The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) announced the winners of the 2017 Young Earth Solutions (YES!) competition, which inspires young researchers under 35 to conduct innovative studies to meet global research needs on the sustainability of food systems. This year, two teams were selected for the award.
Joana Abou Rizk (University of Hohenheim, Germany) from Lebanon and Jeremias Theresa (University of Hohenheim, Germany) from Germany won for their project Maternal and Child Nutrition Among Refugees and Host Communities in Greater Beirut, Lebanon: A Focus on Anemia.
The first 1,000 days of life are the most impactful in a child’s development. Access to adequate amounts of nutritious food is a growing concern in Lebanon, which has the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world. The project studies mother/child pairs of Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities to determine the underlying causes of anemia in these populations and uses sustainable nutrition education to improve maternal and child nutrition.
“A great path to sustainably rebuild post-crisis Syria and improve the nutrition situation in Lebanon is by raising healthy generations from early life,” say Rizk and Theresa.
The second winner is Laura Garzoli (National Research Council, Institute of Ecosystem Study) from Italy for her project YES!BAT – Sustainable Rice Fields: Say YES! to Bats. Although rice is a primary staple food, its production uses pesticides that can place the environment and human health at risk. The YES!BAT project uses an Integrated Pest Management strategy to eliminate pesticide use by encouraging bats to roost in rice fields. Bat colonization is being studied in Piedmont, Italy, and the project will raise awareness of the importance of bats and the ecological value of traditional landscapes.
“I truly believe we should rethink our shared awareness on the close link among food-quality, environmental sustainability, and life-quality,” says Garzoli.
Winners receive a one-year research grant to support their projects. All YES! finalists are welcomed into the BCFN Alumni Association. Together, they act as a global network committed to sharing experiences and developing an even stronger impact on changing the food system. Through their own research, work, or business ventures, each of the BCFN Alumni contributes to a more sustainable food system in their own way and place.
“Personally, I like to think that this is only the beginning,” says Francesca Allievi, President of the BCFN YES! Alumni Network, “I am confident that the BCFN Alumni will be able to achieve great things, both individually and as a group, and that each of the actions we are carrying out will be a small yet important contribution to an increased sustainability of the food system.”
Founded in 2009, the BCFN Foundation is a private, nonprofit, apolitical institution. Working as a multidisciplinary and independent think tank, it analyzes the cause-and-effect relationships economic, scientific, social, and environmental factors have on food. The BCFN Foundation produces valuable scientific content that can be used to inform and help people to make conscious choices every day about food and nutrition, health, and sustainability.