Agriculture

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.

Scientists warn against reduction in EU pesticides
April 23, 2008 06:44 AM - Reuters

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - A group of European Union scientists has warned against a planned reduction in the number of pesticides allowed in the EU, claiming this could increase resistance of pests and make crop cultivation uncompetitive. "The scientists from seven countries fear that reducing the available range of pesticides could lower their efficiency as it is likely that it will increase resistance," they said in a statement received by Reuters late on Tuesday.

International Commission Calls for ”˜Paradigm Shift’ in Agriculture
April 21, 2008 07:44 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

A commission of international agriculture experts unveiled a series of reports on Wednesday calling for an end to "business-as-usual" farming practices to avoid widespread environmental degradation and increasing food scarcity. The group of more than 400 experts, known as the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), concluded through its global and regional studies that governments and industries need to discontinue environmentally damaging farming methods. Farmers should have greater access to agricultural technology and science, especially in the developing world, to ensure productivity increases without further environmental degradation, the reports say.

World Facing Huge New Challenge on Food Front: Business as Usual Not a Vialble Option
April 18, 2008 09:13 AM - Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute

A fast-unfolding food shortage is engulfing the entire world, driving food prices to record highs. Over the past half-century grain prices have spiked from time to time because of weather-related events, such as the 1972 Soviet crop failure that led to a doubling of world wheat, rice, and corn prices. The situation today is entirely different, however. The current doubling of grain prices is trend-driven, the cumulative effect of some trends that are accelerating growth in demand and other trends that are slowing the growth in supply.

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