Top Stories

October 23, 2020

Supply Chain 

Estée Lauder tracks vanilla production with new tech

The Estée Lauder Companies will introduce vanilla that has been traced throughout the supply chain using blockchain technology to more than 125 of its Aveda-brand products in spring 2021. The company is working with ingredient supplier LMR Naturals by IFF, one of its Madagascan vanilla suppliers Biovanilla, and blockchain scale-up Wholechain, to pilot the technology, which will involve some 450 smallholder farms. This should help the company to better predict and respond to supply chain issues like fluctuations in weather and price, and ensure farmers receive the pay and training they need to adopt more sustainable practices. Previously, vanilla supplied to Estee Lauder was traced using stamps embossed directly onto the bean. The digitisation of this process aims to prevent tampering risks or missing information and simplify communication with the end-consumer. (Edie)* 

Gig Economy 

Uber and Lyft ‘likely broke law’ by classifying drivers as contractors, court rules

A California appeals court has ruled there is “overwhelming likelihood” ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft violated labour law by misclassifying drivers as contractors rather than employees. The court ruling orders Uber and Lyft to comply with the AB5 law, which requires companies to classify drivers as employees and provide them with minimum wage and benefits. The ruling comes 11 days before an election that could completely shift how AB5 is applied. Proposition 22, funded with more than $180m from companies including Uber, Lyft and Instacart, would carve out an exemption for gig workers from AB5, providing its own minimum wage and benefits, which some labour groups have criticized. (The Guardian) 


Walmart sues US government to pre-empt possible DoJ opioid lawsuit

The US’s largest retailer Walmart has sued the US government to pre-empt a possible Department of Justice (DoJ) lawsuit, arguing federal authorities are putting its pharmacists in an impossible position over how to handle opioid prescriptions. Walmart accuses officials of being more focused on “chasing headlines than fixing the crisis”. The lawsuit claims that the DoJ was intending to sue Walmart for filling opioid prescriptions from hundreds of doctors that the US government had identified as being “problematic”. In the lawsuit, Walmart said the DoJ and the Drug Enforcement Administration were putting its pharmacists in an untenable position, arguing that it faced action from US states for refusing to fill opioid prescriptions from licensed doctors and now action from the federal government for filling too many. (Financial Times)* 


Common Agricultural Policy to remain part of EU’s biodiversity funding, despite criticism

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), voted on this week in the European Parliament and Council, will remain the biggest funding source for biodiversity protection schemes at EU level, despite claims that it has encouraged intensive and damaging farming. The Council voted to ring-fence 20% of direct payments from the CAP for ‘eco-schemes’ to ‘green’ the policy, but environmentalists, including youth activist Greta Thunberg, say this is not enough. The EU Parliament rejected proposals to cut subsidies for factory farming and did not raise funding levels for environmental measures. This is despite new research, State of Nature in the EU, from the European Environment Agency which shows over 50% of pollution pressure on biodiversity to have come from agricultural practices and outlines that the current CAP does not provide enough funding for biodiversity protection. (Edie)* 

Agriculture/ Environment 

Swapping tenth of meat intake for veg could free up land size of Germany, says study

A study from alternative meat investor Blue Horizon and professional services firm PwC has found that if 10% of the global population switched from eating meat to plant-based alternatives, 176 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided annually. On top of generating this emissions reduction the switch would also free up 38 million hectares of land, roughly the size of Germany, and save 8.3 billion cubic metres of water annually. Global meat consumption is now at its highest ever levels and is continuing to grow. An estimated 38% of habitable land is used for industrial animal agriculture worldwide, whereas plant-based protein requires significantly less water and land and produces far lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions compared to industrial animal agriculture. (Business Green) 


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