By Margarita Lysenkova, Manager – Sector Program, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
Northampton, MA --News Direct-- GRI
Ores mined in war zones have long been subject to heightened attention when it comes to sustainability and reputational risks. Yet in 2022, it is the production and sourcing of ‘soft’ commodities, like wheat, that are increasingly under scrutiny.
As the conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate, the impacts on sustainable development become more pronounced, and the vulnerabilities in global food supply chains are increasing. Almost half of the world’s calorie intake is derived from essential crops, such as maize, rice, and wheat – and according to World Bank analysis, Ukraine and Russia account for 29% of global wheat exports and 17.4% of world trade in maize. Supply of crucial cooking oils and fertilizers has also been affected.
Many companies have suspended trade and operations in Russia due to sanctions and stakeholder pressure. While the diplomatic agreement reached to unblock Black Sea trade routes from Ukrainian ports offers some encouragement, uncertainties remain. In addition, concerns over products being obtained under extortion add to the challenges for companies involved in commodity trade throughout the region.
Rights to food are being eroded
It goes without saying that when agricultural areas are devasted and water installations destroyed, the right to food of the local population is violated. Yet the impact of the Ukraine crisis spreads well beyond the nation’s borders. It is expected that many millions will be at risk of hunger globally as a result of tightening supply and affordability of essential crops, which comes on top of existing difficulties that have already been exacerbated by two and a half years of COVID-19.
Not all world regions are exposed in the same way. Where people are already experiencing severe poverty, the risks of hunger and malnutrition are much higher. As the World Food Programme has warned, countries dependent on food exports from the conflict-affected region are being hit hardest. Meanwhile, to prevent local shortages, we are seeing some countries restricting food exports, which may further impact the global supply.
When viewed from the human rights perspective, the right to food for many is not primarily about a lack of sufficient quantity but lack of access – largely due to affordability. However, with continuing declines in Russia-Ukraine food exports, we are seeing heightened concern over insufficiency of food availability. Less crops harvested and planted in 2022 is likely to instigate a spiral of worsened food security in the year ahead.
Global baseline for transparency
Most food is produced, processed, traded, and distributed by private businesses. At the same time, when an individual company looks at their impacts on food security in isolation, it often struggles to determine them. Multinational companies may also focus on developed markets where food security is not a significant concern. The risk is that food security is perceived as a macro “development” issue, which is why expectations for transparency on food security is relatively new for many companies.
The GRI Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fishing Standard (GRI 13), launched in June, supports any organizations operating in these sectors to communicate and disclose their sustainability impacts in a comprehensive and comparable way. This new reporting standard singles out food security as one of the significant issues that companies need to consider, providing a new global baseline for transparency on the topic.
As GRI 13 recognizes, there is no silver bullet solution to global food security. A myriad of approaches and actions are needed, including:
Strengthening capacity for farmers to increase production and supply, such as a newly launched US$1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility that is delivering urgently needed seeds and fertilizers and helps producers to cover food shortages in the region. Rising fuel and transportation costs is another pressure on farmers’ incomes, further increasing the vulnerability of small producers. By reporting their contribution to economic inclusion of farmers, companies can demonstrate the role they are playing – and where more action is needed.
Partnerships and collaboration to alleviate food security concerns, with some companies working with governments and international development institutions. For example, a link up between the International Finance Corporation and Olam Agri will boost exports of wheat, maize and soy to developing countries. The existing distribution channels of companies can be leveraged in cases of a crisis for a prompt response. This why GRI 13 recognizes partnerships on food security as key information to report.
Greater action on food loss, to ensure more food is persevered for human consumption. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, globally 13.8% of food is lost from harvest to retail. And of course, mitigating food loss also brings cost savings and economic benefits, while reporting can help assess the efforts to minimize food loss.
Food sovereignty policies, which emphasize local resilience within agriculture systems, to help countries that are largely dependent on food imports to redress the balance and reduce vulnerability to crises in other regions. Localized food production also reduces the distance between producers and consumers. By reporting actions to strengthen food security at the local and regional level, companies can highlight how they address food security locally or regionally.
Trade-offs and compromises – such as those related to land use for products, or changes to align dietary choices with sustainably produced food. As the EAT-Lancet Commission report outlines, food production needs to shift to be beneficial for both human health and the environment. This means businesses need to be taking active decisions about how they are using land and natural resources.
A persistent and pressing challenge
The actions of the companies producing the essential food and materials on which humanity’s survival depends can be a multiplying factor when it comes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. And given we are presently on a trajectory to fail to reach SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), with 800 million people going hungry every day (according to a UN Food & Agriculture Organization report), it’s clear that we need private companies to take greater accountability for their food security related impacts.
The global population is projected to rise to 10 billion by 2050, meaning that we can expect the issue of food security will continue to rise up priority lists – for governments, policy makers and big business alike. That means that civil society groups, responsible investors and other stakeholders will press companies to be transparent.
Food is more than just a commodity that can be left to the whims of market forces – nor should its supply and security be undermined as a consequence of armed conflicts and natural disasters. The integration of food security considerations into the sustainability strategies of companies, as encouraged through GRI’s new Sector Standard, is a crucial next step towards the long-term solution.
About the author
Margarita Lysenkova joined GRI in 2019 and has been instrumental in the development of the new Sector Program, where she has led the pilot project for the development of GRI 13. With a professional background in corporate, UN and non-for-profit sectors across four countries, Margarita’s expertise spans international labor standards and sustainability. She has previously worked for the International Labour Organization in Geneva, and in a financial reporting role with a Belgian multinational. Margarita holds degrees in economics (Saint Petersburg University of Economics & Finance) and business management (ESC Rennes School of Business).
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the independent, international organization that helps businesses and other organizations take responsibility for their impacts, by providing the global common language to report those impacts. The GRI Standards are developed through a multi-stakeholder process and provided as a free public good.
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View source version on newsdirect.com: https://newsdirect.com/news/food-security-access-for-all-is-a-human-right-293531707
Ghost Security, which its founders describe as an "app security" company, today emerged from stealth with $15 million in combined funding from 468 Capital, DNX Ventures, and Munich Re Ventures at a $50 million valuation. CEO Greg Martin said that the capital will go toward expanding the team, building Ghost's product, and launching pilots with potential customers.
Apps and APIs are at the core of organizations. Ultimately, they're what delivers essential info to employees and customers. But increasingly, apps and APIs have become attack vectors. Salt Security -- which, to be fair, sells an API protection product -- estimates that "malicious" API usage grew 681% from December 2020 to December 2021. As for apps, cybercriminals targeting mobile devices most frequently used them to break in, according to Pradeo Labs research.
Martin claims that Ghost takes a "data science" approach to security to solve challenges that other vendors cannot. While keeping the details high-level and mostly under wraps -- Ghost's product hasn't launched yet -- he said that the company's technology delivers visibility and risk protection for apps and their dependencies, including services and APIs, in both cloud and on-premises environments.
"As an industry, we are still seeing a lot of legacy thinking around how to deal with the application, data, and microservice sprawl that large scale cloud adoption has created," Martin said in a press release. "Existing approaches and application security solutions are now dated and losing effectiveness. At Ghost, we are completely rethinking the approach to securing modern applications from the ground up."
Them's fighting words for a company that's preproduct. But Martin highlights that Ghost's co-founders have considerable expertise in cybersecurity. Josh Larsen, CTO, was an engineering manager at Symantec before joining Check Point as an account manager and co-founding Blackfin Security Group, which Symantec acquired in 2015. Eric Cornelius, chief product officer, was the deputy director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's control systems security program and a chief product architect at BlackBerry.
Talent is only a part of the equation -- and Ghost faces a slew of competition out of the gate. The aforementioned Salt Security has raised tens of millions of dollars for its tech to protect APIs from malicious abuse. Noname, another company aiming to solve API security problems, hit a $1 billion valuation after a $135 million Series C raise last December. Traceable AI, 42Crunch, and Cequence offer comprehensive API security services, too, while on the app security side, there's vendors like Astrix Security and Enso Security.
That doesn't faze Hiro Rio Maeda, a managing partner at DNX Ventures and an investor in Ghost. His is a meaningful investment, to be clear, given that the amount of venture capital investment for cybersecurity startups fell 35.8% this quarter on a quarter-over-quarter basis, according to Pitchbook data.
"The surge in adoption of applications, APIs, and microservices represents great growth potential for businesses but also introduces many new attack surfaces," Maeda said in a statement. "A better approach to securing these assets is needed, and Ghost is well-positioned to address that challenge."
The world is experiencing a food crisis driven by a number of factors, including food waste, a shortage of goods and increased costs.
Take wheat. Cultivated on every continent except Antarctica, it’s a key source of nutrients for an estimated 2.5 billion people. Now, a shortage of grain is straining global food supply and contributing to the risk of hunger around the globe.
Russia’s war on Ukraine alone eliminated 25% of the world’s wheat supply. Prior to the invasion, Ukraine — considered Europe’s “breadbasket”— had been producing enough to feed 400 million mouths. The World Food Programme now estimates that the ripple effects of the war could increase the number of people facing severe food insecurity by 47 million in 2022.
Another factor impacting the wheat shortage is climate change, with drought in some of the world’s biggest wheat-producing regions dampening supply. A drought in the southern U.S. plains, known as America’s “wheat belt,” has cast doubt over the upcoming winter harvest, while another has impacted crops in India, the world’s eighth-largest wheat supplier. Additionally, China, the world’s largest producer of wheat, announced its winter harvest was expected to be the worst on record after a heavy rainfall delayed planting.
Food Prices Are Soaring
The war and climate have also contributed to spiraling wheat prices. Now, all food categories are experiencing surging prices and inflation. In March, world food prices hit a record high, jumping nearly 13% and increasing the severity of food insecurity for 811 million people around the world. The jarring rise in prices is rooted in numerous issues spanning the globe. Pandemic-related disruption remains, as restrictions on movement continue to negatively impact production and trade. At the same time, increased transaction costs caused by the labor shortage are still being passed down to consumers. The world’s food supply is still being outstripped by demand, which continues to drive prices up, and unrest in other parts of the world have worsened agricultural output and production globally.
While inflation and food shortages persist, food waste compounds the issue. The 2021 RTS Food Waste in America Guide indicates that while the world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food every year, the U.S. discards more food than any other country in the world — nearly 40 million tons every year. That’s estimated to be 30%-40% of the entire U.S. food supply, equating to 219 pounds of waste per person.
This level of food waste presents a unique opportunity for supply chain leaders to reevaluate how their supply chains are tracking and managing fresh food and goods. Food waste is often viewed as the cost of doing business, but in the face of global famine, a new approach is paramount.
According to the USDA Economic Research Service, 40% of food waste occurs before products even reach retailers and consumers. Food waste occurs across all ends of the supply chain, stemming from issues including improper storage during transportation, inaccurate order sizes and prioritizing appearance over nutrition at the retail level. The food industry has recognized that more needs to be done. Walmart has embraced selling "ugly" apples, while startup Do Good Foods is collecting unused food from grocery stores and food banks and turning it into animal feed for chickens, which it then sells for human consumption. The company launched its first product, Do Good Chicken, with select Philadelphia retailers this year. Each poultry product prevents four pounds of food waste from being sent to a landfill, eliminating the generation of three pounds of greenhouse gases.
It’s not just businesses that can make a positive impact on cutting food waste – consumers want to do their part to help, too. A recent survey indicated that nearly half of consumers are actively trying to cut food waste and 62% of consumers are willing to pay more for food and beverage products that are dedicated to stopping food waste.
Better Supply Chain, Better Outlook
The food supply chain is capable of drastically reducing food waste. Significant supply chain reforms, a crucial component of food waste reduction, rely on the adoption of both technology and data standards. Companies can minimize the amount of discarded foods by investing in advanced technologies that can manage inventory, create transparency and better forecast inventory needs. When data is digitized and guided by standards, the sharing of information between trading partners in a common language reduces communication errors, while supporting real-time product information updates so that retailers can make informed decisions about inventory.
Standards such as the Global Trade Item Number of GS1 for product identification help food manufacturers identify and trade items, while providing additional data to trading partners wherever a barcode is scanned. With information about the source and movement of products, the global food supply chain can more closely monitor and trace food to reduce spoilage. Real-time inventory visibility equips organizations to better handle perishable items, ensuring those products’ viability.
Coupled with standards, key technologies — ranging from the internet of things and artificial intelligence to blockchain and 2D barcodes — can be used to further upgrade food supply chain management and reduce waste. Take the case of Strella Biotech. It has been using GS1 standards by tracking serial shipping container code numbers to identify lots of food as they move between trading partners. Doing so makes it possible to tie Strella’s maturity data to certain lots, and thus make maturity-driven decisions such as first-in first-out or first-expired-first-out inventory management. That translates into a major waste reduction revolution for items with limited shelf life.
The startup also recognized that the lack of data on perishables and siloed supply chain partners was contributing to food waste. Now, Strella Biotech uses sensors, IoT networks and data analysis to interpret shelf life. Before produce changes in quality, it emits gases that sensors can detect. Stella Biotech then translates those emissions, applies environmental and upstream data points, and analyzes fruit behavior to determine its maturity.
Industry’s transition to data-rich, 2D barcodes on product packaging will also have the potential to assist with food waste. While the UPC barcode has aided price look-up at point-of-sale for the past 50 years, many industries, including food and grocery, have aligned to adopt 2D barcodes by 2027 that will not only provide far more information about products, but also better identify opportunities for sustainability, traceability and supply chain visibility.
While supply chain transparency and digitization won’t deliver the world more food, they can help bolster data about available supply so it can be redistributed to people in need as fast as possible. Every component of the supply chain needs to work together to reduce controllable bottlenecks and constraints through automation and data sharing.
Melanie Nuce is senior vice president of innovation and partnerships with GS1 US.
In addition to clothes, backpacks, hygiene products and school supplies, the nonprofit also is requesting gift cards that families will use to shop for their children. Amazon, Walmart, Target and Costco are the most popular choices, according to Preston.
The annual event serves hundreds of students in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood who are in need of donations to reduce the outside stressors of the school experience.
Families who wish to benefit from the program can register with Ecumenical Hunger until supplies run out, according to Preston. Anyone who wishes to donate is encouraged to do so as soon as possible, although there is no deadline.
Gift cards and donations can be dropped off at 2411 Pulgas Ave. in East Palo Alto on Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 650-323-7781 or go to ehpcares.org.
Stanford Shopping Center's 'Do Good with Denim' campaign
Stanford Shopping Center will host its inaugural "Do Good With Denim" campaign Aug. 1-21 in partnership with Samaritan House, a San Mateo-based nonprofit that provides food, shelter and other services to low-income residents. Community members can donate any used denim item, including jeans, jackets, shirts, skirts and more, according to Simon Property Group, the parent company of Stanford Shopping Center.
Samaritan House plans to add the donated denim products to its Kid’s Closet, which allows children to select clothes without financial worries. The campaign organizers also hope to promote sustainability by recycling denim, rather than disposing of it.
Customers who donate any denim item will be eligible to receive discounts at participating stores, according to Simon Property Group. The participating stores are Everlane, The Gap, Levi’s, Lucky Brand, Madewell, Urban Outfitters, Amour Vert and Anthropologie.
If you know of an organization hosting a back-to-school donation drive, send detailed information, including requested items, the deadline for donations and a point of contact, to Digital Editor Jamey Padojino at [email protected].
WYNNEWOOD, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Access to adequate food is a major challenge in the United States. Food insecurity skyrocketed in early on in the pandemic, and inflation is driving it up again. Now, health care systems are making better meeting that need part of their health care mission.
"We've got collard greens, chard, looks like carrots as well," says Shonalie Roberts, as she walks through the Delma Deaver Wellness Farm at Lankenau Medical Center.
As Main Line Health's director for health equity, Roberts works to ensure patients have access to good care, including healthy food.
One effort is targeted toward seniors, many living alone and feeling isolated.
Before the pandemic, fresh produce from the Deaver Wellness Farm was offered in Lankenau Medical Center's primary care offices.
But with the switch to telehealth in 2020, things changed.
"We quickly shifted to a home delivery model to get the fresh produce from right here at our farm, as well as purchasing produce from a local food distributor," says Roberts.
Main Line Health is also asking patients at its four emergency departments a basic question: In the past year, did you either run out of food, or worry about running out of food, and not have money to buy more?
If the answer is yes, there is help.
"We're offering them a free bag of food, with two entrees, plus snacks and beverages," she says. "But a bag of food alone is not going to be enough to help them in the long-term, so we include a brochure with resources that can help them and their families."
Inflation is causing more people here, and across the country, to face food worries.
Moody's Analytics says the average American now spends $78 more a month on food.
Some food pantries say they're serving 50% more people than a year ago, a pace similar to the worst days of the pandemic.
Main Line Health connects its seniors-in-need with community food resources, such as the Why Hunger hotline, area food banks, and the hospital's Senior Care Line at 484-580-1234.
"That gets you directly connected to a Main Line Health social worker trained in the needs of seniors," she says.
Roberts says the commitment to easing food insecurity reflects a new definition of "health care."
"We have to care for the whole patient." she says.
Community Food Resources:
Main Line Health Senior Care Line - 484-580-1234
Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger - 215-430-0555, hungercoalition.org
Jewish Relief Agency - 610-660-0190, jewishrelief.org
WhyHunger Hotline - 1-800-5-HUNGRY (1-800-548-6479), whyhunger.org/find-food - Call or text your zip code to locate a local emergency food provider
Chester County Food Bank - 610-873-6000, chestercountyfoodbank.org
Delaware County Interfaith Food Assistance Network - 610-566-7540
Ardmore Food Pantry - 610-649-1486, stmarysardmore.org/ardmore-food-pantry
Daily Bread Community Food Pantry - 610-489-5540, dailybreadcommunityfoodpantry.org
Memorial Church of God in Christ - 215-618-5504, memorialcogic.com/food-pantry
Caring for Friends - 215-464-2224, caringforfriends.org
People's Emergency Center - 267-777-5880, pec-cares.org
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