Agriculture

Biofuel impact on farm prices overplayed
January 14, 2008 08:42 AM - Reuters

The recent price rally in farm commodities such as grains, oilseeds and sugar beet can be attributed partly to higher biofuel demand but their share of the blame has been exaggerated, a top official of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Loek Boonekamp, a division head in the Agro-food Trade and Markets Division at the Paris-based OECD, said the surge in farm product prices -- with cereals more than doubling last year -- would have happened even without the rise in biofuel production.

Biotech companies race for drought-tolerant crops
January 14, 2008 05:21 AM - Reuters

Outside the headquarters of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc, the pavement is iced over and workers arriving for the day are bundled up against the cold. But inside a laboratory, a warm, man-made drought is in force, curling the leaves of rows of fledgling corn plants as million-dollar machines and scientists in white coats monitor their distress.

Asian biodiesel plants sit idle as costs soar
January 14, 2008 04:37 AM - Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - For many of southeast Asia's struggling biofuel makers, the global debate over using crops for food or as transport fuel is irrelevant -- a surge in palm oil prices has brought the industry to a standstill. Even oil prices at $100 a barrel aren't helping companies who have invested tens of millions of dollars into plants that convert Indonesian or Malaysian palm oil into near zero-pollution diesel -- at a cost some 30 percent higher than regular diesel.

France says extends ban on GMO crop
January 11, 2008 05:00 PM - Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) - France will activate a safeguard clause that will effectively prohibit growing the sole genetically modified (GMO) crop grown in France, Prime Minister Francois Fillon's office said in a statement on Friday. Last month, France, pressured by consumers, suspended the commercial use of MON 810, a maize developed by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto, in order to look into the environmental and health implications of its use.

Be wary of biotech lettuce experiments
January 11, 2008 09:50 AM - GM Watch.org

The Salinas Californian recently reported on a talk by Professor Henry Daniell, who was here to promote cultivation of drug-producing lettuce. The biotechnology industry has long hoped to use plants, including common food crops, to produce high-profit new drugs. It is worth noting that Daniell is not only an academic; he is also the founder of Chlorogen, Inc., a company that hopes to profit from these so-called 'pharm' crops.

Cloning-for-food growth seen slow if FDA approves
January 10, 2008 12:30 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Regulatory approval could catalyze the nascent U.S. cloning industry, but leading firms say growth would come slowly as they battle to win consumers over to the concept of food from cloned animals.

Brazil sees sharp farm growth, despite environment
January 10, 2008 06:35 AM - Reuters

Brazil's farm sector will grow rapidly over the next decade and double some of its leading exports despite concerns over Amazon destruction and farmers' debt, the government said on Wednesday. Critics say Brazil's rapidly expanding agricultural frontier has helped push farmers and loggers deeper into the world's largest rain forest, increasing destruction.

French farmers say government playing GMO games
January 9, 2008 09:42 AM - Reuters

Speaking to reporters, FNSEA President Jean-Michel Lemetayer decried what he described as government foot-dragging on talks over a new GMO law and said planned legal steps to extend a GMO ban could fail.

Forget Oil, the New Global Crisis is Food
January 8, 2008 04:49 PM - , Organic Consumers Association

A new crisis is emerging, a global food catastrophe that will reach further and be more crippling than anything the world has ever seen. The credit crunch and the reverberations of soaring oil prices around the world will pale in comparison to what is about to transpire, Donald Coxe, global portfolio strategist at BMO Financial Group said at the Empire Club's 14th annual investment outlook in Toronto on Thursday. "It's not a matter of if, but when," he warned investors. "It's going to hit this year hard."

Cornell patents a pink lily look-alike that blooms all summer long
January 8, 2008 04:32 PM - Cornell University Communications

Mauve Majesty is one cool lily look-alike. This new pinkish-purple ornamental flower, just patented by Cornell, can last for two weeks in a vase, but when left in the garden, it blooms all summer long in the cooler, northern states until the first hard freeze in the fall. The new hybrid of the Inca lily (Alstroemeria), which was developed by a Cornell professor, is a non-fragrant perennial that is set apart by its lavender-lilac flower color (which is adorned with dark speckling and a creamy yellow throat), its strong, upright flower stems and its winter hardiness. In greenhouses, the new hybrid never goes dormant and grows year-round.

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