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Agriculture

Carbon footprint of cardboard boxes outperforms plastic boxes when moving tomatoes internationally

Agricultural packaging impacts the environmental performance of food. This study compares the carbon footprint (CF), of two commonly used containers for international road transport of fruit and vegetables. The study assesses corrugated cardboard boxes (CCB) and polypropylene foldable boxes (PPB) in two different sizes, for a cradle-to-grave assessment of their environmental performance when used to transport tomatoes from Spain to Germany. <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/569na1_en-1313_lca-of-agricultural-tomato-packaging-boxes-for-climate-impact_v2.pdf">Click here to read more</a>

 
Monitoring soil functions and their interactions — a new pan-European framework

Sustainable soil is a foundation of environmental health, with soil offering a multitude of ecosystem services including climate mitigation and adaption, biodiversity, agriculture (food security) and nutrient cycling. This study offers a new framework for monitoring synergies and trade-offs of soil functions across Europe. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/559na2_en-monitoring-soil-functions-and-their-interactions-a-new-pan-european-framework.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Nanopesticides may have the potential to increase food production — but are they environmentally safe?

As the world’s population increases, so does the need for environmentally sustainable ways to increase food production. Nanopesticides are growing in popularity, as they appear able to achieve the same results as traditional agrochemicals when applied at lower amounts. However, regulatory and ecotoxicological research gaps remain. A literature review now identifies these gaps, and suggests the steps needed to enable sustainable nanopesticide use on a global scale. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/558na2_en-nanopesticides-may-have-the-potential-to-increase-food-production-but-are-they-environmentally-safe.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Bioreactors and wetlands: two-step solutions could support lagoon recovery in Spain

The Mar Menor coastal saltwater lagoon, in south-east Spain, is the largest such water body in the Mediterranean basin. The lagoon is experiencing a ‘eutrophication crisis’ as excess nutrients — largely nitrates, but also phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon — are washed into the lagoon from its surroundings. A study explores the Mar Menor’s nutrient inputs and evaluates the results of a two-step system including a <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/research-area/environment/nature-based-solutions_en">nature-based solution (NBS)</a>; an initiative that works with and enhances nature to address societal challenges. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/558na1_en-bioreactors-and-wetlands-two-step-solutions-could-support-lagoon-recovery-in-spain.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Heat tolerance found in sweet potato cultivars could protect food security from the effects of climate change

Food security is a growing concern as crop yields are threatened by increasing climatic variability — periods of excessively hot weather, or heatwaves, specifically. This study examines the crop diversity of the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) to understand which genetic variants flourish in response to climatic stress and to identify the crop traits that aid this success. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/557na3_en_heat-tolerance-found-in-sweet-potato-cultivars-could-protect-food-security-from-the-effects-of-climate-change.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Antibiotics: even low levels found in the environment might drive resistance

Researchers behind a new literature survey of antibiotic levels in the environment call for regulators to recognise antimicrobials as pollutants and to regulate them similarly to other hazardous substances — for which environmental limits, reference standards and treatment protocols have been set. Recognising that low-level contamination from antibiotics in waste and waste-water streams, agricultural run-off<sup>1</sup>, and pharmaceutical effluent<sup>2</sup> may be important risk factors linked to antibiotic resistance, they suggest setting maximum acceptable levels that are below those selecting for antimicrobial resistance. They suggest that it is vital to view antibiotics as a contaminant and to monitor levels in soil and water<sup>3</sup>. </br> </br> <b><a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/557na1_en_antibiotics-even-low-levels-found-in-the-environment-might-drive-resistance.pdf">Click here to read more</a></b>

 
Survey to inform common guidance on biodiversity measures for agricultural supply chains - Open until 15 November

Together, the TRADE Hub, the Aligning Biodiversity Measures for Business (ABMB) collaboration and the EU B@B Platform aim to form a common view on the metrics and indicators for monitoring and disclosure of biodiversity impacts and dependencies for companies with agricultural supply chains. To initiate this collaborative effort, we invite companies sourcing or producing agricultural products in the EU or globally (e.g. farmers or producers of raw materials, distributors, producers of end products, retailers) to complete a ~20 minute survey to gain understanding on current biodiversity commitments, use and understanding of available corporate biodiversity measurement approaches and the intended application of the data acquired from tool use.

 
Survey to inform common guidance on biodiversity measures for agricultural supply chains - Open until 15 November

Together, the TRADE Hub, the Aligning Biodiversity Measures for Business (ABMB) collaboration and the EU B@B Platform aim to form a common view on the metrics and indicators for monitoring and disclosure of biodiversity impacts and dependencies for companies with agricultural supply chains. Are you a company sourcing or producing agricultural products in the EU or globally? Then, take part in our ~20 minute survey to help us gain understanding on current biodiversity commitments, use and understanding of available corporate biodiversity measurement approaches and the intended application of the data acquired from tool use.

 
Shifts in cropland and trade patterns could feed the world in 2050

How can we grow more crops without taking too much water away from freshwater ecosystems for irrigation? A new study indicates that it is possible to double crop production by 2050 without exceeding set limits for water extraction if more crops are grown in regions with higher rainfall and with corresponding shifts in international trade and agricultural management. However, without appropriate safeguards, and if we follow the current business-as-usual scenario, this could come at the ecological cost of converting natural land and forest into cropland. This research provides a ‘first-step’ in analysing potential trade-offs in the global food-trade-water nexus.