What are we doing to our environment?

An article by George Monbiot, Another Silent Spring in the Guardian on 16th July drew my attention to a recent paper in the prestigious journal Nature showing a strong correlation between neonicotinoid concentrations and the decline of insectivorous bird populations. The researchers conclude:

Our results suggest that the impact of neonicotinoids on the natural environment is even more substantial than has recently been reported and is reminiscent of the effects of persistent insecticides in the past. Future legislation should take into account the potential cascading effects of neonicotinoids on ecosystems.

Apis_mellifera_flyingNeonicotinoids are a class of powerful neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. In response to growing concerns about their impact on honey bees in particular, the EU asked the European Food Safety Authority EFSA) in January 2013. In response, the EU recommended their restriction across the EU. In April, 15 of the 27 EU member states voted to restrict their use for two years from 1st December 2014 — the UK voted against. Monbiot’s argument is that we have to act quickly to ban this pesticide as it has such devastating impact.

note: The image at the top of the page was taken by Tim Parkinson.

‘Food deserts’ in Birmingham

Professor Jim Parle is a practising GP and Professor or Primary Care at the Birmingham Medical School. He is also one of the Food Council directors.

In this video interview, part of the Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project on possible food futures for the city, he is talking about food deserts.

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What it takes to feed Birmingham


The human mind has problems with big numbers and vast geographies. Yet a glimmer of understanding of both is necessary to begin to appreciate what it takes to feed a city, even a relatively small one such as Birmingham.

The trick is to start with something familiar. Continue reading

The health and social benefits or urban food growing

In The value of urban agriculturepublished last year, there’s a list of projects for Birmingham researchers to get their teeth into. Here are three potential topics, among many: Continue reading

Nutrition and public health

Food poverty, food insecurity

Food safety and integrity

Urban food growing

Food and the city economy

Global food security

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