Author: Denis J Murphy

Comments (agricultural, environmental) to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 6th October, 2018

Sir Brian Heap,
Dr Jillian Lenné,
Professor Neil C. Turner,
Denis J Murphy,
Dr David Frape
“ Global warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty” . Summary and Conclusions The report of 48 th Session of the IPCC indicates how human activities must change during the next 12 years if the worst effects of global …



Denis J Murphy
In March 2018, an account of a remarkable experiment involving millions of smallholder farmers in China was published in the journal Nature by Cui et al. (Nature 555, 363-66, doi 10.1038/nature25785; 2018). The aim was to provide bespoke evidence-based advice to farmers on how to increase crop yields without the excessive use of fertilizers as has occurred in the past. Over the past thirty years the yield and efficiency of agricultural production in China have increased …


Ensuring the safety and reliability of foods and other products in agricultural supply chains. A case study involving vegetable oils.

Kirstie A Goggin,
Denis J Murphy
Summary The growing complexity of global supply chains means that ensuring the safety and authenticity of food and non-food agricultural products is an ever-increasing challenge. This article focuses on fats, which, together with proteins and carbohydrates, make up the bulk of the human diet. Over 86% of globally consumed edible fats are plant-derived (or vegetable) oils. In contrast, animal-derived fats account for about 14% of worldwide oil and fat consumption, mostly in developed …


Has agricultural biotechnology finally turned a corner?

Ivar Virgin,
Denis J Murphy
Policy proposals Governments, NGOs and other civil society representatives should engage in a comprehensive public debate on how advances in agbiotech, can benefit smallholders in developing countries by producing more sustainable food systems and improving nutrition in view of changing climate and resource scarcity. In particular genome editing in crop and livestock improvement should be accommodated.  Governments across the world should urgently address the issue of how …


What is the future for oil palm as a global crop?

Denis J Murphy
Summary The African oil palm, Elaeis guineensis, is the major global vegetable oil crop. Palm oil is consumed daily by over two billion people and can be found in about half of all products on sale in a typical supermarket. Increased demand for palm oil, particularly in Asia and Europe, has led to extensive conversion of tropical habitats into plantations. In some parts of Southeast Asia, this has had adverse ecological and environmental consequences that have led to calls for …


Targeting good agricultural advice to where it is really needed

Denis J Murphy
One of the most serious problems facing agriculture today is to ensure that adequate nutrition is provided to people around the world. In many developing countries, this difficulty is compounded by factors such as rising populations, environmental degradation, resource depletion, climatic variability, and by increasing volatility in the prices of food and many essential agricultural inputs. After a brief respite in the late 20th century, the number of people experiencing the kind of …


The complexities of global fertilizer use

Denis J Murphy
Most people, including many scientists, seem to believe that worldwide consumption of fertilizers is continually increasing in an unsustainable and environmentally damaging way. This view is particularly prevalent at the present time with farmers striving to increase crop yields to feed expanding world populations. Because the availability of the key nutrients, nitrogen, phosphate and potassium (NPK), is often rate limiting for plant growth, it seems obvious that the steady increase …