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USDA Joins Global Alliance To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Increase Food Security

The U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) said on Wednesday it has joined the Global Research Alliance, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase access to food worldwide, Reuters reports. “The USDA will increase its spending on agricultural climate change mitigation research by $90 million to more than $130 million during the next four years,” the news service writes. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, “No single nation has all the resources it needs to tackle agricultural greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time enhancing food production and food security.”

The alliance is “expected to work on cheaper and more accurate methods of measuring greenhouse gas emissions and carbon stored in soil; new farming practices that reduce emissions and increase carbon storage in farmland in different countries; and farming methods that sustain yields while helping to mitigate climate change,” Reuters writes. “Overall, USDA said it expects to invest more than $320 million in the next four years on climate change mitigation and adaptation research for agriculture” (Doering, 12/16).

Ahead of USDA’s announcement, Vilsack spoke about food security and climate change at the U.N. conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Food Manufacturing reports. “There is an important link between global climate change and food insecurity, both daunting challenges that will require shared vision and efforts if we are to make progress in addressing them,” he said.

“We are working to take action to address the impacts of climate change and have made a long-term commitment to eliminating food insecurity,” Vilsack continued. “If we can now put our global commitments into action at the national, village and farm level, we are confident we will succeed in making agriculture an important tool in eliminating the devastation caused by hunger and in combating global climate change” (12/16).

Also at the conference, the WHO called for health facilities to make an effort to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and noted health sectors’ “significant” carbon emissions, GMANews.TV reports. The WHO and Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition of health care systems and professionals, released a report highlighting climate change’s effect on human health. “A warmer and more variable climate threatens to lead to higher levels of some air pollutants, increase transmission of diseases through unclean water and contaminated food, to compromise agricultural production in some of the least developed countries, and increase the hazards of extreme weather,” the WHO notes (Abella, 12/17).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.