U.S. meat consumption has peaked. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that meat eating across the country fell from the 2004 high point of 184 pounds (83 kilograms) per person to 171 pounds in 2011. Early estimates for 2012 project a further reduction in American meat eating to 166 pounds, making for a 10 percent drop over the eight-year period. For a society that lives high on the food chain, this new trend could signal the end of meat's mealtime dominance.
Total U.S. meat consumption peaked in 2007 at 55 billion pounds and has fallen each year since. In 2012, consumption is expected to drop to 52 billion pounds, the lowest level in more than a decade. MORE
Researchers attending one of the world's major academic conferences 'are scared to death of the anti-science lobby'
Most scientists, on achieving high office, keep their public remarks to the bland and reassuring. Last week Nina Fedoroff, the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), broke ranks in a spectacular manner.
She confessed that she was now "scared to death" by the anti-science movement that was spreading, uncontrolled, across the US and the rest of the western world.
"We are sliding back into a dark era," she said. "And there seems little we can do about it. I am profoundly depressed at just how difficult it has become merely to get a realistic conversation started on issues such as climate change or genetically modified organisms."
The remarks of Fedoroff, one of the world's most distinguished agricultural scientists, are all the more remarkable given their setting. MORE
The world's first "test-tube" meat, a hamburger made from a cow's stem cells, will be produced this fall, Dutch scientist Mark Post told a major science conference on Sunday.
Post's aim is to invent an efficient way to produce skeletal muscle tissue in a laboratory that exactly mimics meat, and eventually replace the entire meat-animal industry.
The ingredients for his first burger are "still in a laboratory phase," he said, but by fall "we have committed ourselves to make a couple of thousand of small tissues, and then assemble them into a hamburger."
Post, chair of physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, said his project is funded with 250,000 euros from an anonymous private investor motivated by "care for the environment, food for the world, and interest in life-transforming technologies." MORE
Plantagon Breaks Ground on its First ‘Plantscraper’ Vertical Farm in Sweden!
Several years ago a Swedish-American company called Plantagon unveiled plans for a series of massive skyscraper greenhouses that stood to transform urban farming in large cities. While the spiraling vertical farms seemed too good to be true at the time, Plantagon just broke ground on its very first vertical farm this week in Linkoping, Sweden! The “Plantscraper” will grow and supply fresh vegetables while creating solutions to some of the most vexing city pollution issues.
Plantagon seems to have traded in its initial geodesic dome design for a sheer tower that both contains and showcases the plants growing inside. This prototype building will be called the International Centre of Excellence for Urban Agriculture, and it will be a place for scientists to test new technologies aimed at improving urban farming.
Inside the massive glass walls, vegetables will be grown in pots and then transitioned to trays positioned around a giant central helix. The plants grow as the trays slowly migrate down the central core and are ready to be harvested once they reach the bottom. Plant residue and manure will be collected along the way and transformed into biogas to run the heating and cooling systems of the greenhouse. Scientists want the vertical farm to not only grow food but also help in developing sustainable solutions for energy, heat, waste, and water issues of daily city life. MORE
NOUAKCHOTT , Feb 15, 2012 (IPS) - Seven out of the eight governments in the Sahel – the arid zone between the Sahara desert in North Africa and Sudan’s Savannas in the south – have taken the unprecedented step of declaring emergencies as 12 million people in the region are threatened by hunger.
Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria have all called for international assistance to prevent yet another hunger crisis on the continent. Only Senegal, which will hold presidential elections later this month, has refrained from announcing an emergency, largely for political reasons.
"It’s a catastrophic year. The drought is severe. We need urgent intervention to prevent a famine," warns Ahmed Weddady, national director in the Ministry of Water and Sanitation of Mauritania, the country with the world’s least amount of potable water, which suffered the worst harvest shortfall in the region. A third of its population already suffers severe food insecurity.
After a drought destroyed the majority of the harvest in the Sahel late last year, rural populations throughout the region have started to run out of food in early February. That’s a good six months before the next harvest is expected.MORE
Production factors result in more greenhouse gases than regular diesel.
The only green in biodiesel fuel is the money producers make from it, new research has revealed.
Most biodiesel production is making climate change worse not better, studies show. Biodiesel from palm oil plantations may be the world's dirtiest fuel—far worse than burning diesel made from oil when the entire production life cycle is considered.
Biodiesel made from the many palm oil plantations on Indonesia's peatlands have a "carbon debt of 200 years", said Louis Verchot, a research scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor, Indonesia.
This means it will take 200 years of continuous biodiesel production from these palm oil plantations to pay off the "carbon debt" that results from land conversion and indirect land use changes.
The right circumstances for growing biofuels are much more limited than people realise. MORE
I am shocked and disappointed by the OFA stance against windturbine development on farm land in the province.
Several years ago the farmers and landowners along the Bruce to Milton electrical corridor asked the OFA to undertake action to study the impact of these power lines on farm land values.
We were not against the new corridor but our land was being expropriated so that Bruce Power could get electricity to the market. We simply wanted fair value for hosting one of the world's largest electrical corridors and a fair study as to the economic impact of this new line on our existing land.
The OFA sat on its hands and did nothing, except to tell us what we already knew to hire a lawyer. The only person who offered any help was the lady who runs the Hanover office of the OFA.
Why is the OFA suddenly so concerned about windturbines? Their comments about electrical costs make no sense when they did absolutely nothing about the 180km power line with over 400 towers that cost taxpayers over $700 million.
Everyone wants to point a finger at somebody else, but as long as we all use electricity, we are going to have to figure out how to generate cleaner electricity. Farmers know best the impact of hot weather and low rainfall when we see crops fail and a lack of snow cover dry out the land.
Coal generation has to go because our climate is changing. Hydro electric dams create huge watershed issues including the flooding of farmlands. Nuclear powered electricity reduces carbon emissions but now we have to find a storage place for all that spent fuel and that will cost a lot of money
In an idyllic make believe world, the electricity that runs our homes, businesses and lights would happen without any impact to the air, land or water. We don't live in that world.
We all live on the same planet and to do nothing about global warming or acid rain is just pushing a problem to our children and their children. I propose that we hold a moratorium on windturbine talk for five years and then revisit and measure the economic and environmental benefits.
Why five years?
Well that was about the same amount of time that it took for my parents generation to fight WWII -imagine the world we would live in if that generation had decided that saving the free world wasn't worth their time or sacrifice.
Silicon Valley start-ups are trying to re-create the milkman.
A host of new tech companies are creating ways to buy food directly from local food producers, cutting out grocery stores and some of the middlemen. They are also providing new services to educate consumers about what they are eating, down to the growing conditions of a carrot.
Founded by alumni from tech giants like Google Inc., the companies are using the same sorts of online tools that changed how people rent an apartment or find a date to make it easier to buy locally grown food. They are part of a growing class of start-ups targeting food and eating, from sites that deliver celebrity-chef meals to your door to a business that aims to turn roofs into vegetable patches. Many are steering clear of delivering fresh foods to your door, trying to avoid the pitfalls that felled some food-delivery companies in the past.
Among the new entrants is Farmigo Inc., a San Francisco company that has 50,000 subscribers after launching late last year. Founded by Microsoft Corp. and SAP AG veteran Benzi Ronen, Farmigo allows consumers to search for and buy produce and meat from local farms that deliver to pick-up locations in their neighborhood, including offices like Yelp Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google. MORE
Fresh way to feed your family
BERLIN — German researchers announced Tuesday they had discovered a process to make the most effective anti-malaria drug cheaper and easier to produce in large life-saving quantities.
The breakthrough offers hope to the more than 200 million malaria sufferers worldwide, especially in poor countries, by making artemisinin more affordable, the Max Planck Society said. "There is an effective treatment against malaria but it is not accessible to all of the more than 200 million people worldwide who are affected by the disease," it said in a written statement.
"Millions, especially in the developing world, cannot afford the combination drug preparation, which consists mainly of artemisinin," it added. In addition, it said the medication's price varied because of the seasonal nature of the basic ingredient which mainly grows in China and Vietnam.
Chemists at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in the eastern city of Potsdam and Berlin's Free University have developed a way to synthesise the artemisinin molecule using oxygen and light. "The production of the drug is therefore no longer dependent on obtaining the active ingredient from plants," one of the two researchers, Peter Seeberger, said in the statement. MORE
A review suggests that the Amazon rainforest may be changing, courtesy of human impacts on the region's weather
The Amazon rainforest is in flux, thanks to agricultural expansion and climate change. In other words, humans have "become important agents of disturbance in the Amazon Basin," as an international consortium of scientists wrote in a review of the state of the science on the world's largest rainforest published in Nature on January 19. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) The dry season is growing longer in areas where humans have been clearing the trees—as has water discharge from Amazon River tributaries in those regions. Multiyear and more frequent severe droughts, like those in 2005 and 2010, are killing trees that humans don't cut down as well as increasing the risks of more common fires (both man-made and otherwise).
The trees are also growing fast—faster than expected for a "mature" rainforest—according to a network of measurements.
The exact cause or causes of this accelerated growth—which means the Amazon's 5 million square kilometers of trees are now sucking in and sequestering some 400 million metric tons of carbon per year, or enough to offset the annual greenhouse gas emissions of Japan—"remains unknown," the researchers wrote in the review. MORE
Antibiotics Breed Drug-Resistant Bacteria in Pigs
After being exposed to antibiotics for only 2 weeks, a drastic rise in drug-resistant E. coli has been detected in guts of pigs.
After giving pigs a low-dose of antibiotics for just two weeks, researchers detected a drastic rise in the number of E. coli bacteria in the guts of the animals. And those bacteria showed a large jump in resistance to antibiotics.
The particular strain of E. coli detected in the study was not pathogenic to pigs or humans. But the results add to concerns that regular use of antibiotics in farm animals could spread dangerous and drug-resistant varieties of bacteria throughout the environment and into our food and water.
The new findings also emphasize the need to find ways to keep animals healthy without antibiotics. MORE
Nicotine-based pesticides in widespread use by farmers are implicated in the mass deaths of bees, according to a new study by US scientists.
The authoritative, peer-reviewed research undermines the pesticide industry's long-repeated arguments that bees are not being harmed, and piles pressure on UK and US authorities to follow other countries by introducing bans on the chemicals.
Pesticide companies have been trying to protect their multi-billion pound businesses by lobbying internationally against bans on neonicotinoids, a group of toxic chemicals designed to paralyse insects by attacking their nervous systems.
Agricultural crops in Scotland, England and around the world are dosed with the chemicals to prevent insects from damaging them. But evidence has been mounting that they could be to blame for the "colony collapse disorder" that has been decimating bee populations. MORE
Attention, wine lovers! If you thought drinking all that red wine was good for you, think again.
It turns out that the University of Connecticut researcher who announced that red wine has anti-aging qualities and is good for your heart was lying.
No Proof That Red Wine Improves Heart Health
Dipak K. Das worked as the director at the University’s Cardiovascular Research Center, and until 2008 led research on resveratrol, a substance found in the pulp and skins of grapes, as well as in grape byproducts like red wine. According to Das’s research, resveratrol can slow or even reverse signs of aging and improve heart health.
There was big money behind looking into the benefits of grapes, too; Das worked closely in conjunction with a drug maker that boasted that resveratrol was “the next asprin,” and in 2007 pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline bought a company expressly to research a drug that mimicked resveratrol. MORE
The world's farmers produced more grain in 2011 than ever before. Estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show the global grain harvest coming in at 2,295 million tons, up 53 million tons from the previous record in 2009. Consumption grew by 90 million tons over the same period to 2,280 million tons. Yet with global grain production actually falling short of consumption in 7 of the past 12 years, stocks remain worryingly low, leaving the world vulnerable to food price shocks.
Nearly half the calories consumed around the world come directly from grain, with grain-fed animal products making up part of the remainder. Three grains dominate the world harvest: wheat and rice, which are primarily eaten directly as food, and corn, which is largely used as a feedgrain for livestock. Wheat was the largest of the world's grain harvests until the mid-1990s. Then corn production surged ahead in response to growing demand for grain-fed animal products and, more recently, for fuel ethanol. Despite a drop in the important U.S. harvest due mostly to high summer temperatures, global corn production hit 868 million tons in 2011, an all-time high. The harvests of wheat (689 million tons) and rice (461 million tons) were also records.MORE
A federal judge has upheld the government's decision to let the nation's alfalfa growers plant the genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant strain manufactured by Monsanto Co., saying the alleged risk of contaminating other crops does not require regulators to impose buffer zones.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the use of Roundup Ready alfalfa - so named because it is designed to withstand Monsanto's Roundup herbicide - in January 2011, ending a nationwide ban that another judge had imposed in March 2007.
The action was challenged by a group of alfalfa farmers who said they feared that the Monsanto product, spread by winds and bees, would pollinate their crops and take over their fields. Thursday, however, U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti of San Francisco said the USDA had acted within its authority. MORE
WASHINGTON—Federal drug regulators announced on Wednesday that farmers and ranchers must restrict their use of a critical class of antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys because such practices may have contributed to the growing threat in people of bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment.
The medicines are known as cephalosporins and include brands like Cefzil and Keflex. They are among the most common antibiotics prescribed to treat pneumonia, strep throat, and skin and urinary tract infections. Surgeons also often use them before surgery, and they are particularly popular among pediatricians.
The drugs' use in agriculture has, according to many microbiologists, led to the development of bacteria that are resistant to their effects, a development that many doctors say has cost thousands of lives. MORE
A recent Kanu Hawaii e-newsletter included this fact: food waste is the single largest category of waste in US landfills. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2010, 97% of food waste was thrown into incinerators or landfills.That's almost 34 million tons of food. Once again, the Natural Resources Defense Council states that this is about 40% of edible food in the US.
I was surprised to learn that as excess, leftover, and scraps of food decompose in landfills, the food releases methane gas, which contributes to climate change. According to the EPA, landfill methane gas becomes a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it rises into the atmosphere. Landfills account for 25% of all methane releases resulting from human activity.
If this isn't enough to inspire you to rethink your personal food practices, then check out some other statistics in this Kanu Hawaii blog post—including that the average US household of four persons throws away $175 worth of food each month.
Consider buying, preparing and ordering out smaller portions of food. But for those food scraps that do happen, Kanu Hawaii is asking people to participate in the “No Waste Challenge” by taking the pledge “I will compost my family's food waste." The organization published a blog post detailing how to start a compost bin. MORE
MILWAUKEE—A Wisconsin factory worker worried about layoffs became a dairy farmer. An employee at a Minnesota nonprofit found an escape from her cubicle by buying a vegetable farm. A nuclear engineer tired of office bureaucracy decided to get into cattle ranching in Texas.
While fresh demographic information on U.S. farmers won't be available until after a new agricultural census is done next year, there are signs more people in their 20s and 30s are going into farming: Enrollment in university agriculture programs has increased, as has interest in farmer-training programs.
Young people are turning up at farmers markets and are blogging, tweeting and promoting their agricultural endeavors through other social media. MORE
Area of dry land will increase by 11 per cent, says ICRISAT expert
Climate change poses the most serious threat to agriculture world over and to the food security, with countries like India facing the most unfavourable crop prospects, according to Chief Operating Officer of NutriPlus Knowledge Programme of ICRISAT Saikatdatta Mazumdar.
Area of dry land would increase by 11 per cent in the coming years due to climate change; 1.8 billion people would live in countries with absolute water scarcity and the hardest hit would be the rain-fed agriculture which covers 96 per cent of all cultivated land in Sub-Sahara Africa, 87 per cent in South America and 61 per cent in Asia, and the climate variability would aggravate loss of land productivity, Dr. Mazumdar said in his keynote address at a national seminar on sustainable food security and safety organised by GITAM University's Mircobiology and Food and Science Technology Department recently.
On the activities of ICRISAT, Dr. Mazumdar said that it had developed 610 crop varieties and hybrids which were released in 77 countries during the last four decades. ICRISAT was providing the knowledge, initial germ plasm and crop management practices to farmers. The crops improved by ICRISAT were important in ensuring food and nutritional security of more than 565 million poor people in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. MORE
Nine months after Japan's nuclear accident, life in Tokyo seems to have snapped back to normal, with a vengeance. The talk shows are back to their usual mindless trivia about pop stars and baseball contracts. The date of the tsunami and nuclear accident, March 11—known here as just 3/11—has faded into the background.
But while the horror has receded, for many of us, particularly women with families, things will never be the same.
There's no getting past the fact that the nuclear accident dumped radioactive particles into the atmosphere, soil and sea.
While Fukushima Prefecture in the northeast was hardest hit, radiation "hot spots" keep turning up in neighborhoods far from the accident. The latest was at a school, minutes from where I live in Tokyo.
What's more, figuring out what's "safe" to consume has become all but impossible. MORE
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Thursday its decision to deregulate two Monsanto genetically engineered (GE) seed varieties: a corn variety engineered to resist drought conditions and an herbicide-resistant soybean engineered to produce more fatty acids than regular soybeans.
Regulators legalized the seeds after reviewing risk assessments, public comments and data provided by Monsanto.
Monsanto is planning "on-farm trials" of drought-tolerant corn, known as MON 87460, during the upcoming planting season "to give farmers experience with the product" and generate commercial data, according to a statement from the company.
The corn contains a protein gene from a bacterium that reportedly limits yield loss when corn plants are stressed by drought conditions.
Earlier this year, Truthout exposed a controversial program in five African countries that involves putting Monsanto drought-tolerant corn in the hands of farmers facing drought conditions. The program is part of an effort funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is working to establish a "Second Green Revolution" in Africa.
Critics say such efforts could replace traditional and sustainable farming methods with American-style industrial agriculture and prevent African governments from effectively regulating GE crops. MORE
Canadians faced the biggest annual rise in egg prices in 30 years in November, just one of a range of grocery staples that have soared over the past year, putting upward pressure on Canada's annual inflation rate.
The price of eggs jumped 12.3% in November over the same month the year before, bread prices leapt 11.9%, potatoes 20.3%, pasta 12.7% and coffee 12.1%, Statistics Canada reported on Tuesday. Food prices overall jumped 4.8% in year-over-year in November. The agency noted prices for food bought at restaurants were also up.
“While food commodity price increases are easing, they are still chugging along at quite a rapid clip,” Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note. “A softer Canadian dollar could add to costs.
Consumer prices climbed in all eight major categories in November, but overall inflation was unchanged during the month with the inflation rate remaining at 2.9% year-over-year, the same level as in October. Mr. Porter said food inflation added 0.5% to that headline rate. MORE
Poisonous metal released as a vapour by burning fuel, then falls back to Earth and gets absorbed by the aquatic ecosystem
Earth is being showered with mercury that can land anywhere and enter the food chain, a study has shown. The poisonous metal is released as a vapour by burning fuel then falls back to Earth and is easily absorbed by the aquatic ecosystem. Thousands of tonnes of mercury vapour are pumped into the air each year. Scientists discovered that in time mercury is oxidised it can then be deposited back on Earth, either in rain or snow. Bacteria transform the oxidised mercury into methyl mercury, which easily enters the food chain. US scientist Dr Seth Lyman, who led the research while at the University of Washington Bothell, said: "Much of the emitted mercury is deposited far from its original sources.
"Mercury emitted on the other side of the globe could be deposited right at our back door, depending on where and how it is transported, chemically transformed and deposited."
Mercury from coal burning in Asia, for example, could circle the globe several times before being oxidised and carried back to the Earth's surface.
Some areas, including the south-west US, had specific climate conditions that allowed them to receive more oxidised mercury from the upper atmosphere than others. MORE
Scientists who uncovered the first signs that infectious salmon anemia is present on the West Coast have found themselves shunned and intimidated by federal government officials, the Cohen Commission has heard.
Fred Kibenge, chair of the department of pathology and microbiology at the University of Prince Edward Island, said the credibility of his laboratory came under attack shortly after he reported getting two positive tests for the ISA virus in 48 sockeye salmon samples. Those samples were sent to him in October by a Simon Fraser University researcher, Rick Routledge, who was trying to figure out why so many salmon were dying on B.C.'s Central Coast.
Professor Routledge held a highly publicized press conference to announce the virus, which has triggered devastating disease outbreaks in Atlantic salmon farms in Norway and Chile, had been found for the first time in B.C. waters.
Dr. Kibenge said shortly after SFU went public he was called by government officials who had questions about how his lab operated. MORE
The Friends of Clayoquot Sound hosted a rally in Tofino Tuesday to draw attention to what they say is a lack of response by Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to reported detections of Infection Salmon Anemia (ISA).
The three-hour rally was set up outside the DFO office on First Street.
"We're here to bring DFO's attention to the fact that we think they should be dealing with the Infectious Salmon Anemia virus that's been found in B.C. waters," said Friends' Bonny Glambeck at the rally.
"This is a very serious matter. This virus could wipe out our aquaculture fish farming industry and it also could be the last nail in the coffin of our wild salmon and herring stocks on the coast. We think this has to be dealt with in an immediate manner." MORE
Rapid Rise in Wildfires in Large Parts of Canada? Ecologists Find Threshold Values for Natural Wildfires
Large forest regions in Canada are apparently about to experience rapid change. Based on models, scientists can now show that there are threshold values for wildfires just like there are for epidemics. Large areas of Canada are apparently approaching this threshold value and may in future exceed it due to climate change.
As a result both the area burnt down annually and the average size of the fires would increase, write the researchers of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Michigan in the December issue of the journal The American Naturalist. The strategies for combating wildfires in large parts of Canada should therefore be reconsidered.
According to media reports, after weeks of drought around 1,000 hectares of forest and scrubland were burnt down in the West Canadian province British Columbia in the summer of 2009 alone. 11,000 people had to be evacuated. Are such events on the rise as a result of climate change? This question is being hotly debated by ecologists all over the world. In July a group of US researchers led by Anthony Westerling of the University of California forecasted similar changes in the journal PNAS. They believe that climate change might result in a dramatic increase in the threat of wildfires in Yellowstone National Park and that the forests might disappear here in the 21st century. MORE
teensturninggreen.org: Download the Dirty Thirty
The Dirty Thirty is a list of 30 chemical ingredients that may be linked to cancer. Many have been banned by the European Union on suspicion of their toxicity. What you may not know is that many of the biggest manufacturers of these products reformulate without these chemicals for the European market, but continue to manufacture with these potentially dangerous chemicals for the US market. Our hope is that you will use this list to help navigate your new purchases, and use your buying power to protect your right to health and a healthy world.
This list was compiled by Teens for Safe Cosmetics based on a survey of over 500 teens who named the products and brands they were using daily. In collaboration with a chemist, the ubiquitous chemicals were investigated for their potential harm to our health.
Download Dirty Thirty in English
The current global food system is highly fuel- and transport-dependent.
Fuels will almost certainly become less affordable in the near and medium term, making the current, highly fuel-dependent agricultural production system less secure and food less affordable.
It is therefore necessary to promote food self-sufficiency and reduce the need for fuel inputs to the food system at all levels.
The connection between food and oil is systemic, and the prices of both food and fuel have risen and fallen more or less in tandem in recent years. Modern agriculture uses oil products to fuel farm machinery, to transport other inputs to the farm, and to transport farm output to the ultimate consumer. Oil is often also used as input in agricultural chemicals. Oil price increases therefore put pressure on all these aspects of commercial food systems. MORE
OTTAWA—Ottawa is appealing a Federal Court ruling that said the government.s plan to reform the Canadian Wheat Board has broken the law.
The government also promised Friday that it will push ahead with the changes.
"Western farmers should continue to plan on having the same freedom as other farmers in Canada so that they too can market their grains in the best interests of their individual farms," Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a written statement.
Ritz has introduced a bill in Parliament to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act. It would end the board.s monopoly on western wheat and barley sales by next August.
On Wednesday, Justice Douglas Campbell ruled that the bill violates the act, which requires any changes to be subject to a plebiscite among producers. But Campbell did not overturn the amendment. He made it clear he was simply issuing a statement on the government.s actions and it would be up to the government to decide how to proceed. MORE
Apples: all motherhood and apple pie... Unless those apples aren.t organic, for they.ll be riddled with pesticides. There.s a reason it.s the forbidden fruit: those crunchy, sweet apples top the "Dirty Dozen" list of pesticide-contaminated fruits and veggies. 98% of non-organic apples tested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) were found to be contaminated.
Pesticide chemicals are nasty, stable, and hard to break down. They.re bad for our bodies and the environment. There are clear linkages between cancer and pesticide exposure. And because of their persistence in our environment, it turns out that 24% of organic apples contain pesticide residue, according to a new Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) study.
It.s easy to grab the low-hanging fruit here: pesticide-ridden organic apples. Is eating organic futile? Should I question my allegiance to the organic (and local!) fruit?
Nope. I.ll still choose organic. Why? Because pesticides are much less prevalent on organic than on conventional produce. Because we.re decreasing our exposure significantly. And because it.s the healthier choice for my family, farming communities, and the environment. We.re also reducing the demand for pesticide use. MORE
Health panel wants life saving, sodium lowering policies. Tories say no.
Why would the federal government deliberately ignore the deadly results of a dangerous substance killing thousands each year and negatively affecting the health of one-quarter of Canadians?
Why would Ottawa do absolutely nothing to stop needless deaths and enormous medical costs when prevention is practically free and its own expert panel recommended quick action?
The answer is because that deadly product is salt -- and the Conservative government doesn.t want to upset the culprits who deal it -- food manufacturers and restaurants.
Canadians consume way too much salt -- on average 3,400 milligrams -- when Health Canada says the recommended, safe amount is less than half that -- just 1,500 milligrams. High blood pressure results, causing heart disease and strokes.
Reducing sodium intake to 1,800 milligrams a day would prevent an estimated 23,500 cardiovascular disease events per year -- a 13 per cent reduction -- and save $3 billion a year in health costs, according to the government.s own report. MORE
Climate change will be good for Britain.s growers says Met Office
Climate change will be good for British farming, according to a new Met Office report, that found most agricultural will become more productive as temperatures rise.
The report, which brings together for the first time climate change projections for 24 different countries, found that farmers in the UK, Germany and Canada could all benefit from global warming.
In these temperate climates, the increase in temperature will not kill plants but can make it easier to grow crops like wheat.
The UK could benefit the most with an estimated 96 per cent of agricultural land becoming more suitable for crops by 2100.
However Australia, Spain and South Africa will all see their crop production fall as the plants die in the hotter climate. More than 90 per cent of the land in these countries will become less suitable for agriculture.
The report also estimated the likelihood of water shortages and floods in different countries across the world. MORE
Britta Riley wanted to grow her own food (in her tiny apartment). So she and her friends developed a system for growing plants in discarded plastic bottles -- researching, testing and tweaking the system using social media, trying many variations at once and quickly arriving at the optimal system. Call it distributed DIY. And the results? Delicious.
Exposure to atrazine, a commonly used weed killer, increases the risk of reproductive problems in a wide range of animals, says a new review study that analyzed research from around the world.
In earlier studies, various scientists have concluded that the herbicide has gender-bending properties. For instance, some studies showed that male frogs could be turned into females by exposing them to small amounts of atrazine at critical points in their development. But the findings were disputed—especially by the chemical industry.
In response, Tyrone Hayes, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California at Berkeley, urged others studying atrazine to pool their work into a single comprehensive study. MORE
World grain production fell last year, exacerbating a global food situation already plagued by rising prices, according to new research published by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online publication. Despite record rice and maize yields around the world, global wheat production dropped substantially enough to bring total grain output to just below 2008 levels.
Maize, wheat, and rice provide nearly two-thirds of the global human diet and serve as critical inputs for both animal feed and industrial products. The significance of these crops guarantees that a decline in production will produce ripple effects throughout the global economy, particularly as increased food prices continue to take a toll on the world.s neediest populations. Overall, rice and wheat production have tripled since the 1960s, and maize production has quadrupled, despite global acreage of these crops increasing by only 35 percent.
Production increased worldwide, but there was greater reliance on irrigation, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides—all of which take resources, can be costly, and may cause substantial environmental degradation. As farmers have begun to witness these impacts, many have been forced to abandon their fields because of infertile soil.
Nevertheless, preliminary data for 2011 indicate that grain production is recovering from the 2010 slump. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently forecast that cereal output in 2011–12 will be 3 percent higher than in 2010–11. MORE
Five Innovations that are Boosting Soil Fertility
Crops need air, sun, water, and soil to thrive. When it comes to soil, however, quality usually trumps quantity. Rich and fertile land boasts a healthy mixture of phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen, along with water, air, and soil micro-organisms that break down organic matter.
But what happens when these elemental building blocks are disrupted? The Green Revolution of the mid-20th century implemented a variety of practices, including the widespread use of pesticides and fertilizers. Yet, improperly applying the Green Revolution.s principles can sometimes do more harm than good. Overfertilizing and destructive land use practices, including deforestation, can deplete vital nutrients in soil, and no amount of inorganic fertilizer can replace fundamental topsoil. In addition, higher annual temperatures, more extreme weather events and persistent droughts, and increasing population are also exhausting the land. These conditions are creating a cycle of soil degeneration which is stunting agricultural yields and presenting farmers with a new crop of concerns.
Today, Nourishing the Planet provides five methods that farmers and scientists are using to combat rising soil infertility. MORE
Many Canadians believe they don.t have enough time to exercise or eat healthy meals, the Heart and Stroke Foundation says.
The charity commissioned an online survey released Tuesday that suggests most Canadians know heart disease and stroke can be fought by making healthy choices. Yet almost half of the survey respondents said they don.t have enough time to be active or eat healthier meals.
Arul Myles Mylvaganam of Richmond Hill, Ont., was one of the Canadians who felt too busy to cook. The real estate agent used to eat most of his meals in his vehicle, starting with five cups of coffee a day with cream and sugar. MORE
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)—As she surveys her small, bare plot in Zimbabwe.s capital, farmer Janet Vambe knows something serious is happening, even if she has never heard of climate change.
"Long ago, I could set my calendar with the date the rains started," the 72-year-old said. Nowadays, "we have to gamble with the rains. If you plant early you might lose and if you plant late you might win. We are at a loss of what to do."
Paramu Mafongoya, a University of Zimbabwe agronomist, says Vambe.s worries and those of millions of other poor farmers—most of them women—across Africa are a clear sign of the impact of climate change on a continent already struggling to feed itself. Changes have been noted in the timing and the distribution of rainfall on the continent. Zimbabweans say the rainy season has become shorter and more unpredictable, Mafongoya said.
Climate change "is a serious threat to human life," Mafongoya said. "It affects agriculture and food security everywhere." MORE
A court has ordered Health Canada to reconsider its decision not to review the effects of a popular herbicide, a ruling that some say will strengthen the public.s hand in forcing the government to answer environmental concerns.
"We put a crack in the door," said Josette Wier, who took the government to court after a forestry company began spraying Roundup from airplanes near her Smithers, B.C., home. "That door was locked—it was impossible."
Wier asked for a special review on the use of Roundup, especially when it is combined with another chemical called POEA that allows it to spread more evenly. Legislation allows Health Canada to call such a review if the request is accompanied by new evidence gathered since the chemical.s original approval.
Wier provided 15 recent peer-reviewed studies that raised questions about the Roundup-POEA combination.s effect on pregnant women, men, animal fetuses and frogs. But in August 2009, Health Canada refused to investigate. MORE
Rules hog, beef producers victims of U.S. country-of-origin-labelling
Manitoba livestock producers are relieved after the World Trade Organization ruled Friday country-of-origin-labelling rules discriminate against Canadian beef and hog exports to the United States.
The rules, known as COOL, have had a devastating impact on Manitoba beef and hog exports to the U.S. since they were enacted in 2008.
Canada, along with Mexico, launched a challenge to the rules with the WTO, arguing they create unnecessary obstacles to international trade and treat imported meat products less favourably than U.S. products. On Friday, a WTO panel agreed. MORE
10 simple steps we all can take to help make this season less wasteful and more plentiful
HELENA, Mont.—On a forested hill in the mountains north of Montana.s capital, beneath a canopy of pine and spruce, Marc and Gloria Flora have planted more than 300 smaller trees, from apple and pear to black walnut and chestnut.
Beneath the trees are layers of crops: shrubs like buffalo berries and raspberries, edible flowers like day lilies, vines like grapes and hops, and medicinal plants, including yarrow and arnica.
Turkeys and chickens wander the two-acre plot, gobbling hackberries and bird cherries that have fallen from trees planted in their pen, and leaving manure to nourish the plants.
For the Floras, the garden is more than a source of food for personal use and sale. Ms. Flora, an environmental consultant and former supervisor for the United States Forest Service, is hoping it serves as a demonstration project to spur the growth of agroforestry—the science of incorporating trees into traditional agriculture.
The extensive tree canopy and the use of native plants, she says, make the garden more resilient in the face of a changing climate, needing less water, no chemical fertilizers and few, if any, pesticides. “It.s far more sustainable” than conventional agriculture, she said. MORE
Harper already subsidising Churchill for loss of rail and port income from grain exports.
"Post-CWB .adjustment. funding pledged for Churchill... The price tag to shut down the Canadian Wheat Board.s wheat and barley marketing monopoly is to include almost $30 million in federal incentives and supports for the northern grain port of Churchill, Manitoba," reports the Manitoba Co-operator.
The story indicates as clearly as anything could that the Harper Government is perfectly aware of the drastic negative consequences of its decision to end the Canadian Wheat Board.s monopoly. Yet they are going ahead as quickly and dictatorially as possible, to render moot any court finding that they are acting illegally as well as stupidly.
Churchill has, for its entire history, been a political creation. While it is true that its route to Europe is 1,000 kilometres shorter than any of the Great Lakes ports, its short shipping season has always worked against it. All the grain companies have built their own facilities on the Great Lakes and are quite naturally unwilling to use Churchill to the detriment of their own business. The CWB has consequently been the only grain shipper through Churchill for many years, and has found it necessary to give farmers a bonus for such a route.
"Now that the CWB can.t stick up for the farmers, the private grain companies will act as a cartel to set the prices as they wish." MORE
As pressure on the world.s water resources reaches unsustainable levels in an increasing number of regions, a "business-as-usual" approach to economic development and natural resource management will no longer be possible, FAO said.
Agriculture will be key to the implementation of sustainable water management, the Organization told attendees at an international meeting on water, energy and food security being held in Bonn. Speaking on the sidelines at the Bonn 2011 Nexus Conference,
FAO Assistant Director-General for Natural Resources, Alexander Mueller, said: "Tackling the challenges of food security, economic development and energy security in a context of ongoing population growth will require a renewed and re-imagined focus on agricultural development. Agriculture can and should become the backbone of tomorrow.s green economy." MORE
There is a growing and well publicized movement happening in Vermont that could provide some clues to the rest of us on how to proceed in a systemic process of revitalizing rural economies. There are many small and medium sized agricultural businesses in Hardwick that popped up within a short time frame and have been growing and making their positive influence felt.
Facing a Main Street dotted with vacant stores, residents of this hardscrabble community of 3,000 are reaching into its past to secure its future, betting on farming to make Hardwick the town that was saved by food.
With the fervor of Internet pioneers, young artisans and agricultural entrepreneurs are expanding aggressively, reaching out to investors and working together to create a collective strength never before seen in this seedbed of Yankee individualism. MORE
Canada.s poorest people facing a frightful food crisis
The Welfare Diet of 1995, introduced by then Minister of Social Services Dave Tsubouchi, is a useful tool to measure the changes of the cost of food since 1995. It is not a good diet in its own right. The Toronto Star noted, “Back in 1995, the opposition Liberals scorned the Mike Harris government.s ‘welfare diet,. which purported to show that a single person on social assistance could eat for $90 a month. That meagre Tory shopping list included pasta but no sauce, and bread but no butter.”
The cost of the welfare diet has gone up by 63% since 1995, at the same time as CPI inflation has risen 35%, but the Ontario Works (welfare) single rate has gone up by just 13.7%
Food groups in the welfare diet are rising faster than inflation as measured by the CPI. Meat and dairy products are tracking higher than the welfare diet, while the diet as a whole is increasing faster than inflation. Inflation, in turn, is tracking far higher than increases to welfare payments to single persons. MORE
Soon, ONE will be launching a massive campaign around agriculture, a topic that has become so important given the destructive famine in the Horn of Africa. To help get your motor running on all things ag (as we affectionately call it here at ONE) Kelly Hauser from our global policy team and I have teamed together to create our first graphic novel, Agriculture 101.
Each week, we.ll publish a new chapter of Agriculture 101, each covering a different facet of the agriculture dilemma in Africa. Our first chapter, “The Cycle,” tells the unfortunate story of many African farmers after they harvest their crops. Read on to find out, and stay tuned for our next chapter, “The Hunger.”
Food and Water Watch will be delivering these petitions signatures to the top ten largest grocery store chains in the U.S. to let them know consumers won.t buy Monsanto.s GE sweet corn.
"We must learn to invest as if food, farms and fertility mattered. We must connect investors to the places where they live, creating vital relationships and new sources of capital for small food enterprises." —Principle #4, Slow Money Principles
Instead, what do we have? Hot dogs, sausages and French fries, mostly, a street menu that has hardly varied for decades. For a place that rightly boasts of its vibrant multiculturalism, it is downright embarrassing. Toronto is a street-food flop.
An attempt to spice up the city.s offerings ended in fiasco earlier this year. The city cancelled its A La Cart program, which encouraged vendors to sell varied foods from mobile carts but tied them up in so much red tape that few were able to make a go of it. Since then, the city has been looking for new ways to improve street food.
An experiment in Calgary could show the way. The city is letting 10 food trucks roam the streets offering a smorgasbord of treats. Los Compadres MX presents itself as "Calgary.s first gourmet taco truck," the Noodle Bus offers Vietnamese food, BlamWich serves thick super-sandwiches and Fiasco Gelato makes fresh Italian ice cream. MORE
Virus is another sign of failure to protect wild salmon.
In 2007 and 2008, a virus wiped out millions of salmon on fish farms in Chile, slamming the country.s aquaculture industry with $2 billion in losses, farm and processing-plant closures, and layoffs of 2,000 workers. Now that same virus, infectious salmon anemia, has been found in wild salmon from BC.s Rivers Inlet.
The virus normally affects Atlantic salmon, which is what most salmon farms on BC.s coast raise, but it can spread and mutate quickly. Scientists confirm that the virus found in the sockeye salmon from River.s Inlet was the European strain, which means it almost certainly came from a fish farm.
Instead of cutting budgets, the government should provide money and resources to monitor and enforce regulations to protect fish and habitat. MORE
On October 31, a federal judge upheld measures required to protect endangered salmon and steelhead from three highly toxic pesticides. The protections were included in a biological opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in 2008, but unsurprisingly the manufacturers of those pesticides had challenged NMFS.s findings, in an attempt to overturn these protections. Fortunately, the pesticide industry lost.
Last week, I wrote here about the growing fear that infectious salmon anemia had been found in two wild sockeye smolts collected on the central British Columbia coast. How the anemia might have got there is under discussion, but in the case decided on Monday, it is clear that the pesticide industry is to blame. MORE
Eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG.s Shopper.s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The Shopper.s Guide to Pesticide in Produce will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce.
Commodity crop corn used for animal feed and biofuels is almost all produced with genetically modified (GMO) seeds, as is some sweet corn sold for human consumption. Since GMO sweet corn is not labeled as such in US stores, EWG advises those who have concerns about GMOs to buy organic sweet corn. MORE
Skin Deep-an online database with safety profiles for more than 65,000 cosmetics and personal care products. HERE
The David Suzuki Foundation.s Dirty Dozen backgrounder HERE
A serious agricultural pest, the western corn rootworm, has developed resistance to one of the toxins produced by the genetically engineered (GE) corn plants known as Bt corn, according to a new study by entomologists at Iowa State University. If this new development leads farmers to resort to increasing chemical insecticide use to kill the rootworm—an outcome that seems increasingly likely—it will bear out a longstanding concern about widespread adoption of GE crops. MORE
Consumers speak out against Genetically Engineered sweet corn.
Environmental Pollutants: Soybeans can accumulate drugs and personal care products commonly found in wastewater and solid waste
Each year, U.S. farmers fertilize their fields with millions of tons of treated sewage and irrigate with billions of gallons of recycled water. Through this treated waste, an array of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) make their way unregulated from consumers. homes into farm fields. Now researchers find that at least one crop, soybeans, can readily absorb these chemicals, which raises concerns about the possible effects on people and animals that consume the PPCP-containing plants (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es1011115). MORE
As space in Britain.s landfills runs out, the race is on to find environmentally friendly alternatives. Is plasma technology the answer?
Plasma technology is about superheating waste that might otherwise go to landfill in an oxygen-deprived environment, producing a clean synthesis gas that can be used to power engines and create electricity. Unlike incineration, the process leaves behind little ash, instead producing a lava that cools to form a black glass-like substance known as Plasmarok. Earlier this year, APP.s then CEO, Simon Merriweather, previously the managing director of EDF.s power stations, gave me a tour. The technology can handle nearly all waste, he explained, is more energy-efficient than incineration, produces no dioxins and very little ash; Plasmarok is considered a building material rather than waste.
Plasma technology is in use around the world to clean up dangerous emissions from industrial processes. But nowhere else are gasifiers and plasma being used in tandem, as they are in Swindon. MORE
In honor of World Food Day 2011, the third issue of the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch has recently been published by a consortium of 16 civil society organizations. The Watch provides experts. articles as well as 15 national and regional reports on the right to food and nutrition accountability spanning four continents. The 2011 edition also identifies accountability as the most immediate challenge in the fight against hunger.
Despite the growth of a worldwide Right to Food movement and the existence of international frameworks and mechanisms to protect human rights, an unacceptable number of violations remain unpunished, according to the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2011, an annual publication released today that monitors food security and nutrition policies from a human rights perspective.
The publication identifies a lack of accountability as the “missing link” between people.s struggle for their rights and the increased recognition of the right to food in political agendas that has occurred over the past 25 years. MORE
K.Naan, Liya Kebede, George Clooney, Idris Elba, Bono, Annie Lennox, Colin Farrell, and Bill Nighy unite behind ONE.s new Hungry No More campaign to help focus the world.s attention again on the famine and food crisis in the Horn of Africa. Find out more at http://www.one.org
Ecological Agriculture—the Opportunity to Thrive
As extreme weather events increase in both frequency and severity it is necessary to adopt ecological agriculture practices to ensure food security. Ecological agriculture can not only protect our environment but also ensure nutritious, healthy food for the world, both today and tomorrow.
.Ecological farming defends nature and people by protecting soil, water and climate. It also promotes biodiversity, ensures healthy farming and healthy food and does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or genetic engineering.
Ecological farming relies on agro-ecological soil fertility. Growing legumes and/or adding compost, animal dung or green manure are some smart ways to increase the organic matter and fertility of the soil, without using chemical fertilisers. Natural nutrient cycling and nitrogen fixation not only reduce farmers. expenses on artificial inputs, but they also make for a healthier, more fertile soil that is rich in organic matter, better able to hold water and less prone to erosion.
Organic farming is a subset of ecological agriculture that adheres to stricter principles. Organic farming is based upon sustaining and enhancing the health of living ecological systems. It follows natural cycles and emphasises the biodiversity and the whole environment. It bans the use of chemical pesticides, fertilisers, drugs and other additives, and rejects genetic engineering. It encourages local, community-supported farmers and principles of fairness for farm workers.
Here is a list of stories celebrating the huge diversity of ecologically sound and productive farming practices that are already being applied by farmers and their local communities in North America.
Creating Jobs through Public Investment in Local and Regional Food Systems.
As farmers market shoppers have long known, buying food directly from the people who grew it is a great way to add freshness and flavor to your table and more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
But locally grown food is not only good for your taste buds—it creates jobs, keeps money in local economies, promotes community development, and can reduce the environmental and public health costs of the food we eat. MORE
Energy, Sustainability and Agriculture
Ontario.s total amount of energy use in agriculture is high due to the fact that its agriculture production is more intensive. Resource-intensive cropping practices include use of more chemicals, fertilizer, and tillage practices and there are more intensive livestock operations (ILOs), such as dairies, and poultry and hog barns.
Sharing the Promise of Sustainable, Ecological Agriculture
The Ecological Farmers of Ontario has been committed to ecological and organic farming since 1979. Run by farmers for farmers, it has a record of farmers sharing know-how and experience with their peers. Agriculture is local. It takes several seasons to climb organic farming.s steep learning curve. This type of person-to-person sharing is proving to be invaluable.
Food Down the Road officially launches
The National Farmers Union Local 316 has launched Food Down the Road, a newspaper about food targeted to the Kingston and countryside. The initial isue contains a wealth of information about food issues and opportunities. Take a look HERE
Opportunities in Prince Edward County
This county has some of the best farm land in Ontario and some of the nation`s best farmers. The County used to be known as the `Garden of Canada.` At one time it produced one-third of all canned produce for Canada.
County farmers are still leading by example. For example, Cherryvale Organic Farm intends to be the ‘farm of the future.: local, organic, and self-energizing. The aim is to farm with the smallest possible ecological footprint in a world that must cope with climate change, peak oil, and scarce natural resources. At Cherryvale, they embrace the post-carbon world with optimism and excitement. Check it out!
The Harvestin` the County website says, ``Farming is a way of life here, and we take our food seriously.`` The site is an excellent resource to find what produce is in season and where you can buy it. Maple syrup producers can be found HERE. Wineries are found HERE
It is anticipated that in the future, because the cost of car ownership will rise dramatically, fewer people will drive, and those who do own cars will travel less. Many people will walk more, bike more or rent a vehicle for special occasions. In the future, as the cost of transporting food increases, local food sources will become more important. Although the County has a plethora of farm gate markets, development of viable, centrally located farmers‘ markets will become important.
Opportunities for Action in Prince Edward County
Transition Prince Edward County focuses on positive action to address Peak Oil and Climate Change and in hands-on, practical ways to help to make Prince Edward County a sustainable community for the future. It.s all about sharing practical solutions on a local scale. It is a great place to develop skills together with your neighbours. Check it out!
Having food resiliency is as much about learning how to store and use food properly as it is about growing it. The key is learning interdependence not independence. Check out, Food in Uncertain Times: How to Grow and Store the 5 Crops You Need to Survive
Your optimum diet
In the future, you will probably be eating locally sourced, fresher, tastier, and more nutritious food. But what is your optimum diet? Many claim a vegetarian diet is the healthiest and, ultimately, the most sustainable. Not everyone agrees. If you would like to give vegetarianism a shot, you can start by taking a painless introduction, The Vegetarian Challenge.
A Food Resource Guide for Prince Edward County (PDF) is available HERE Information about the Picton Food Bank is found HERE and the Storehouse Wellington Food Bank HERE The Salvation Army provides food relief (Tues. Wed. & Thurs. 9:00 a.m. to Noon) and can be reached at (613) 476-5404. The Gleaners Food Bank (Belleville) provides emergency food hampers (including ones for special dietary needs) to working families, people on social assistance, singles, couples, students, seniors, the disabled and children in the Quinte region.
If you care about local food, pull up a chair. Come Back to the Table” is an online meeting place to learn about food security in Hastings and Prince Edward County. “Come Back to the Table” celebrates whole, healthy foods grown close to home in environmentally gentle ways. This site is about celebrating and strengthening our connection- our relationship- to food that truly nourishes us.
How to start a soup club
Get nine free lunches-when 10 people join your workplace soup club! Think of the benefits of a healthy and home-cooked lunch, away from your desk. Not to mention the coin you.ll save. And no wasteful take out containers.
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