Agriculture

Saving wheat crops worldwide
February 24, 2009 09:54 AM - CSIRO Australia

CSIRO Plant Industry scientists and international collaborators have discovered the key to overcoming three major cereal diseases, which in epidemic years cost wheat growers worldwide in excess of AUS$7.8 billion. In a paper published today in the prestigious journal Science, scientists from CSIRO Plant Industry, the University of Zurich and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center have identified a wheat gene sequence which provides protection against leaf rust, stripe rust and powdery mildew.

The Hidden Link Between Factory Farms and Human Illness
February 18, 2009 09:41 AM - Organic Consumers Association

You may be familiar with many of the problems associated with concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. These "factory farm" operations are often criticized for the smell and water pollution caused by all that concentrated manure; the unnatural, grain-heavy diets the animals consume; and the stressful, unhealthy conditions in which the animals live. You may not be aware, however, of the threat such facilities hold for you and your family’s health — even if you never buy any of the meat produced in this manner.

Seed bank for the world threatened by financial crisis
January 29, 2009 11:34 AM - Georgina Cooper, Reuters

ARDINGLY, England (Reuters) - A seed bank that is trying to collect every type of plant in the world is now under threat from the global financial crisis, its director says.

How Meat Contributes to Global Warming
January 28, 2009 09:43 AM - Scientific American

Most of us are aware that our cars, our coal-generated electric power and even our cement factories adversely affect the environment. Until recently, however, the foods we eat had gotten a pass in the discussion. Yet according to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), our diets and, specifically, the meat in them cause more greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and the like to spew into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry. (Greenhouse gases trap solar energy, thereby warming the earth's surface. Because gases vary in greenhouse potency, every greenhouse gas is usually expressed as an amount of CO2 with the same global-warming potential.)

Unintended Hazards of Genetically Modified Food & Crops
January 28, 2009 09:16 AM - Organic Consumers Assoication

Much of the public debate concerning genetically modified organisms, their widespread use in animal and human food, and their impact upon the environment could be raised to an entirely new and more productive level if certain undisputed facts were more widely known. The facts at issue have to do with the unintended and systemic consequences of genetic manipulations, as revealed in one research report after another.

India debuts 'agricultural Wikipedia'
January 22, 2009 08:40 AM - Science and Development Network

[NEW DELHI] Indian scientists have launched an 'agricultural Wikipedia' to act as an online repository of agricultural information in the country. The government-backed initiative, Agropedia, was launched last week (12 January). It aims to disseminate crop- and region-specific information to farmers and agricultural extension workers — who communicate agricultural information and research findings to farmers — and provide information for students and researchers.

Something Fishy? Counterfeit Foods Enter the U.S. Market
January 21, 2009 08:52 AM - Organic Consumers Association

Some of your favorite foods may be fakes. Foods masquerading as something else - a more nutritious something else - have been big news in the past two years. Chinese food companies in particular have been blamed for making deadly alterations to dairy, baby and pet foods by adding melamine. The chemical makes it appear that the food or beverage has the required level of protein. But what about food producers in this country? What fraudulent foods do U.S. consumers have to fear from American companies?

With No Doha Conclusion in Sight, WTO Considers How to Proceed
January 21, 2009 08:23 AM - World Business Council for Sustainable Development

New negotiating texts released in early December failed to inspire confidence among WTO Members that ministers would succeed in clinching a framework deal on agriculture and industrial market access (see pages 5 and 7). Bowing to the inevitable, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy told the membership on 12 December that his consultations with capitals had not revealed “a readiness to spend the political capital” needed to reach an agreement. The US had particularly little room to manoeuvre after its main farming and manufacturing lobbies, as well as a bi-partisan group of senators, advised against a ministerial meeting. Indian officials also expressed serious doubts over the likelihood of achieving convergence. Traditional grumblings from mercantilist perspectives were promptly heard from many corners on the terms of the market access texts on the table.

Study Says Wild-Harvested Plants and Animals are Now About 20 Percent Smaller
January 20, 2009 09:13 AM - Organic Consumers Association

Policymakers may not intend to keep us trim when they're pondering how to manage fisheries and other wild food resources. But a new study indicates that our current food-harvesting practices are making the stuff we eat smaller - very quickly. The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that plants and animals being harvested aggressively around the world from the wild (rather than from farms) are changing more than two and a half times faster than would be expected under natural conditions.

Developing Country Action on Global Warming: Speech of South African Minister
January 16, 2009 09:54 AM - Global Warming is Real

I just wrapped up an event that NRDC co-hosted with Climate Change Capitalon Emerging Strategies for International Climate & Investment Policy on Capital Hill. The event was aimed at beginning a serious discussion about how to structure international incentives to encourage greater emissions reductions in developing countries in the post-2012 agreement in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). We had the pleasure of having Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism provide a keynote address. He is a powerful leader amongst developing countries and South Africa is staking out a leadership role in battling global warming. In July 2008, South Africa announced a Cabinet-level commitment to have theirglobal warming pollution peak, plateau, and decline.

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