Agriculture

Science justifies California water limits
March 20, 2010 11:30 AM - Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

Federal limits on water that can be pumped out of a major river delta for California farmers are scientifically justified, a much-anticipated report said on Friday, a finding hailed by environmentalists in the state's epic water wars. But the National Academy of Sciences stopped short of handing a decisive victory to environmental interests over agricultural interests. The academy said further study was required and that threats to Chinook salmon, delta smelt and other endangered fish were not entirely caused by the pumping.

Horses Never Forget Human Friends
March 19, 2010 11:02 AM - Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Human friends may come and go, but a horse could be one of your most loyal, long-term buddies if you treat it right, suggests a new study. Horses also understand words better than expected, according to the research, and possess "excellent memories," allowing horses to not only recall their human friends after periods of separation, but also to remember complex, problem-solving strategies for ten years or more.

California to get more water
March 17, 2010 06:45 AM - Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

California's drought-baked cities and farms will get considerably more water this year than last from federal officials, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Tuesday, making good on forecasts issued in February after a series of strong winter storms. Irrigation districts south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which represent farmers on the west side of the state's Central Valley, will get 25 percent of their contracted water allotment from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Salazar said, up from just 5 percent in February.

EPA Makes Chemical Information More Accessible, and for Free
March 16, 2010 06:23 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The web has been a valuable source of information on the releases of toxic chemicals in our communities, and for citizens and environmental action groups to see what companies and facilities are emitting air pollutants, discharging water pollution, and generating hazardous wastes. Finding the information you were looking for was not always easy, and not always free. Now things are getting a little easier, and more information is obtainable for free. US EPA announced that it is providing web access, free of charge, to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory. This inventory contains a consolidated list of thousands of industrial chemicals maintained by the agency. EPA is also making this information available on Data.Gov, a website launched to provide public access to important government information.

Could toxins from plantation trees be causing cancer?
February 23, 2010 08:25 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

A local medical doctor, a marine ecologist, and oyster farmers are raising an alarm that a nearby monoculture plantation of Eucalyptus nitens may be poisoning local water reserves, leading to rare cancers and high oyster mortality in Tasmania. However, the toxin is not from pesticides, as originally expected, but appears to originate from the trees themselves. "The toxin is actually coming from the monoculture trees," Scammell said on Australian news show, Today.

Insecticide beats DDT in early trials
February 22, 2010 09:35 PM - Esther Tola, SciDevNet

Malaria researchers in Benin say they may have found a replacement for DDT in areas where mosquitoes are resistant to common insecticides. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) of insecticides is a major part of malaria control. But worries over toxicity and environmental persistence have led to calls for DDT to be phased out, and mosquitoes are growing resistant to widely used pyrethroid insecticides. Alternatives are expensive and short-lived.

Mongolia mining impacted by bitter winter
February 22, 2010 06:42 AM - Ulan Bator, Reuters

As Mongolia cowers under the brutal thrall of its worst winter in decades, questions are being asked as to whether the country should end its reliance on nomadic herders and dig deeper into its mineral reserves instead. Some 800 years ago, Mongolia's nomadic herdsmen were surging across the steppe under the leadership of Genghis Khan and conquering China, Tibet and much of central Asia. Today, most of their descendents are at the mercy of the hostile Mongolian weather or crammed in the capital, Ulan Bator, where they struggle to make a living even though the country sits on some of the world's richest mineral reserves.

DDT found in children from Mexico and Central America
February 18, 2010 03:37 PM - Lucina Melesio, SciDevNet

Children from several Latin American countries have traces of the pesticide DDT in their blood, according to a study coordinated by the Pan American Health Organization. The children studied belong to 11 rural communities in Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama). In all but Guatemala, the researchers found exposure to DDT.

Overuse of fertilizer in China leads to soil acidification
February 18, 2010 06:35 AM - Editor, Ecologist

Overuse of nitrogen fertilisers in China is leading to rapid soil acidification and is causing lasting damage to ecosystems, according to soil study Nitrogen fertilisers used to increase crop yields in China are having "extreme" environmental consequences, according to a study from leading soil scientists.

Climate change affecting Kenya's coffee output
February 11, 2010 07:02 AM - Helen Nyambura-Mwaura, Reuters

Climate change has affected Kenyan coffee production through unpredictable rainfall patterns and excessive droughts, making crop management and disease control a nightmare, a researcher said on Thursday. Intermittent rainfall in the 2007/08 crop year, for example, caused a terrible bout of the Coffee Berry Disease that cut Kenyan output 23 percent to 42,000 metric tons as farmers were caught out by rains and did not protect their crop in time. "We have seen climate change in intermittent rainfall patterns, extended drought and very high temperatures," said Joseph Kimemia, director of research at Kenya's Coffee Research Foundation (CRF).

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