Agriculture

Dust in West up 500 percent in past 2 centuries
February 25, 2008 09:55 AM - University of Colorado at Boulder

The West has become 500 percent dustier in the past two centuries due to westward U.S. expansion and accompanying human activity beginning in the 1800s, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder. Sediment records from dust blown into alpine lakes in southwest Colorado's San Juan Mountains over millennia indicates the sharp rise in dust deposits coincided with railroad, ranching and livestock activity in the middle of the last century, said geological sciences Assistant Professor Jason Neff, lead author on the study. The results have implications ranging from ecosystem alteration to human health, he said.

Using organic fertilizers could protect against climate change
February 25, 2008 09:25 AM - ENN

Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, and Singapore (25 February, 2008) — Applying organic fertilizers, such as those resulting from composting, to agricultural land could increase the amount of carbon stored in these soils and contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new research published in a special issue of Waste Management & Research (Special issue published today by SAGE).

Amazon nuts help fuel first biofuel flight
February 24, 2008 08:22 AM - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Nuts picked from Amazon rainforests helped fuel the world's first commercial airline flight powered by renewable energy on Sunday. A Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet flew from London to Amsterdam with one of its fuel tanks filled with a bio-jet blend including babassu oil and coconut oil.

Traces of unapproved GMO trait found in U.S. corn
February 22, 2008 05:33 PM - Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Traces of an unapproved genetically modified trait were found in U.S. corn planted in 2006 and 2007 but the grain poses no threat to food or feed safety, said the U.S Agriculture Department on Friday. The 2008 corn crop will not be affected when it is planted this spring across the United States, the world's largest corn exporter.

Cleaner water through nanotechnology
February 21, 2008 10:32 AM - ENN

Tiny particles of pure silica coated with an active material could be used to remove toxic chemicals, bacteria, viruses, and other hazardous materials from water much more effectively and at lower cost than conventional water purification methods, according to researchers writing in the current issue of the International Journal of Nanotechnology.

Ag economist: World grain demand straining U.S. supply
February 20, 2008 11:43 AM - Perdue News

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Consumers usually reduce their purchases of goods and services if prices become too high. Buyers of United States corn, soybeans and wheat seem to be ignoring that economic principle, however, as the nation's grain stocks reach critically low levels, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist.

Biofuels and the Fertilizer Problem: Can a 'Renewable Fuel' Rely on Mining a Finite Resource?
February 18, 2008 07:31 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

While scrolling through news accounts of the recent boom in the agrochemicals industry -- yes, that's how I spend my days -- I came across an interesting take on biofuels and phosphate, a key element of soil fertility. The article, from Investors Business Daily, takes a standard rah-rah position on what it deems a "heyday in the heartland." The journal wants to make sure its readers know there's plenty of cash to be made investing in the companies catering to the great boom in industrial agriculture.

Boycott Called for Soybeans Coming from the Deforested Amazon Region of Brazil
February 14, 2008 09:29 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

The greatest emerging threat to Amazon rainforests and communities is industrial soy plantations. Huge mechanized, soy monocultures destroy tropical ecosystems, accelerate climate change and cause human rights abuses primarily to produce agrofuel and livestock feed. The soya industry wipes out biodiversity, destroys soil fertility, pollutes freshwater and displaces communities. Soybean production expands the agricultural frontier not only through fire and deforestation to clear ancient rainforests, but more importantly by pushing cattle ranches and displacing forest peoples further into natural rainforest ecosystems.

GMO plantings rise, greens cite environment risks
February 13, 2008 07:31 AM - Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Plantings of genetically modified (GMO) crops are increasingly widespread, a biotech industry body said on Wednesday, despite some public opposition and warnings by environmentalists that they may be unsafe. "After a dozen years of commercialization, biotech crops are still gaining ground with another year of growth and new countries joining the list of supporters," the biotech industry backed International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) said.

Biofuel Crops Increase Carbon Emissions
February 12, 2008 11:25 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

The conversion of forests and grasslands into fields for the plants offsets the benefit of using the fuel, researchers find. Greenhouse-gas output overall would rise instead of fall The rush to grow biofuel crops -- widely embraced as part of the solution to global warming -- is actually increasing greenhouse gas emissions rather than reducing them, according to two studies published Thursday in the journal Science.

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