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How filling the UK’s unused land with fruit and veg could help make us and our environment healthier – and help fight inequality

A ‘right to grow’ law encouraging more locally-grown food could boost health, community pride and food supply resilience.

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Campaigners are calling for the right to grow fruit and veg in the UK's unused public spaces. RawPixel

Communities should have a right to improve the unloved public spaces around them by growing fruit and vegetables, according to a new campaign that’s calling for a “right to grow” law in the UK.

This law, akin to the Countryside & Rights of Way Act that first gave the public the right to roam across parts of Britain’s countryside in 2000, aims to get local councils and landowners – such as the NHS and water companies – to open up parts of land in towns and cities for cultivation by local citizens.

Initiatives like Incredible Edible, who are leading the campaign, have been successfully taking over public spaces with food growing projects for over a decade now. We set out to understand how opening up these spaces to anyone who wants to grow food could contribute to improving environmental, physical and mental health across the country.

The security of our national food supplies in the UK is a question of growing importance. The pandemic and Brexit have given us a taste of what food shortages can be like: and with the invasion of Ukraine, and the cost of fuel and fertilisers rising, more turbulent times seem inevitable. Since 84% of fruit and 46% of vegetables eaten in the UK are imported, these vital food groups are particularly vulnerable to supply crises.

Plants in a planter, with a sign reading 'The revolution will be fertilised!'
Incredible Edible launched in 2007. Dunk/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Our research suggests that if all the green space across England, Scotland and Wales was used to grow food, it could provide around 40% of the fruit and veg currently produced in and imported into the UK. Publicly owned land makes up just under half of total green space, so even if just a small fraction of public spaces was used, it could make a huge difference to the availability of healthy food.

While this kind of urban agriculture is unlikely to ever replace conventional farming, it could play a big role in boosting food supply resilience and perhaps help ease some of the UK’s growing food insecurity.

Harvesting health

People get more than just fresh fruit and vegetables when going outside to grow: there’s now heaps of evidence for the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in nature. Our research suggests that engaging in food growing might not only bring some of these benefits, but also lead to making healthier and more sustainable food choices.

Urban growers in our surveys were more likely to have a higher quality diet when compared to non-growers. Our work suggested that this might be because growers care more about the food they eat, where it comes from and where it was grown.

Enhancing ecosystems

Nowadays, our food tends to come with an environmental cost. The agriculture and food sector plays a huge role in climate change, accounting for around a third of greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture also has many other detrimental environmental effects, including being the primary contributor to biodiversity loss and a major driver of water quality problems.

The jury is still out when it comes to whether urban growing has a lighter environmental footprint than conventional growing, with a recent study suggesting we need better data to decide. But as well as producing healthier, more local food, urban growing also changes the environment of the city itself.

Our recent review of the evidence to date suggests that urban food growing spaces like farms and allotments can deliver as diverse a range of ecosystem benefits as other urban green spaces such as parks and school grounds. They can help clean the air, regulate local climates, store more carbon, cut the risk of flooding and encourage biodiversity to flourish.

Growing food in towns and cities could be a great way to make the most of our land, and at the same time address the pressing challenges we face when it comes to food, health, social and environmental inequalities. As acknowledged by the appointment of the House of Lords Land Use in England Committee earlier this year, deciding how to best use our land is a growing national priority.

We need land that supports better diets and helps lift people out of food poverty. We need land that fights climate change by reinforcing carbon sequestration and encouraging biodiversity, while still providing affordable homes and thriving places to live and work.

All this means we cannot afford to overlook those little fragments of land in towns and cities that are currently lying forgotten and unused. A “right to grow” law could be one way to bring these to life, while empowering people who love where they live to help improve it.

Jess Davies receives funding from UKRI and the European Commission.

Charlotte Hardman receives funding from UKRI (BBSRC, ESRC, NERC), the European Commission, and the American Beverage Association.

Sofia Kourmpetli receives funding from BBSRC and InnovateUK.

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Government

Cruise Line Drops Pre-Cruise Covid Testing Rule

The major cruise lines walk a delicate line. They need to take the actual steps required to keep their passengers safe and they also need to be aware of…

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The major cruise lines walk a delicate line. They need to take the actual steps required to keep their passengers safe and they also need to be aware of how things look to the outside public. It's a mix of practical covid policy balanced with covid theater.

You have to do the right thing -- and Royal Caribbean International (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report, and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report have been doing that with very meticulous protocols-- but you also have to show the general public you're taking the pandemic seriously. The cruise industry has been under the microscope of both public perception and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) since covid first appeared.

That's not because you're likely to get infected on a cruise ship than at a concert, sporting event, theme park, restaurant, or any other crowded space. It's because when you get sick at one of those locations nobody can pinpoint the source of your infection

Cruises last from 3 days to 7 days or even longer and that means that some people will get covid onboard and that will be blamed on the cruise industry. To mitigate that Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian have rigid protocols in place that require passengers 12 and over to be vaccinated as well as pre-cruise covid tests taken no more than two days before your cruise leaves.

Once cruise line has dropped that testing requirement (at least on a few sailings) and that could lead Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian to follow. 

Sina Schuldt/picture alliance via Getty

Holland America Drops Some Covid Testing

As the largest cruise lines sailing from the U.S., Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian don't want to be the first to make major covid policy changes. They acted more or less in tandem when it came to loosening, then dropping mask rules and have generally followed the lead of the CDC, even when that agency's rules became optional.

Now, Holland America cruise line has dropped pre-cruise covid testing on a handful of cruises. It's a minor move, but it does provide cover and precedent for Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian to eventually do the same.

"Holland America Line becomes the first US-based cruise line to remove testing for select cruises. Unfortunately for those taking a cruise from the United States, the new protocols are only in place for certain cruises onboard the company’s latest ship, the Rotterdam, in Europe," Cruisehive reported.

The current CDC guidelines do recommend pre-cruise testing, but the cruise lines into following those rules. By picking cruises sailing out of Europe, Holland America avoids picking a fight with the federal agency just yet, but it will be able to gather data as to whether the pre-cruise testing actually helps.

Holland America has not changed its vaccination requirements for those cruises which mirror the 12-and-up rule used by Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian.

Some guests have called for the end of the testing requirement because they believe it's more theater than precaution because people can test and then contract covid while traveling to their cruise.

The Current Cruise Protocols Work

Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley does expect changes to come in his cruise line's covid protocols, and he talked about them during Royal Caribbean's recent President's Cruise, the Royal Caribbean Blog reported.

"I think pre cruise testing is going to be around for another couple of months," Bayley told passengers during a question and answer session. "We obviously want it to go back to normal, but we're incredibly cognizant of our responsibilities to keep our crew, the communities and our guests safe."

People do still get covid onboard despite the crew being 100% vaccinated and all passengers 12 and over being vaccinated, but the protocols have worked well when it comes to preventing serious illness.

Bayley said that the CDC shared some information with him in a call.

"The cruise industry sailing out of the US ports over the past 12 months and how many people have been hospitalized with Covid and how many deaths occurred from Covid from people who'd sailed on the industry's ships, which is in the millions," he said, "And the number of people who died from COVID who'd sailed on ships over the past year was two."

That success may be why the major cruise lines are reluctant to make changes. The current rules, even if they're partially for show, have been incredibly effective.

"Two is terrible. But but but against the context of everything we've seen, that's it's truly been a remarkable success." he added.

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Tesla Rivals Challenge Its Lead as Nio Sets Encouraging Record

Tesla’s rivals are not even coming close to producing and delivering EVs at the same rate as the Austin, Texas-based market leader.

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Tesla's rivals are not even coming close to producing and delivering EVs at the same rate as the Austin, Texas-based market leader.

Electric vehicle makers have been struggling over the last two years to produce and deliver cars, trucks and SUVs despite obstacles such as supply chain disruptions, semiconductor shortages and factory shutdowns caused by the covid pandemic.

The industry's leading EV manufacturer Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report on July 2 said that plant closures at its Shanghai gigafactory in April and May and supply chain disruptions led to a smaller number of deliveries than expected in its second quarter ending June 30 with 254,695, which was 26.7% higher than the same period in 2021, but 17.7% lower than its record of 310,048 delivered in the first quarter of 2021. Analysts were originally expecting about 295,000 deliveries.

Tesla's production declined to 258,580 vehicles in the second quarter compared to 305,407 in the first quarter. It had produced 305,840 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Tesla's rivals are not even coming close to producing and delivering EVs at the same rate as the Austin, Texas-based market leader. But they keep trying.

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Tesla Rivals Struggle to Produce and Deliver Volume of EVs

Tesla rival Nio  (NIO) - Get NIO Inc. American depositary shares each representing one Class A 蔚来汽车 Report on July 1 said that it had delivered 12,961 vehicles in June for a 60.3% year-over-year increase and its highest number of monthly deliveries ever. The company also reported 25,059 EVs delivered in the three months ending June 2022, increasing by 14.4% year-over-year. Nio has delivered a cumulative 217,897 EVs as of June 30.

NIO on June 15 rolled out its ES7, a new mid-large five-seat smart electric SUV, which is the first SUV product based on NIO's latest technology platform Technology 2.0. NIO also launched the 2022 ES8, ES6 and EC6 equipped with the upgraded digital cockpit domain controller and sensing suite, enhancing the computing and perception capabilities as well as digital experience of the vehicles. The company expects to start deliveries of the ES7 and the ES8, ES6 and EC6 in August.

Chinese EV maker XPeng  (XPEV) - Get XPeng Inc. American depositary shares each representing two Class A 小鹏汽车 Report on July 1 said it delivered 15,295 vehicles in June, a 133% increase year-over-year; 34,422 in the second quarter ending June 30 for a 98% increase year-over-year and 68,983 in the first six months of the year for a 124% increase year-over year.

The Guangzhou, China-based company said in August it will begin accepting orders for its new G9 SUV with an official launch in September.

Beijing-based Li Auto  (LI) - Get Li Auto Inc. Report on July 1 said it delivered 13,024 EVs in June, a 68.9% increase year-over-year and 28,687 in the second quarter ending June 30 for a 63.2% increase year-over-year. The company on June 21 began taking orders for its Li L9 SUV and recorded 30,000 orders as of June 24, according to a statement. Test drives will begin July 16 with deliveries beginning by the end of August.

GM Follows Behind Tesla and Other Rivals

General Motors  (GM) - Get General Motors Company Report had 7,300 EV sales in the second quarter, according to a July 1 statement. The Detroit automaker's sales included deliveries of the BrightDrop Zevo 600 delivery van, GMC Hummer EV pickup, and the resumption of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV production.

GM said the Cadillac Lyriq production is accelerating, with initial deliveries in process. Orders for the 2023 model year sold out within hours and preorders for the 2024 model opened on June 22.

The company said it will gradually increase production of the Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV Pickup in the second half of 2022. 

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Spread & Containment

Tesla EV deliveries fall nearly 18% in second quarter following China factory shutdown

Tesla delivered 254,695 electric vehicles globally in the second quarter, a nearly 18% drop from the previous period as supply chain constraints, China’s…

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Tesla delivered 254,695 electric vehicles globally in the second quarter, a nearly 18% drop from the previous period as supply chain constraints, China’s extended COVID-19 lockdown and challenges around opening factories in Berlin and Austin took their toll on the company.

This is the first time in two years that Tesla deliveries, which were 310,048 in the first period this year, have fallen quarter over quarter. Tesla deliveries were up 26.5% from the second quarter last year.

The quarter-over-quarter reduction is in line with a broader supply chain problem in the industry. It also illustrates the importance of Tesla’s Shanghai factory to its business. Tesla shuttered its Shanghai factory multiple times in March due to rising COVID-19 cases that prompted a government shutdown.

Image Credits: Tesla/screenshot

The company said Saturday it produced 258,580 EVs, a 15% reduction from the previous quarter when it made 305,407 vehicles.

Like in other quarters over the past two years, most of the produced and delivered vehicles were Model 3 and Model Ys. Only 16,411 of the produced vehicles were the older Model S and Model X vehicles.

Tesla said in its released that June 2022 was the highest vehicle production month in Tesla’s history. Despite that milestone, the EV maker as well as other companies in the industry, have struggled to keep apace with demand as supply chain problems persist.

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