Agriculture

Climate modelers see modern echo in '30s Dust Bowl
May 1, 2008 09:24 AM - The Earth Institute at Columbia University

NEW YORK April 30, 2008 — Climate scientists using computer models to simulate the 1930s Dust Bowl on the U.S Great Plains have found that dust raised by farmers probably amplified and spread a natural drop in rainfall, turning an ordinary drying cycle into an agricultural collapse. The researcher say the study raises concern that current pressures on farmland from population growth and climate change could worsen current food crises by leading to similar events in other regions.

What is the Real Cause of Agflation--Rapidly Rising Food Prices?
April 30, 2008 09:25 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

The old laws of the marketplace are no longer working. Food prices have been rising for six years because of surging demand, and increased production is not restoring the balance as it used to in the past. In fact, prices have been going up even faster over the last year. The so-called "financialisation" of commodities markets, that is, the influx of investment funds seeking safer and more lucrative assets, has intensified the trend and "at the moment impinges more than the law of supply and demand," said analyst Fernando Muraro of AgRural, a consultancy firm in Brazil.

Making a Killing from the Food Crisis
April 29, 2008 09:33 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

The world food crisis is hurting a lot of people, but global agribusiness firms, traders and speculators are raking in huge profits. Much of the news coverage of the world food crisis has focussed on riots in low-income countries, where workers and others cannot cope with skyrocketing costs of staple foods. But there is another side to the story: the big profits that are being made by huge food corporations and investors.

Key farm-state lawmakers shifting support to cellulosic fuel

The corn ethanol industry could take a nearly 12 percent hit in their subsidies in the next farm bill, as farm state lawmakers shift their support to new cellulosic ethanol. The farm bill agreement that key House and Senate negotiators reached Friday would extend and reduce the tax credit for conventional ethanol and the tariff on imported ethanol. It would also give new subsidies for cellulosic ethanol -- derived from crop debris, woody plants and grasses.

Poor children main victims of climate change: U.N.
April 29, 2008 08:01 AM - Reuters

Millions of the world's poorest children are among the most vulnerable and unwitting victims of climate change caused by the rich developed world, a United Nations report said on Tuesday, calling for urgent action. The UNICEF report "Our Climate, Our Children, Our Responsibility" measured action on targets set in the Millennium Development Goals to halve child poverty by 2015. It found failure on counts from health to survival, education and sex equality.

California wildfire forces 1,000 to evacuate
April 28, 2008 07:57 AM - Reuters

A wildfire that began along a popular hiking trail forced 1,000 people to evacuate their homes in the hills northeast of Los Angeles on Sunday, officials said. The cause of the nearly 400-acre fire, which started Saturday afternoon as Southern California logged near-record temperatures, was still under investigation, said Elisa Weaver, a spokeswoman for the city of Sierra Madre, California.

New Fish Farms Move from Ocean to Warehouse
April 25, 2008 09:59 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

Earlier this week, on a spring day in April, John Stubblefield walked past the blue tanks of striped bass, Atlantic sea bream, and cobia stored inside a Baltimore, Maryland, laboratory. "In this tank, it's spring in May. This tank it's spring in September," he said. At the University of Maryland's Center for Marine Biotechnology, Stubblefield and his fellow researchers are not only altering nature, they are creating what may be the next generation of seafood.

'Era of cheap food is over,' says EU

EU consumers should get used to paying more for food as prices for meat, grain, cereal and a range of agricultural commodities are set to increase further, according to EU officials and MEPs debating the issue in Strasbourg yesterday (22 April). The EU's current push for biofuels came under repeated scrutiny during the discussion. We won't see food prices going back down to former levels," EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel told a Strasbourg audience of MEPs convened to discuss the global food crisis.

US 'plans cut to global agricultural research funds'
April 23, 2008 09:34 AM - , SciDevNet

Despite rising food prices and restrictions on food exports the United States is planning to cut funding to international agricultural research, scientists claim. In February this year officials from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) warned that a cut in funding was likely. The actual figure is yet to be announced, but it could be as much as 75 per cent according to a spokesperson from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

The Food Crisis: Global Markets and Deregulation Strike Again
April 23, 2008 09:13 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

You wouldn't know it by watching Congressional debate on C-SPAN, but if you turn on the news, it's clear that the global food system is in crisis. Food prices globally have skyrocketed, in some cases 80%. Food protests and riots from Italy to Yemen have begun capturing worldwide attention, and policymakers are scrambling to point fingers at a litany of culprits-everything from climate change, high oil prices, a weak dollar and the biofuels boom, to meat eaters in China. All of these factors have played a part in the current crisis, but the blame game is also allowing one culprit-the principle protagonist in this story-to get away with not even a mention. It's a character you might have heard of recently for its role in that little unfortunate sub-prime mortgage mess. That's right, deregulation.

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