This chapter explains that all plants get sick, whether they are wild or cultivated. It talks about how some plants suffer only mildly with no visible symptoms, while others succumb to more notable conditions such as leaf spots, leaf streaks and mosaics, stem cankers, swellings, scabs, and galls. The chapter looks at plant diseases that have been described since we have been able to record history. Early writings, including the Bible, mention famines and social depravity caused by rusts, mildews, and smuts. This chapter discusses how plant diseases affect the economy, environment, and social well-being of a country. It reviews records that show the number of plant diseases that have entered and established viable populations in countries around the world. These are increasing at an alarming rate..
Basic Principles of Plant Disease
What are the impacts of food production on biodiversity?
Thijs Bosker, Ellen Cieraad, and Krijn Trimbos
This chapter looks at biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth. It underscores that biodiversity is currently being lost at an alarming rate, pointing out that extinction rates are estimated to be 100- to 1000-fold higher than natural extinction levels. The chapter also discusses the five key threats to global biodiversity: habitat fragmentation, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change, and the overexploitation of ecosystems. Then it examines how agriculture impacts other animals and plants. It describes the strategies of land sparing and land sharing, as well as the concept of rewilding. The chapter concludes with a discussion on biodiversity conservation efforts in agriculture such as agri-environmental schemes and nature-inclusive agriculture.
Biological Controls and Integrated Crop Management
This chapter looks at bees and hoverflies searching for nectar and aphids tapping into the sugar-rich sap, which are considered part of the natural interdependence of living things. It reviews the growing interest in the use of biological control methods, which use living organisms or the products of living organisms to control plant pathogens and reduce the impact of plant diseases on crops. It also examines agricultural systems that have the potential to manage plant diseases, such as Chalara ash dieback and Dutch elm diseasex, in natural ecosystems. The chapter explains how the use of biological control attempts to deal with the plant pathogens or vectors of disease without destroying the ecological balance. It highlights the use of biocontrols and biostimulants as the two main approaches to biological control.
Paul Behrens and Meredith T. Niles
This chapter discusses how the human food systems contributes to climate change and some solutions to reduce its impact. The discussion starts with an explanation of the climate processes, reviewing the concepts of the greenhouse effect, the carbon cycle, and the global warming potential. Then it looks at how humans are impacting these processes, resulting in anthropogenic climate change. The chapter explains that the presence of extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere results in the trapping of more energy (in the form of heat) in the Earth's different systems, predominantly the oceans and the atmosphere. This, in turn, results in changes in our climate, including more extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, and fires. Furthermore, the chapter presents case studies to show how complicated some food choices are. Lastly, it tackles how climate change will impact food systems as the environment changes.
How do collective action problems hinder the transition to sustainable food systems?
David Ehrhardt, Thijs Bosker, and Caroline Archambault
This chapter discusses how collective action problems hinder the transition to sustainable food systems. It explains the concept of competing incentives, cost-benefit analysis, and bounded rationality. It also differentiates between private goods, club goods, public goods, and common goods. This classification of goods is used as an important piece in the puzzle of collective action problems in food sustainability. The chapter introduces the tragedy of the commons, which describes the general human tendency to abuse non-excludable goods and presents different social-scientific models to explain it: the discrepancy between individual costs and collective benefits, the problem of free-riding, and the model of the prisoner's dilemma. Furthermore, the discussion covers Ostrom's eight principles for community-based natural resource management. Finally, the chapter outlines a range of institutionalist solutions to collective action problems.
How can we promote sustainable food consumption?
Walsh Bríd, Vicherat-Mattar Daniela, and David Ehrhardt
This chapter focuses on the promotion of sustainable food consumption, which promotes the consumer use of goods and services to meet needs, while minimizing the use of natural resource stocks, pollutants, and contaminants, and reducing waste and emissions throughout the entire product life cycle. The chapter highlights that the food choices of consumers are influenced by a range of determinants, such as social and cultural influences (for example, heritage attachments, status, and fashion), cost and price, and the attitude-behaviour gap. The chapter also tackles the strategies to enhance sustainable food consumption including pricing, labelling, nudging, green advertising, and system-wide reforms.
Disease Management in Crops
This chapter focuses on the ways people manage and treat diseases which affect the crops everyone relies on. It mentions farmers who carefully use a whole range of techniques which ensure their crops are healthy, reduce the risk of infections occurring, and treat diseases or pests. It also highlights measures in planting seeds, ploughing, crop rotations, and break crops which have an enormous effect on the health of crop plants and yield quality produce. The chapter describes crop rotation as the most basic method of cultural control, which is done by growing a series of very different crops from different plant families in a particular field over a series of years. It analyses the break in cultivation that both helps to maintain field fertility and reduce plant disease, which has less obvious benefits in areas such as weed management.
This chapter focuses on the energy system, to investigate the ways in which energy is currently used in the food system and how this use may develop in the future. It outlines the physical nature of energy and power and describes the different sources of energy. The discussion highlights that food production uses around 15–20% of the total energy produced for human needs. The discussion covers two critical issues in energy use: the improved availability of energy in poorer countries and the implementation of low-carbon technologies in all countries. Furthermore, it explains the zero-carbon energy system. The chapter also explores how food systems can be decarbonized. Finally, it looks at the role agricultural systems could play in the energy transition itself.
How can food aid effectively reduce food insecurity?
Caroline Archambault and David Ehrhardt
This chapter focuses on food aid and all voluntary transfers aimed directly at reducing the food insecurity of a particular population. It discusses the five key ways of providing food aid, which are supplementary feeding or providing in-kind food to specific populations; food stamps or providing vouchers for food to eligible populations; food-for-work or exchanging in-kind food for labour; food banks or food distribution points run by civil society organizations; and food sharing which is sharing of food or money within social networks. Furthermore, the chapter looks at the challenges to food aid efficacy such as targeting, conditionalities that serve the donors' interests, and spoiler behaviour by middlemen.
Paul Behrens, Thijs Bosker, and David Ehrhardt
Food and Sustainability is composed of three parts. It starts off with an introduction to the topic. Part I, food and the environment, looks at biodiversity, pollution, water, soils, climate change, and energy. The next part looks at food and society. Chapters in this part cover nutrition, food security, food aid, and consumption. The final part, food and governance, is about food systems, governance, and collective action, with the text concluding by summarizing and looking to the future.
Meredith T. Niles and Molly E. Brown
This chapter discusses the concepts of food security and its connection to sustainability. It looks at where food is produced, by whom it is produced, and how humans then move and use this food around the planet. The chapter first defines the expanding concept of food security, which has begun with narrower concerns of providing enough food and, more recently, encompassing social and cultural issues. The chapter also introduces the four pillars of food security: availability, access, utilization, and stability. Then the discussion explores urban agriculture as well as the use of satellite information and Internet-connected devices to improve farm management.
How are food systems organized in a globalized economy?
Peter Oosterveer and Anke Brons
This chapter looks at how food systems are organized in a globalized economy. The chapter also differentiates between mainstream food systems, which aim for economic efficiency and rely on the intensive use of technology, including machinery, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides, and alternative food systems, which prioritize quality over efficiency in the food supply chain, and usually pay specific attention to certain aspects in the food chain, such as organic production processes, ethics of production, and the relationships between producer and consumer. Next, the chapter defines what sustainable food systems look like and identifies ways to measure food system sustainability. Finally, the chapter explores methods for enhancing the sustainability of food systems such as building on what works and reforming food governance.
Fungi and Fungus-like Organisms
This chapter looks at the fungi and protist kingdoms. These contain a diverse group of organisms and comprise of between 1.5 and 5 million species, although only around 100 000 species have been described. The chapter points out that only 10 per cent of fungi and protists are actually plant pathogens, while the remainder live as saprophytes or in a symbiotic relationship with their host plant. It also explores some of the best-known plant pathogens in the fungi and protist kingdoms. The chapter clarifies that fungi are eukaryotic, heterotrophic organisms that depend upon external organic carbon sources which are broken down by secreted fungal enzymes and absorbed as dissolved molecules by the fungus. It discusses how fungi can't make their own food by photosynthesis as plants do; instead the fungus secretes enzymes that break down and digest other organisms outside of its body.
How can food systems be governed to promote sustainability?
Gerard Breeman and David Ehrhardt
This chapter explores the politics and policymaking processes involved in the problem of food governance. The discussion emphasizes that governance is both a problem-solving process and a political process in which stakeholders use power to try to promote their own interests. It considers food governance as a wicked problem, complicated by technical complexity, multiple stakeholders, boundary conflicts, and the need for constant adaptation. The chapter outlines the policy cycle in which stakeholders negotiate and compete to promote their interests, then it looks at the goals these stakeholders have in influencing government policy and other institutions and how these shape food systems. Next, it illustrates the difficulties in governing food systems to make them more sustainable.
Can we feed the world sustainably?
Thijs Bosker, Paul Behrens, and David Ehrhardt
This chapter provides significant contexts on how the human population grew dramatically after two major evolutions: the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. It highlights that population growth among humans has required resources to be diverted from natural systems to human societies, including food, water, and energy. The chapter also explains the Holocene, a period of relative stability in the Earth's climate which enabled population growth. Furthermore, it discusses the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch associated with the global and pervasive impacts of human activities on the environment. The chapter also discusses how ecological footprints are calculated and introduces the concepts of biocapacity, resource stocks, and resource flows. Then it tackles the key environmental and societal challenges related to food production. Lastly, it looks at the role of governance in overcoming sustainability challenges.
How are diets linked to environmental impacts?
Jessica Kiefte-de Jong and Paul Behrens
This chapter explores the environmental impacts of diets. It starts by outlining the key components of diets, including macronutrients and micronutrients. Then the chapter examines malnutrition and links it to health impacts and the prevalence of major diseases around the world. Next, it looks at how diets have changed around the world in response to the alleviation of poverty and the global increase of incomes. The chapter also describes the impact of different food types on the environment, and how these may change in the future. It tackles alternative diets such as vegetarianism, veganism, and entomophagy. Lastly, the chapter outlines a case study on nationally recommended diets.
This chapter discusses how plant diseases affect food and ornamental crops and have devastating impacts on whole ecosystems, pointing out that if a single plant or tree is wiped out by disease, the whole ecosystem is undermined. It explains how the threat of plant diseases spreading across the globe has become more real and more pressing as international travel has become easy and relatively cheap. It also highlights biosecurity which involves a set of precautions that aim to prevent the introduction and spread of harmful organisms. The chapter outlines four key areas associated with biosecurity: trade pathways; international regulations; risk assessment; and introduction, spread, and detection of harmful organisms. It analyses the term 'biosecurity', which means preventing the introduction and spread of harmful organisms, whether in plants, or in animals.
Paul Beales, John Elphinstone, Adrian Fox, Charles Lane, Derek McCann, Lacey Tim, Kerry Maguire, and Alice Turnbull
Plant Diseases and Biosecurity begins by looking at the basic principles of plant disease. It then moves on to fungi and fungal-like organisms. Plant pathogens are considered in the next chapter. The text also looks at viruses and virus-like pathogens of plants. Plant biodiversity is described in detail. Another chapter looks at surveillance and considers traditional and emerging techniques used by plant health regulators. Disease management in crops is also examined. Finally, the book looks at biological controls and integrated crop management.
Plant Pathogens: Bacteria
This chapter examines bacterial plant diseases which affect a wide range of crops, ornamentals, and environmentally important plants and trees. It first reviews descriptions of bacterial plant diseases by the early pioneers in plant bacteriology, wherein many different genera of bacteria which damage plants were reported. It also highlights the enormous global impact of bacterial plant diseases in both social and financial terms. The chapter outlines types of economic losses that range from minor blemishes, such as spots, areas of dead tissue, or yellowing on leaves or fruit, to more serious rots, wilts, blights, and diebacks, which can spread through and devastate entire crops or areas of natural vegetation. It elaborates on how minor symptoms of bacterial plant diseases can still be economically significant if the loss in quality affects marketability, such as in the cases of high-value ornamental plants or food crops.
How are food systems related to environmental pollution?
Thijs Bosker and Martina G. Vijver
This chapter discusses how food systems are related to environmental pollution. It highlights that pollution from food production is often diffuse, which makes both prevention and removal difficult. It starts with a brief historical background on public perceptions of environmental pollution and relates this to a shift in environmental awareness among the general public. The chapter introduces key concepts related to environmental pollution such as xenobiotic compounds, contaminants, pollutants, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification. Underscoring that humans have been using increased quantities of agrochemicals since the Green Revolution, the chapter looks at the effects of the application of artificial fertilizers and pesticides on the environment and non-target organisms.