Embracing ugly veg and the ugly side of poultry production to make more profitable and sustainable products

Read the full story at Food Navigator Europe.

A Danish food tech start-up is leveraging two very different food industry side streams – spent laying hens, and mushrooms rejected by supermarkets – to launch fermented organic flavour enhancers.

Relay Race, Not Arms Race: Clean Energy Manufacturing Implications of the IRA for the US and EU

Download the report.

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the US has elicited two competing reactions from policymakers in Europe. European officials are relieved that with the passage of the IRA, the US has a credible pathway to meet its 2030 emission reduction target under the Paris Agreement, provided it is paired with federal climate regulations and additional state-level climate action. At the same time, many in Europe are concerned that incentives for US clean energy manufacturing investment in the IRA could harm European industrial competitiveness. In response, the European Commission has proposed a Green Deal Industrial Plan to further support clean energy manufacturing on the continent. This has generated headlines warning of a “subsidies arms race” between allies.

In this note, we unpack the IRA and what it means for European industry. We find that while the IRA includes meaningful new incentives for the US clean energy industry, the share of IRA spending that supports US manufacturing directly at the expense of European industry is considerably lower than recent reporting on the transatlantic clean energy rift might suggest. The primary driver from the IRA shaping the clean energy manufacturing landscape is likely to be the overall accelerated pace of clean energy deployment in the US. This will expand clean energy manufacturing in the US, but will also create opportunities for European companies and lower the cost of clean energy on both sides of the Atlantic.

Soils of war: The toxic legacy for Ukraine’s breadbasket

Read the full story from Reuters.

Scientists looking at soil samples taken from the recaptured Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine found that high concentrations of toxins such as mercury and arsenic from munitions and fuel are polluting the ground.

Using the samples and satellite imagery, scientists at Ukraine’s Institute for Soil Science and Agrochemistry Research estimated that the war has degraded at least 10.5 million hectares of agricultural land across Ukraine so far, according to the research shared with Reuters.

EU lawmakers approve CO2-cutting targets and expanding forest carbon sinks

Read the full story from Reuters.

The European Parliament gave its final approval on Tuesday to tougher national targets to cut emissions in some sectors, and expand CO2-absorbing natural ecosystems like forests.

The two laws are part of a major package of climate change legislation passing through the European Union’s policymaking process, designed to ensure the 27-country bloc cuts greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels.

EU urged to ban ‘carbon neutral’ claims for food and drink: ‘There’s no such thing as a CO2 neutral banana’

Read the full story at Food Navigator Europe.

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) is calling for an ‘outright ban’ of carbon neutral claims for food and drink in Europe, claiming they confuse and mislead shoppers. FoodNavigator asks the Carbon Trust to weigh in.

Russia’s aggression threatens efforts to protect nature beyond Ukraine

Red-breasted geese breed mainly on Russia’s Taymyr Peninsula and migrate to areas adjacent to the Black Sea in Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. Daniel Mitev, CC BY-ND

by Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao, University of Washington; Duan Biggs, Northern Arizona University; Nives Dolsak, University of Washington, and Paul G. Harris, The Education University of Hong Kong

The Russian invasion of Ukraine launched in February 2022 has sent economic, social and political shock waves around the world. In a newly published policy brief, we and other researchers and conservation scientists describe how these effects extend to biodiversity conservation efforts far beyond Ukraine.

Animals, plants and ecosystems don’t recognize political boundaries, so protecting them often requires international cooperation. Over many decades, countries have developed a network of international agreements and arrangements for protecting biodiversity. Now, however, the war at Russia’s hands is delaying a number of those efforts, stopping others, and even sending some into reverse.

War and the spoon-billed sandpiper

A small brown and white bird stands in dry tundra grasses.
The spoon-billed sandpiper is a wetland-dependent species that breeds in the treeless tundra of the Russian Far East. Their total population is estimated at about 600. Sayam Chowdhury, CC BY-ND

As one example, efforts to save the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper (Calidris pygmaea) from extinction are now at risk as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Russia’s treeless tundra, in the high Arctic, is the summer home of countless birds that arrive from as far as Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and even South America. Among them is the tiny spoon-billed sandpiper, which weighs in at about 1 ounce (28 grams).

These petite birds nest in the Russian Far East and migrate during the Northern Hemisphere winter to Southeast Asia. Owing to hunting and habitat loss, fewer than 600 of the birds remain.

Since 2012, a multinational team of researchers and conservationists has been conducting a “headstart” breeding program that collects spoon-billed sandpiper eggs from the wild, incubates them and raises chicks in a custom-built aviary on the Russian tundra. This strategy protects chicks from predators, giving them a better chance to reach maturity and reproduce.

Restrictions on international travel to and from Russia have halted this program, which is vital to the sandpiper’s survival, by preventing collaborators from traveling to the site from abroad. Russia has also been suspended from the SWIFT interbank system – the main system that powers secure international fund transfers between financial institutions around the world. This has blocked transfers of much-needed international funds for on-the-ground conservation work.

Scientists near and inside a long hoop house on the Russian tundra.
A key strategy for the conservation of the spoon-billed sandpiper is a headstart breeding program, which includes raising chicks in a purpose-built aviary on the Russian tundra until they are old enough to survive in the wild. Sayam Chowdhury, CC BY-ND

The Russian invasion is also delaying the potential for conserving critical habitats. For example, important wetlands along China’s coastline that are part of the spoon-billed sandpiper’s migration route have been designated as World Heritage Sites. There is a proposal to expand habitat protection under the World Heritage Convention to other areas along the migratory route, which is also vital for other bird species.

At the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia chaired the United Nations committee that oversees the designation of new sites. Other countries that are signatories to the World Heritage Convention boycotted the process, refusing to operate either in Russia or under Russia’s leadership. Russia has since resigned as the committee chair, but the site designation process has been delayed for over a year.

Russia’s vast lands and waters

Russia has the largest surface area of any country in the world, covering more than 6.6 million square miles (17 million square kilometers). This sheer expanse makes Russia a vital place for biodiversity.

Beyond the spoon-billed sandpiper, birds that visit Russia from other countries include the red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis), which migrates to areas near the Black Sea, and the gray-cheeked thrush (Catharus minimus), which migrates to South America. In total, Russia is the breeding stronghold for over 500 migratory bird species, of which 52 are threatened with extinction.

Map showing migratory bird routes that stretch from Russia south to Africa, Asia and Australia.
Multiple global migratory waterbird flyways intersect Russia (shaded in dark gray). Conserving areas that migratory birds use while they are in Russia is a critical strategy for protecting the species. Brad K. Woodworth, adapted from Wetlands International, CC BY-ND

Other species also move through Russian territory as they migrate. They include hoofed mammals, such as the wild forest caribou (Rangifer tarandus fennicus), and the critically endangered saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica). Russia’s waters are home to numerous fish species, including commercially valuable ones like salmon and sturgeon.

In terms of ecosystems, Russia has the world’s largest and most well-preserved forests. They provide vital habitats for many species and contain enormous stores of carbon, so protecting them has global implications for addressing climate change. Farther north, about half of the Arctic Ocean’s coastline, including locations that have experienced relatively little human impact, lies within Russia.

A link in global conservation networks

Russia has been involved in international efforts to manage and conserve species for over a century, starting in 1911 when it signed the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention. Since then, Russia has joined more than 50 international agreements for biodiversity conservation, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership and the China-Russia Bilateral Migratory Bird Agreement.

Now Russia’s diplomatic isolation is hampering work under multilateral arrangements like the Arctic Council, which includes the eight countries with Arctic territory and a half-dozen regional Indigenous organizations. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the council has halted its operations, although it aims to resume some on a limited scale that excludes Russia. The Arctic Council has a working group on biodiversity conservation, including specific initiatives to conserve migratory birds.

Russia also has been an important participant in transnational collaborative research on wildlife and biodiversity issues. For example, to conserve migratory animals, researchers need to understand their movements. This makes it possible to identify and protect the animals’ key habitats.

Russia has more than one-fifth of the world’s forests, but badly managed logging and illegal timber harvesting threaten their health and ability to store carbon.

Icarus, a collaborative research initiative for understanding animal migration, has relied on data sharing by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. This partnership has now been suspended, leaving Icarus in search of an alternative solution.

The war in Ukraine has also created an imperative for countries to prioritize some issues over biodiversity conservation. For example, Russian attacks on Ukrainian farms and related infrastructure, and Russian naval blockades of grain exports, have contributed to global food shortages. In response, the European Union has sought to increase agricultural output by rolling back some of its biodiversity-friendly farming policies.

For as long as the war in Ukraine lasts, we believe it is imperative for other countries to increase their efforts to strengthen and expand the international system for biodiversity conservation in the rest of the world. In our view, this should happen even as governments rightly assist Ukraine’s valiant efforts to regain full control over all of its territory, including its wetlands, forests and other important habitats currently occupied by Russian forces.

Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao, David H. Smith Conservation Research Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington; Duan Biggs, Professor and Chair, Southwestern Environmental Science and Policy, Northern Arizona University; Nives Dolsak, Professor of Sustainability Sciences and Director, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, University of Washington, and Paul G. Harris, Chair Professor of Global and Environmental Studies, The Education University of Hong Kong

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

EC approval of hexane alternative methyloxolane a ‘breakthrough’ for ingredient production

Read the full story at Food Navigator Europe.

Although ‘many thought approving a new solvent would be impossible’, the European Parliament and Council have added plant-based solvent methyloxolane to the list of permitted processing aids for the manufacture of food ingredients.

Why Greta Thunberg is protesting wind farms in Norway

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

When Swedish climate advocate Greta Thunberg and other activists protested at several Norwegian government ministries this week, they weren’t demonstrating against new petroleum refineries or tax incentives for Big Oil. Instead, they were standing against wind farms, often seen as a key tool in fighting climate change.

But the two wind farms at stake are built on land in central Norway that is traditionally used by the Sami people to herd reindeer, a prized animal that has long provided them with food, clothing and labor. While the turbines bolster Norway’s green ambitions by powering thousands of homes, they do so at a cost activists say is too high: by disrupting the daily life of the Sami people and frightening the animals they rely on for their livelihood.

Nestlé moves Nesquik into reusable steel packaging in Germany: ‘We want to use less virgin plastic; this is a concrete solution’

Read the full story at Beverage Daily.

In Germany, food major Nestlé is testing the use of reusable stainless-steel containers, rented from start-up Circolution, for its Nesquik cocoa brand.

The changing face of Europe’s solar energy sector

Read the full story from Innovation News Network.

Dries Acke, Policy Director at SolarPower Europe, offers an overview of Europe’s current solar energy outlook and how it has changed in recent months, and discusses the challenges that need to be addressed to ensure a prosperous future.