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Swansea to host major international conference on sustainable approach to food pest control

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Feeding a growing population while reducing the environmental impact is an urgent challenge, but a major international conference at Swansea University will help by bringing together experts in integrated pest management.

They will discuss new approaches to managing insect pests which will cut reliance on harmful chemical insecticides.

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Pests destroy up to 40 per cent of global crops and cost $220 billion in losses, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. Climate change increases the threat further as it makes it more likely that invasive pests can move into new territory.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is based on the principle that environmental issues and food production are inextricably linked.

It aims to encourage healthy crops with the least possible disruption to agricultural ecosystems. It focuses on natural pest control mechanisms and involves biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools being used together in a way that minimises economic, health and environmental risks.

To be effective, IPM also requires different sectors to work together, especially industry, academia and regulatory authorities.

Technology has transformed the field of pest control in recent years. Drones, electronic sensors, robotic crop inspectors and satellite imagery are becoming widely used to protect crops.

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Against this background, the Swansea event could not be more timely. The aim is to bring together everybody involved in the agribusiness chain, to present and discuss new innovations and how they are being implemented in crop protection.

Entitled “New IPM: A Modern and Multidisciplinary approach to Crop Protection”, the conference runs from 12-14 September. It is being hosted and organised by Swansea University in partnership with the International BioControl Manufacturers Association UK.

Amongst the topics that will feature are:

• Pest and disease monitoring
• Increasing plant growth and resilience
• Biopesticides – natural alternatives to chemical pesticides
• How different natural pest control measures can work together for greater impact
• Strains of microbes that have been identified but not yet fully assessed for their potential
• Networking and funding opportunities

The main conference programme runs on 12th and 13th September. This is followed on 14th by a networking event, organised by Swansea University’s Research and Innovation Services, which will be an opportunity for academics and businesses to forge links, with sessions on funding opportunities from UK and EU sources.

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Professor Tariq Butt of Swansea University, who is organising the event, said: “IPM is essential if we are to protect our food supply and our environment, which are two sides of the same coin.

“The problem is that too often IPM discussions focus on individual elements, such as the role of beneficial species or biopesticides, rather than the whole picture.

“At a practical level implementation of IPM relies on a whole set of accurate, timely and appropriate information, passed to a properly trained decision-maker who, ultimately, has access to a pest-management toolkit that is fit-for-purpose.

“To make all of this happen, it requires a combined effort and the collaboration of industry, academia and the regulatory authorities.

“This conference will provide an opportunity for representatives from all of these stakeholders to communicate and build productive relationships. This will help us develop a new approach to IPM, which is essential if we are to succeed in protecting our food and our environment.

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“We will also be revealing plans for the region’s first Natural Products BioHUB, a collaboration between industry and academia to develop new natural products and businesses, creating jobs and training opportunities.”

Dr Ian Baxter of the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association UK (IBMA UK) said: “IBMA UK is delighted to be co-organising this event with Swansea University. The last two years have been particularly challenging for all of us, but this has not been reflected in a slow-down in the rate of technology adoption by growers – if anything, it has been expedited by the obvious pressures on resources.

“This is a perfect moment to get together and exchange information on the latest advances in New IPM.”

(Lead image: Swansea University)

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Food & Drink

Swansea rated the best place in the UK for a Thai Takeaway

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person eating using chopsticks

A new study has revealed that Swansea is the best place to find a top quality Thai takeaway in the UK.

This is from HouseholdQuotes who analysed Just Eat data in 523 locations across the UK to discover the best places for 20 cuisine types.

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While coming top for Thai takeaways, Swansea ranked a solid 146 out of 523 UK towns and cities for its overall takeaway offering.

While other Swansea Bay towns didn’t rank quite so highly, if you’re after a different kind of cuisine Port Talbot placed 29th for Pizza.

Indian is Llanelli’s speciality takeaway of choice, with the town ranking 72 in the UK.

Bridgend take-out lovers head for fish and chips, with the town coming in at 225 out f the 523 UK towns and cities surveyed.

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Aldi retains title of ‘UK’s cheapest supermarket’

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As Brits continue to look for ways to cut household costs, consumer group Which? has yet again named Aldi as the cheapest UK supermarket.

With savings of £12.62 compared to the average Big Four basket, Aldi says its shoppers can be confident they’re getting the best deal.

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Which? conducted its monthly Cheapest Supermarket price comparison and looked at the cost of a basket of 47 items, including groceries and household essentials, with Aldi coming in cheapest at just £74.23.

The same shopping cost a whopping £16.91 more at Morrisons and £12.54 more at Tesco.

The independent consumer group’s research also found Aldi to be a massive £25.23 cheaper than the most expensive supermarket, Waitrose, for an equivalent basket of items.

The full results of the research are as follows:

RankRetailerAverage £
1Aldi74.23
2Lidl75.61
3Asda83.22
4Sainsbury’s86.27
5Tesco86.77
6Morrisons91.14
7Ocado95.33
8Waitrose99.46

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi, said: “We know that across the nation many families are finding things tough due to the cost of living crisis. At Aldi, we’re determined to help by keeping costs low and quality high for our customers. We’re thrilled to yet again be named the UK’s cheapest supermarket.”

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(Lead image: Aldi)

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Food & Drink

Morrisons becomes first supermarket to launch its own carbon neutral eggs

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Morrisons has become the first supermarket to launch its own line of carbon neutral eggs as part of its commitment to be directly supplied by ‘zero emission’ British farms by 2030, five years ahead of the rest of the supermarket industry.

In stores now, Morrisons new carbon neutral ‘Planet Friendly Eggs’ come from Morrisons farms where hens are fed a soya-free diet of insects – which are in turn fed on food waste from its bakery, fruit and vegetable sites.

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This pioneering ‘circular waste’ feeding scheme, powered by Better Origin technology, reduces deforestation caused by soya production and negates the carbon emissions emitted from transporting this soya.

The egg farm where the first stock of Planet Friendly Eggs will originate also has a large wind turbine, 50kWh solar panels, and a carbon sequestration programme to offset any remaining emissions on the farm – with 20 percent of its land planted with trees.

Morrisons says it has been working with its farmers to create net zero carbon farm ‘models’ that look at neutralising emissions through the whole lifecycle and footprint of the farm. Planet Friendly eggs are the first product to come out of these models, with sustainable beef, lamb and fruit and vegetables to follow.

A report by the University of Cambridge has confirmed the carbon neutral status of Morrisons new Planet Friendly Eggs, having analysed all carbon emissions in the eggs’ production and those which are offset on Morrisons first carbon neutral egg farm. The report considers the holistic production of the eggs, including the Better Origin X1 insect growing unit and food waste transport, the sourcing of locally grown grain and the hen housing and care.

The product is also set to be the first to feature the British Lion Egg green stamp on its eggs to indicate the lower environmental impact to customers.

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Morrisons Planet Friendly Eggs cost 30p each or £1.50 for a pack of six. They are initially available in 50 Yorkshire stores and Morrisons new lower environmental impact store in Little Clacton, with a national rollout planned for 2023.

Sophie Throup, Head of Agriculture at Morrisons, said: “This is our first carbon neutral product and there will be many more to come. It’s all part of our drive to be directly supplied only by ‘zero emission’ British farms by 2030. We know our customers consider the environmental impact of the food they eat and want affordable zero emission produce. Eggs are a regular weekly purchase for most households and so we’re thrilled that after 18 months of hard work with our farmers – these eggs are finally hitting our shelves.”

Ian Bamford, Commercial Director Centre for Industrial Sustainability at the University of Cambridge, said: “We were very pleased to have the opportunity to review and analyse the approach that Morrisons have taken to calculating the carbon impact of several of their egg producers. It was clear that the mitigation actions that had been put in place by the first farm to produce carbon neutral eggs enabled them to meet that goal.”

Mark Williams, Chief Executive for the British Egg Industry Council, said: “It’s great to see that Morrisons has launched a carbon neutral British Lion egg pack under its own brand, in a first for a UK retailer. Eggs generally have a significantly lower environmental impact than other animal proteins and they are a highly nutritious, natural and great tasting choice for all the family. We look forward to seeing more green Lions in the near future.”

An insect ‘mini farm’ was introduced onto the egg farm to feed the hens. The ‘mini farm’ container, in which millions of insects are kept, was developed and powered by Better Origin. Each container can help feed 32,000 free range hens and receives three tonnes of waste from Morrisons fruit and vegetable site each week. The insects can grow to 5,000 times their initial body mass in less than 14 days.

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Fotis Fotiadis, CEO & Founder at Better Origin, said: “We are thrilled to see Morrisons introduce a carbon neutral product, powered by our technology, to the public. The current food supply chain isn’t sustainable in the long term and while it is certainly effective, it’s coming at a cost to the environment. Our ambition at Better Origin is to change that by creating a more sustainable circular food chain, so to finally see the first carbon neutral product from Morrisons hit the shelves is testament to the incredible work of the Morrisons team involved.”

(Lead image: Morrisons)

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