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
Vision is essential for the survival of most animal species and tears provide potentially life-saving protection for the eyes. A new first-of-its-kind study looks at the composition of bird and reptile tears and compares these findings to human tears. These results provide clues about tear evolution, as well as potential starting points for better eye […]
To enhance the number of beneficial insect species in agricultural land, preserving semi-natural habitats and promoting crop diversity are both needed, according to new research published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied of Ecology.
Robot technology is being used more and more in health rehabilitation and in working life. Exoskeletons are one technology with great potential. But this technology is often developed for the average person. So what about people who are small and thin, or tall and overweight?
Researchers at the University of Basel in collaboration with colleagues from Pisa have developed a new concept that uses the electron spin to switch an electrical current. In addition to fundamental research, such spin valves are also the key elements in spintronics -- a type of electronics that exploits the spin instead of the charge […]
(The MIT Press) In 'Democratizing Our Data,' Julia Lane argues that good data are essential for democracy. Her book is a wake-up call to America to fix its broken public data system. The book is on sale 9/1/2020 from The MIT PRESS.
(University of Colorado Denver) In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.
(Northern Arizona University) NAU assistant professor Amanda De La Torre is looking across the whole sugar pine genome for methylated sites that are translated through the RNA and expressed through the plant's reaction to the fungus. Through an $810,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, De La Torre is collaborating with assistant […]
(Dickinson College) New research on the popularity of Congress members' Instagram posts reveals some surprising factors at play that could elevate their influence on the platform and make for more effective campaigns.
(Norwegian University of Science and Technology) A study that asked children to assess three different robots showed that they responded most positively to simple robots shaped like flower pots, and were most sceptical of Pepper the robot, which looks more human.
(American College of Cardiology) The ACC Quality Summit 2020 Virtual, Oct. 8-9, 2020, will deliver best practices through education sessions, networking and posters. This year's ACC Quality Summit Virtual will focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in the health care environment; providing leadership tactics to improve patient outcomes and cost savings; achieving advanced quality efforts […]
(Boston Medical Center) Boston Medical Center's Grayken Center for Addiction has received a five-year, $3.7 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand its fellowship programs in addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry. Effective July 1, this grant supports the training of 48 fellows to specialize in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry, who […]
(Hamilton College) Humans are not the only social animal struggling with new infectious diseases. This review examines the behavioral responses to emerging diseases across the animal kingdom from frogs and wolves to lobsters, bats, and humans. The paper also addresses whether or not technology helps when it comes to dealing with humans and social distancing.
(Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) Neuroscientists at EPFL and the University of Edinburgh have discovered that the degree of motivation and the stamina to keep it up depends on the ratio between the neurotransmitters glutamine and glutamate in the nucleus accumbens of the brain.
(University of Zurich) A trusting therapeutic relationship and outcome-oriented collaboration between therapist and patient are critical for the successful treatment of mental illness. And it pays to start early in therapy, a series of meta-studies by a task force of the American Psychological Association (APA) led by UZH psychology professor Christoph Flueckiger shows.
(Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics) To understand language, we have to remember the words that were uttered and combine them into an interpretation. How does the brain retain information long enough to accomplish this, despite the fact that neuronal firing events are very short-lived? Hartmut Fitz from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and his […]
(American Osteopathic Association) Excessive opioid prescriptions following childbirth may lead to higher rates of addiction within communities, according to a new report in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
(University of California - Riverside) A research team led by scientists at the University of California, Riverside, has outlined how the Zika virus, which constituted an epidemic threat in 2016, suppresses the immune system of its host. The work provides valuable structural and functional information on the interaction between ZIKV and its host and offers […]
(University of Missouri-Columbia) More than 380,000 babies are born prematurely in the United States each year, according to the March of Dimes. 'Preemies' can be severely underweight babies and struggle to get the nutrients they need from breast milk alone, so neonatal intensive care units provide an additional milk fortifier, either in the form of […]