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306. Biological Nitrification Inhibition (BNI): Breakthrough in the Use of Nitrogen Fertilizer to Ensure Stable Food Supply and Reduce Environmental Impact
Modern agriculture is faced with the major dilemma of minimizing the environmental damage caused by agriculture while ensuring an adequate food supply. Nitrogen fertilizer is essential for crop growth, and farmers have traditionally increased nitrogen fertilizer inputs to increase food production per unit of land and reduce deforestation caused by the expansion of farmland. At the same time, however, nitrogen fertilizer has become the major cause of greenhouse gas emissions lately and groundwater pollution. Retaining nitrogen in the soil in ammonium form could be the decisive factor in solving the dilemma of increased food production without environmental pollution. The “Opinion” of JIRCAS and Princeton University scientists on these debates was published on June 1 issue (vol. 118 no. 22) of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the prestigious journals. JIRCAS and Princeton University had held a press release about this article.
On May 27, 2021, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, a global forecast conducted with the UK Met Office and other collaborating organizations, showing a high probability of temporarily reaching the lower limit of the Paris Agreement's temperature rise control target of 1.5°C since industrialization.
A video released this month by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shows that temperatures on the Earth's surface have risen since 1950, showing a trend of unusually hot days and less frequent cold days. Meanwhile, in Antarctica, it was confirmed that one of the largest icebergs, A-76, which is 40 times the size of Paris, has begun to drift.
The slogan for the celebration of International Biodiversity Day 2021 is "We're part of the solution #ForNature", and we would like to share our thoughts on biodiversity by summarizing the Pick Up articles on biodiversity that we have covered so far.
The UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank released this month the 2021 edition of the joint global and regional estimates of malnutrition among children under 5 years of age. The report shows that the number of children with stunting has been declining rapidly in recent years, but the rate of decline needs to accelerate to reach the 2030 target. The estimates do not take into account the impact of COVID-19 which is expected to exacerbate all forms of malnutrition in the future.
A paper published in One Earth in May 2021 asserts that under the worst-case climate change scenario, regions equivalent to one-third of the world's food production could fall outside the safe climatic space suitable for agriculture. The regions projected to be most vulnerable are those with inherently low resilience to climate change, such as South and Southeast Asia and the Sudan Sahel zone in Africa.
The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (a think tank of the Barilla Group, an Italian company famous for pasta) has devised a "double pyramid" of food systems. By placing the health and climate pyramids side-by-side, the model aims to show that healthier foods are similar to foods with a lower environmental impact, thereby reducing the impact of food choices on the environment and climate change.
In April 2021, an editorial in Nature Food pointed out the limitations of approaches that rely solely on technological innovations in achieving food security and sustainability, and discussed the need for traditional knowledge and behavioral change to solve the current food crisis.
A paper published in Nature Sustainability in April 2021 discussed the importance of resource security in poverty eradication. According to this study, human demand for natural resources increasingly outstrips the speed of the Earth's biological recovery. As a result, the capacity of ecosystems to regenerate biomass has become a material constraint for human economies. The analysis showed that as of 2017, almost 72% of the world's population lived in countries where the supply of biological resources does not meet demand, and low-income countries were trapped in a situation called an ‘ecological poverty trap’.