Food for thought
Written by Sabina Kadić-Mackenzie, associate partner
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
Grah. Anyone that has visited the Balkans would recognise its deep aroma of slow cooked pinto beans, onions, carrots, paprika and meat.
In the early 1990s, due to supply and cost effectiveness, it was a staple for many Yugoslav households. In time, and as a civil war raged, it became a symbol of the division between the haves and have nots. It wasn’t uncommon for a muslin to be placed over the bowl of delicious stew so that bread could be dipped into the juices. The beans and meat remained below, to be watered down day after day. By day five, I can testify that it tasted of very little, but it filled the belly and we were grateful for that.
At least we had grah.
Today, having steadily declined for a decade, world hunger is on the rise once more, affecting more than 820 million people. In the UK, the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the inequalities in our society, hitting hardest those who were already in the most vulnerable positions, manifesting itself in hunger for millions. Reports this week that over 100 children a week in England alone are admitted to hospital for malnutrition ought to spark widespread outrage but, like footage of queues for foodbanks and "the homeless" at Christmas time, it was a flash in the pan story that barely seemed to cause a stir.
We know there is more than enough food produced in the world to feed everyone, as evidenced, in part, by the 600 million people categorised as obese and the two billion who are overweight.
Yet still, we waste a third of all the food we produce, so much so that mountains of rotting food around the world are posing a threat to us all. While consumer demand for some supermarket food items has risen as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns, it hasn’t been enough to offset steep declines in consumption in restaurants, cafes, schools, and other settings. Such is the scale of food waste that the United Nations has mooted concerns about rising levels of methane during the pandemic, and its impact on the climate.
It is more than just the hungry who suffer. The failing global food system has a detrimental impact on human, animal, economic and environmental health on a monumental scale. If ignored, according to the UN Environment Programme, it exposes the world economy to ever-larger health and financial shocks as our climate changes and the global population grows.
There is considerable appetite for, and much talk about, “building back better” as we emerge from the current health crisis. Capitalising on the abundance of opportunities for change to address hunger and food insecurity must be part of our political and economic systems going forward. Only then will we have any hope of addressing the centuries-old plague of hunger around the world.
Twitter suffered a major security breach yesterday which saw hackers take control of the accounts of major public figures and corporations including Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Apple. The compromised accounts, which count tens of millions of followers, sent a series of tweets to followers proposing they transfer cryptocurrency to a specific bitcoin wallet to receive double in return. The coordinated hijacking of the verified communications streams of world leaders, celebrities and major corporations is unprecedented and represents a new and dangerous threat to the dissemination of legitimate information.
Hopes of developing a successful Covid-19 vaccine have been boosted after two leading groups achieved positive early results. In a phase-one trial involving about 1,000 British volunteers, a University of Oxford vaccine appears to have stimulated the desired response from the immune system. A similarly positive result was achieved by Moderna, an American biotech company. (£)
The sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protester that replaced the statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston has been removed by the council. The replacement, by artist Marc Quinn, was put up in the early hours of Wednesday. Bristol City Council tweeted to say it is being held at its museum “for the artist to collect or donate to our collection”. (£)
Business and economy
The number of workers on UK payrolls fell by 650,000 in June compared with March, according to official figures. The number of people claiming work-related benefits – including the unemployed – was 2.6 million.
UK banks fear that up to 800,000 businesses could be forced to close over the next year if they are unable to defer repayments on government-backed loans. The lending industry is proposing a system similar to the student loans scheme, where coronavirus loans can be converted into a tax debt repayable over a decade.
According to gross domestic product (GDP) data, China’s economy returned to growth in the second quarter after a deep slump at the start of the year, but domestic consumption and investment remained weak. The 3.2% bounce beat analyst expectations, although the lacklustre consumer appetite underscores government stimulus, which have been largely industry focused.
Wirecard’s former chief executive Markus Braun borrowed €35m from the payment group’s banking arm in January, it has emerged, triggering a clash with board members and an ongoing review from German financial watchdog Bafin.
Columns of note
In TIME, Raisa Bruner shines a light on the nightlife industry, which remains uniquely vulnerable to the long-term effects of Covid-19 and also uniquely left out of government recovery funding. Reopening timelines are fuzzy, a return to ‘normal’ impossible without a vaccine, and illicit raves are growing in popular resistance. The solution? Bruner explores every option, from Hazmat “rave suits” to virtual club nights.
Writing in The Times, Martin McCluskey argues that the Labour Party can’t win a UK general election without getting serious about Scotland. Now, in a cruel twist, Labour finds itself with a leader who may be electable in many parts of the UK and, indeed, in Scotland, but the Scottish party is holding him back. (£)
Source: New Yorker
What happened yesterday?
Stocks in Europe soared higher yesterday on the back of promising news of progress toward a Covid-19 vaccination. The FTSE 100 ended 1.83% higher at 6,292.65, while the more representative FTSE 250 closed 1.43% up at 17,420.55.
In company news:
Goldman Sachs has defied the coronavirus crisis to earn as much in the second quarter of 2020 as it did a year earlier. The Wall Street bank reported net income of $2.42bn for the year.
EU judges have quashed a European Commission order for Apple to pay back €14.3bn in taxes to Ireland in a landmark ruling that deals a big blow to competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s efforts to crack down on low-tax regimes in the bloc.
Dobbies Garden Centres has struck a deal to stock Sainsbury’s food, four years after the business was sold by Tesco. (£)
What's happening today?
K3 Business Technology Group
Tiziana Life Sc
UK Economic Announcements
(07:00) Claimant Count Rate
(07:00) Unemployment Rate
Int. Economic Announcements
(10:00) Balance of Trade (EU)
(12:45) ECB Interest Rate (EU)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Retail Sales (US)
(15:00) Business Inventories (US)
Did you know?
The global food system is responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all emissions from transport, heating, lighting and air conditioning combined.
House of Commons
Chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and minister for the Cabinet Office
Business questions to the leader of the house – Jacob Rees-Mogg
Non-domestic rating (public lavatories) bill: second reading
Restoration and renewal
Effect of Covid-19 on the operation of historic churches – Jim Shannon
House of Lords
Impact of digital platforms on the functioning of democracy - Lord Holmes of Richmond
implementation of recommendations in the report by the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody 'Keep Talking, Stay Safe: A Rapid Review of Prisoners' Experience under COVID-19' - Lord Harris of Haringey
Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on human trafficking in the UK - The Lord Bishop of Bristol
Supplies of personal protective equipment for hospitals and care homes, in the event of a second wave of cases of Covid-19 - Baroness Andrews
Orders and regulations
Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020 - Baroness Williams of Trafford
Agriculture Bill – Committee stage (day 4) - Lord Gardiner of Kimble
Ministerial statement (virtual)
Response to labour market statistics
The Care Promise