Agriculture

Unethical Ethanol Tariff
December 28, 2007 12:00 PM - Adam Dean, Global Policy Innovations Program

Brazilian President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva and U.S. President Bush met last week at Camp David to discuss the future of ethanol. As the world's largest producer of sugar and a pioneer in the production of ethanol, Brazil is a key ally in Bush's plan to reduce America's foreign oil dependence and environmental footprint. Imports of Brazilian ethanol could be a major step toward achieving Bush's goal of reducing American gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next ten years. As ethanol can be produced from sugar, increased consumption of the fuel in the United States could also lead to a higher commodity price for sugar producers in Brazil, with the potential to lift thousands out of poverty.

Traditional medicine plants disappearing as demand rises
December 27, 2007 03:22 PM - Carol Campbell, SciDevNet

Johannesburg - A dwindling supply of wild medicinal plants is threatening South Africa's traditional medicine industry, according to new research. In a paper published by the nongovernmental organisation Health Systems Trust this month, researchers found that the demand for traditional medicine is higher than ever — stimulated by HIV/AIDS, unemployment and rapid urbanisation.

Antibiotics in Feed, MRSA, & Factory Farms: Will We Let Corporate Agribusiness Kill Us?
December 27, 2007 10:42 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

A new study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emerging Infectious Diseases links a new strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), once found only in pigs, to more than 20 percent of all human MRSA infections in the Netherlands (the study can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/13/12/1834.htm).

Coffee, tea linked to lower risk of kidney cancer
December 24, 2007 11:01 AM - Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Coffee and tea lovers may have a slightly reduced risk of developing kidney cancer, research hints. The findings, based on an analysis of 13 previous studies, suggest that coffee and tea may be protective against kidney cancer, while milk, soda and juice seem to have no effect one way or the other.

Brazil cracks down on illegal Amazon farm products
December 21, 2007 02:53 PM - Raymond Colitt, Reuters

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil has banned the sale of farm products from illegally deforested areas in the Amazon in an attempt to reverse months of increasing destruction in the world's largest rain forest, officials said on Friday. A decree signed by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Friday imposes fines for buying or trading goods such as beef or soy produced on illegally deforested properties.

Florida rules could open vast ethanol market
December 21, 2007 02:52 PM - Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Florida published new proposed motor fuel rules on Friday that could lead to wider ethanol blending in the country's third largest gasoline market. Limited ethanol blending had already been occurring in Florida, but the issuing of broad rules on gasoline containing ethanol is a step in creating the regulatory framework needed in opening up the market to the burgeoning U.S. ethanol industry.

USDA's Conner: Crop supplies "dicey" in 2008
December 20, 2007 02:38 PM - Charles Abbott, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. farmers will win the race to grow enough corn, wheat and soybeans to satisfy food, feed and biofuel needs although 2008 will be "very dicey," said acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner on Thursday. "I would never bet against our farmers on this issue," Conner said in looking ahead to 2008 crops. For the second year in a row, zooming demand for U.S. crops will require a huge harvest to avoid shortfalls. "We have said it is going to be very dicey."

EU ministers stall new soil protection rules
December 20, 2007 12:38 PM - Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union environment ministers put new rules to protect soil in the bloc on a backburner on Thursday after a coalition led by Britain and Germany blocked the adoption of a draft law. The bill had sought to prevent the soil's deterioration from industrial use and the effects of climate change. It would have obliged the EU's 27 nations to set up public inventories of sites where soil may be contaminated with dangerous substances and lay out ways to clean them up. "There was a blocking minority against the soil directive. Maybe we will return to it in the future, but it is unclear when," an EU diplomat said. The diplomat said advocates of the planned law had failed to muster a qualified majority to adopt it when Britain, Germany France, Austria and the Netherlands voted against.

Grow more food in cities, U.N. agency tells Asia
December 19, 2007 12:54 PM - Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) - Asian nations, many at risk from climate change, must invest more in urban and indoor farming to help feed the hundreds of millions of people in their growing cities, the World Meteorological Organisation said on Wednesday. Of the 10 countries most affected by extreme weather in 2006, seven were Asian -- Afghanistan, China, India, Indonesia, North Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam, said the WMO, the U.N. agency looking at weather, climate and water problems.

Saving Plants that Save Lives
December 19, 2007 08:33 AM - WWF Newsroom

Poor or non-existent collection controls are threatening the survival of many of the plant species used in traditional and modern medicines. On some estimates, 15,000 of the 50,000 — 70,000 plant species used for medicinal purposes and mostly collected from the wild may be threatened, many as a direct result of unsustainable collection practices.

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