Reviews & Analysis

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  • Tillage on slopes thins the soil and reduces crop yields. Increased yields in regions where soil is deposited partially compensate for this reduction in crop yields at regional scales. However, continued increases in tillage intensity and climate-change-induced increases in dry spells may lead to reduced crop yields.

    Research Briefing
  • Principles encompassed in ‘less but better’ meat could shift meat production and consumption towards greater sustainability. A systematic review identifies inconsistencies in the term’s definition and explores different interpretations that could lead to a shared vision of meat within food systems.

    • Maeve M. Henchion
    News & Views
  • Food production in a given solar footprint is limited by the efficiency of natural photosynthesis. Now, a hybrid electrochemical–biological artificial photosynthesis system demonstrates the potential for food synthesis from CO2 and electricity, enabling a paradigm shift in food production.

    • Tuo Wang
    • Jinlong Gong
    News & Views
  • A cost-effective, high-throughput fibre-based food packaging approach using non-toxic, biodegradable biopolymer materials offers a strategy to considerably increase food safety and security while minimizing food waste.

    • Yi Wang
    • Jaya Borgatta
    • Jason C. White
    News & Views
  • Trade enables food access and is therefore key to achieving global food security. However, greenhouse gas emissions associated with food transport are many times higher than what was indicated by previous estimates.

    • Prajal Pradhan
    News & Views
  • Climate change will severely influence the yield, production and water demand of processing tomatoes. Atmospheric CO2 concentration may offset, but not fully compensate, the adverse effects of elevated temperatures.

    • Ehsan Eyshi Rezaei
    • Heidi Webber
    News & Views
  • Achieving yield gains requires more insights into the deterministic pathways of crop yields. This Perspective proposes a wiring diagram as a platform to integrate knowledge of the interrelationships of physiological traits impacting wheat yield potentials and their interactions with the crop developmental stages that can be used to accelerate genetic gains through breeding.

    • Matthew Paul Reynolds
    • Gustavo Ariel Slafer
    • Richard Bailey Flavell
    Perspective
  • Improving manure management can reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, but its impacts on indirect N2O emissions and other greenhouse gases need to be assessed. Structural changes that address livestock demands and spatial planning are needed.

    • Xin Zhang
    • Luis Lassaletta
    News & Views
  • Food price data at the retail level are critical to assessing the impacts of covariate shocks on people’s access to healthy, nutritious diets. Through the calculation of cost and affordability, retail food prices can also help identify entry points to improve food and nutrition security, such as in the context of COVID-19.

    • Saskia de Pee
    • Zuzanna Turowska
    News & Views
  • Degrowth can aid climate mitigation in the food system by integrating reduced animal protein demand, emissions pricing and wealth redistribution into a global food systems transformation.

    • Manfred Lenzen
    • Lorenz Keyβer
    • Jason Hickel
    News & Views
  • Modelling the quantitative effects of sustainable degrowth and efficiency proposals on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, material output and economic activity shows that a combination of both can lead to a sustainable transformation of the food system.

    Research Briefing
  • A farmer’s decision whether to use fertilizer is complicated in rainfed areas because the resulting yield gains vary greatly depending on rainfall, temperatures, soil conditions and many other factors. Farmers on about 25% of sub-Saharan Africa’s rainfed maize-growing land face an unacceptably high likelihood that this productivity-enhancing input will not pay off.

    Research Briefing
  • Substituting animal-source foods with novel and future foods in our daily diets is essential to mitigate global environmental change. An integrated statistical approach and optimization model support a shift to alternative, more sustainable diets.

    • Asaf Tzachor
    News & Views
  • Tillage intensity is increasing across the US corn–soybean cropping systems due to increased weed resistance. The more intensive tillage regimes are likely to have negative impacts on greenhouse gas emissions from soils.

    • Sacha J. Mooney
    • Sofie Sjogersten
    News & Views
  • Technologies from synthetic biology can be applied to traditional practices in winemaking. Possibilities beyond natural microbial communities exist to improve predictive capabilities for the winemaker vintage to vintage, and introduce new characteristics to wine.

    • Roy S. K. Walker
    • Isak S. Pretorius
    Perspective
  • An analysis of historical Escherichia coli samples from livestock reveals how antimicrobial resistance can spread — and how understanding the biology underlying its spread can inform effective policy actions.

    • Claire Heffernan
    News & Views
  • Trade-offs between land-based climate change mitigation efforts and food security are common to most decarbonization scenarios. Accounting for climate impacts and inclusive policy design can reverse this trend.

    • Alexandre C. Köberle
    News & Views
  • Chemical and pathogenic hazards in aquaculture supply chains threaten the provision of safe aquatic food. The Seafood Risk Tool is an integrated, semi-quantitative system that develops bespoke supply chain and risk management strategies.

    • Michael Phillips
    News & Views