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SDG 2: Zero hunger

SGD 2 zero hunger icon

Eliminate hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Luke's goal is to promote sustainable food production and improve the conditions for Finnish primary production. Our research focuses on both the Finnish food system and the development of food systems in developing countries, such as Africa. We are exploring the potential of new crops in food production. The aim is to diversify cultivation, promote a healthier diet and reduce negative environmental impacts.

Luke works on statutory genetic resources and research related to genetic resources. Statutory genetic resources work maintains the genetic diversity of species used in primary production and promotes their sustainable use in, among other things, research, breeding and education. The protection of genetic resources in primary production is based on the National Genetic Resources Programme for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Luke coordinates its implementation.

This chapter describes, through example projects, how we develop responsible food chains. We also measure the climate impact of food products and production using life cycle assessment.

2.4 Sustainable food production systems

Ensure sustainable food production systems and implement adaptive farming practices that increase productivity and production, helping to protect ecosystems, strengthen resilience to climate change, extreme weather events, droughts, floods and other disasters and progressively improve soil quality by 2030.

Responsible food chains for the dairy, bakery and meat industries

Luke's VEKKA project (2020–2023) develops responsible food chains, focusing on identifying and managing the environmental impact of companies, social responsibility and animal welfare.

The project's aim is to promote sustainable work in the food chain and primary production. It develops comparable responsibility criteria and indicators covering the entire production chain for the dairy, bakery and meat industries. The indicators are linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals Framework and can also be used in other parts of the food sector.

Life cycle research contributes to the assessment of the climate impact of food production

Life cycle assessments (LCAs) are needed to measure and compare the climate impacts of different parts of the food chain. Numerous life cycle studies have been carried out to assess the climate impact of food products and to identify the most sustainable forms of production.

In 2021, Luke calculated the climate impact of fish caught and farmed in Finland, i.e. the carbon footprint, and estimated how much the increased consumption of fish would reduce the climate impact of the Finnish diet.

The calculation showed that the climate impact of domestically farmed rainbow trout fillet is smaller than that of pork and beef, but slightly higher than that of chicken. The climate impact of fishery products is lower than that of any meat product.

The impact of increasing the consumption of fish products on the climate impact of diet was evaluated previously. The consumption of fish in diet was increased to meet nutritional recommendations. Such a diet would have a 5-6% lower climate impact.

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Pulses towards a sustainable food system and health

Reducing meat production and consumption through food crops is central to the planetary diet and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Legumes play a key role in the transition, as they can replace meat proteins and improve protein self-sufficiency in feed production.

The transition to a healthy and sustainable food system can be promoted by developing domestic legume production and increasing the share of legumes in diet and feed use.

Luke's research evaluates the role of legumes in the food system from field to table, i.e. from primary production and the processing of raw materials for the food industry to consumers. Legume by-products and food loss are also considered.

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2.5 To conserve the genetic diversity of domestic species

To conserve the genetic diversity of seeds, crops and farmed animals and their related wild species, e.g. through managed and decentralised national, regional and international seed and plant banks and promote the development of genetic resources and related access to genetic resources and related genetic information and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their use in an internationally agreed manner by 2020.

At Luke, characteristics of genomes from Finnish indigenous animal breeds are studied

Luke examines the special features and diversity of genomes from the Finnish indigenous breeds using genomic sequencing and bioinformatics methods. Efforts are made to provide new information on the genetic diversity and specific characteristics of breeds to be preserved. Data are needed for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources.

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Luke supports the prevention of crossbreeding between semi-domesticated reindeer and Finnish forest reindeer

Preventing crossbreeding between semi-domesticated reindeer and wild Finnish forest reindeer preserves the genetic variation of both species and the wild deer population.

Genetic methods are also used for the conservation of Finnish forest reindeer. Luke has advanced research in the field of genetics by developing methods for genomic research. We generate new information on the genetic variation of reindeer and Finnish forest reindeer, structures of their genomes, effects of natural selection, and reindeer genetic resources.