation, http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tjri20
This video from the Engage2020 explains Europian initiatives on responsible innovation.
In a recent journal article, we have integrated latest approaches to assess social and technological change, which are known respectively as ‘reflexive learning’ and ‘reflexive governance’. This paper contextualises the integrated framework of reflexive interactive assessment using case studies of broadband access and use among small businesses and community organisations from the first release areas of the heavily invested high-speed broadband network known as EORN (Eastern Ontario Regional Network) in Canada. Highlights from the paper are as follows. • Broadband technology assessment involves aspects of social as well as technical change. • This paper develops a hybrid methodology — reflexive interactive assessment — integrating program assessment and technology assessment. • We have used this methodology to assess a major Canadian rural broadband investment program. • Findings suggest that broadband Internet is an essential service for regional and rural innovation. • Early evidence shows that broadband Internet potentially facilitates transitions to… Continue reading
Book Review: Responsive Countryside: The Digital Age and Rural Communities, by Roberto Gallardo. (2016). Published by Mississippi State University Extension Service Intelligent Community Institute. Available as Kindle; 174 pages. Publisher’s website: http://ici.msucares.com/publications Gallardo’s book is one of the few recent texts available on the topic of digital rural economy. In this regard, the book has made an important contribution to digitally engaged rural community development. Continue reading
We, at the Adaptive Transition Initiative, agree with Dr. Gallardo that intelligent communities (not smart communities) will generate regional and rural innovations and facilitate adaptive transitions in the digital age. He further argues that it would be imperative to address the rural digital divide revisiting extension theory and practice with a focus on asset building (also called ABCD – asset based community development).
Global warming provides risks to ecosystems, food security and sustainable development. Climate change adaptations would help to hold global warming less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels within this century. We identify adaptation as incremental and transformational. Transformational adaptation would address structural deficits, such as soil fertility decline, deforestation and biodiversity loss, and lack of income, education, health, and political power. Continue reading
UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers discovered gene expression patterns associated with pandemic viral infections, providing a map to help define patients' immune responses, measure disease severity, predict outcomes and test therapies -- for current and future pandemics.
Scientists found that the ability to fly is embedded in birds' spinal cords. The team closely examined the neural networks of chicken and mice embryos and discovered that the genetic coding of the ephrin-B3 molecule in birds is fundamentally different than those of mammals and reptiles.
(Impact Journals LLC) The importance of complex networks of heterotypic interactions between multiple distinct cell types (both malignant and normal) and regulatory circuits has now become widely recognized.
(University of South Australia) Children with documented child protection concerns are four times as likely to die before they reach their 16th birthday, according to confronting new research from the University of South Australia.
(Terry Collins Assoc) The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) launch a peer-reviewed report based on a 4-day virtual workshop on addressing the biodiversity and climate crises together involving 50 jointly-selected international experts.
(Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center) Scientists at Cincinnati Children's have been awarded a five-year grant totaling $2.8 million from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to develop an automated risk assessment (ARIA) system, which is designed to detect and prevent school violence.
(University of Helsinki) Climate change exerts great pressure for change on species and biodiversity. A recent study conducted by the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Environment Institute indicates that the few moth and butterfly species (Lepidoptera) capable of adjusting to a changing climate by advancing their flight period and moving further north have fared […]
(JAMA Network) Researchers examined the associations between Medicare Advantage star ratings, which are created using data from all enrollees in a plan, and disparities in care for racial/ethnic minorities and enrollees with lower income and less education.
(JAMA Network) What The Study Did: International medical graduates often practice as physicians in locations and specialties less preferred by U.S. medical graduates. This study reports on physician mortality from COVID-19, and on the mortality of international medical graduates in particular.
(Massachusetts General Hospital) Lab animals deficient in vitamin D crave and become dependent on opioids, which is curbed when normal levels of the vitamin are restored. Human health records indicate that people with low vitamin D are more likely to use and misuse opioids. Study results suggest a potential role for vitamin D supplementation in […]
(Bar-Ilan University) Inspired by people around the world who made music together while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from Bar-Ilan University and the University of Chicago fused the latest advances in social neuroscience and the field of music to highlight five key functions and mechanisms of the brain that contribute to social connection […]