Agriculture

Egypt's factory farming boom threatens social strife in a hungry country
November 24, 2010 08:36 AM - Joseph Mayton, Ecologist

Increasing demand for meat in the land of the Pyramids is leading to more intensive farming, with serious consequences for food prices, the environment and animal welfare, reports Joseph Mayton in Cairo.

'Wonder food' spreads to Middle East
November 23, 2010 03:45 PM - Hazem Badr, SciDevNet

A nutritious blue-green algae, known as spirulina, has been added to school meals in Jordan to combat chronic malnutrition and anaemia among children. The Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina against Malnutrition (IIMSAM), which has observer status with the UN Economic and Social Council, says spirulina is rich in protein and vitamin B, and contains beta-carotene that can overcome eye problems caused by Vitamin A deficiency. A tablespoon a day can eliminate iron anaemia, the most common mineral deficiency.

Modern Insecticides' Devastating Effects
November 16, 2010 09:30 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Like DDT before it, a new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids is believed to be causing drastic population declines in bird species. It is so effective at killing insects, that it has deprived birds of their basic food. Some scientists also believe they are behind the decline in bee populations in Europe and the United States known as honey-bee Colony Collapse Disorder.

The New Floods and Droughts
November 15, 2010 12:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Dust storms scour Iraq. Freak floods wreak havoc in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Rising sea levels erode Egypt's coast. Tuvulu and the Seychelles may disappear altogether as hey submerge into the ocean. A comprehensive vulnerability index suggests you move to Scandinavia, Ireland or Iceland as slightly safer places. The teeming plains of Asia are at greater risk in the next 30 years. Ten of the 16 most vulnerable countries are in Asia where high populations, low lying land and potential water shortages will plague more than other places and people. High Asia is dominated by many steep, dramatic mountain ranges that run through parts of Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, India, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and other countries. The region is home to more than 50,000 glaciers that are vital water lifelines to Asia's largest rivers, including the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Indus and Ganges. Roughly two billion people depend on these rivers for their water and food supply. What happens when all this changes with the climate?

A Devilish Grass Invades the West
November 15, 2010 08:41 AM - Virginia Morell, Science AAAS

Armed with pointed tips so sharp that neither cows nor deer will eat it, medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) is an invasive grass species that seems to have stepped right out of the Little Shop of Horrors. With no enemies, it is spreading rapidly throughout the western United States, outcompeting native grasses and even other grass invaders. Unless steps are found to control its spread, medusahead is likely to turn millions of hectares of grazing land into worthless fields, say researchers in a study that determined why this grass is so successful.

Whisky and waves: the future of Scottish isle's power?
November 12, 2010 02:22 PM - Ffion Llwyd-Jones, Ecologist

Communities on the Isle of Islay are moving forward with plans for tidal energy and renewable fuels while maintaining age old methods of agriculture and whisky distilling.

Cocoa Crisis, stock up on chocolate now!
November 12, 2010 06:53 AM - Tim Wall, Discovery News

Chocolate was once the drink of Mayan and Aztec kings. Now a cocoa shortage may make chocolate an exclusive luxury again. Chocolate could become as rare as caviar, said John Mason of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council. Which means chocolate treats may become unaffordable for the average person. The price of cocoa, the raw ingredient for chocolate, has been skyrocketing in international markets.

War-torn Vietnam Attempts to Replant its Forests
November 8, 2010 09:58 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

There are few regions around the world that have seen less battle in the last 50 years than Vietnam. The conflict during the 1960s and early 1970s left a huge impact of the country's natural ecosystems. Then after the war, agriculture and the logging industry destroyed even larger areas. Now, a consensus on how to replant the forests remains elusive.

Tropical agriculture "double-whammy": high emissions, low yields
November 3, 2010 08:39 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Food produced in the tropics comes with high carbon emissions and low crop yields, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). In the most comprehensive and detailed study to date looking at carbon emissions versus crop yields, researchers found that food produced in the tropics releases almost double the amount of carbon while producing half the yield as food produced in temperate regions. In other words, temperate food production is three times more efficient in terms of yield and carbon emissions.

Organic farms better at potato beetle control
November 3, 2010 06:37 AM - Daniel Cressey, Nature News

A study suggesting that organic agriculture gives better pest control and larger plants than conventional farming is sure to reignite longstanding debates about the merits of organic versus conventional agriculture. It also highlights an often-neglected aspect of biodiversity. "Organic agriculture promotes more balanced communities of predators," says David Crowder, author of the new study published today in Nature.

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