Agriculture

Brazilian Lessons for Industrial Policy
May 21, 2010 02:43 PM - Tarun Khanna and Santiago Mingo, Global Policy Innovations Program

Few economic ideas are more lauded and reviled than that of industrial policy. Proponents, such as those who studied the rise of the East Asian economies, swear by it. Opponents see red at its very mention. The former point to economic development; the latter maintain that tens, even hundreds, of billions of dollars have been squandered.

Shifting rivers threaten India's top tea region
May 19, 2010 06:40 AM - Biswajyoti Das, Reuters

Shifting rivers in India's largest tea producing state and abnormally high rainfall this year is destroying hundreds of acres of tea gardens and could cut output in the world's second-largest tea grower. More than a tenth of the 18,000 hectares of plantations, or tea gardens, in India's northeast state of Assam could be washed away as the mighty Himalaya-born Brahmaputra and other smaller rivers flood the region where century-old operations grow over half of India's tea. "Some tea gardens have already fallen into rivers and some of them are on the verge of disappearing," said Dipanjol Deka, secretary general of Tea Association of India (TAI) in Guwahati, the main city in the region.

Cumberland River Crest Highest in 73 Years
May 17, 2010 09:52 AM - USGS Newsroom

Rivers throughout middle Tennessee crested at record high levels last week. They exceeded previous highs at many streamgages by as much as 14 feet, according to preliminary estimates released today by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The highest flood levels were recorded on May 2 and 3, from Nashville west toward Jackson, extending about 40-miles north and south of Interstate 40, and affecting major tributaries to the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers.

Which Fish to Eat? Study Finds Lower Mercury in Most Top-Selling Seafood
April 28, 2010 09:23 AM - Jennifer F. Nyland, Organic Consumers Association

Experts send a mixed message to consumers when it comes to eating fish: it's good for your heart health but beware of the methylmercury. A new way of organizing and ranking the pollutant's levels in fish and shellfish may help consumers navigate this apparent contradiction, according to the study's author.

Soil Production of C02 May Decline As World Warms
April 27, 2010 08:02 AM - Yale Environment 360

Contradicting earlier studies showing that soil microbes will emit more carbon dioxide as global warming intensifies, new research suggests that these microbes become less efficient over time in a warmer environment and would actually emit less CO2. The research, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, could have important implications for calculating how much heat-trapping CO2 will accumulate in the atmosphere as temperatures rise. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, as well as Colorado State and Yale universities, found that soil microbes, in the form of bacteria and fungi, rapidly exhale CO2 for a short period of time in a warmer environment.

Volcano disrupts African rose exports
April 20, 2010 06:06 AM - Jeremy Clarke and Antony Gitonga, Reuters

Kenyan flower farmer Jack Kneppers was forced on Monday to throw 6.5 tons of his exquisite roses into a compost pit after flights headed for Europe were canceled because of the ash cloud. Kenya's horticulture industry has already lost $12 million to the European airspace closure and it will take several weeks to recover even if flights resume now, its association of exporters said. Kneppers' farm by picturesque Lake Naivasha in southwest Kenya produces 11 varieties of pristine roses worth tens of thousands of dollars every day. "We have to throw them into big pits and turn them into compost," Kneppers said, standing in front of rows of boxes full of flowers that he fears will meet the same fate.

Mercury surprise: Rice can be risky
April 19, 2010 09:22 AM - Janet Raloff, Science News

Ask toxicologists how best to avoid mercury poisoning and they’ll almost certainly advise against eating too much of the wrong types of fish. (Never mind that there’s considerable confusion about what the wrong types are.) But a new study out of China shows that for millions of people at risk of eating toxic amounts of mercury-laced food, fish isn’t the problem. Rice is.

US Eastern forests suffer "substantial" decline: 3.7 million hectares gone
April 12, 2010 11:58 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

The United States' Eastern forests have suffered a "substantial and sustained net loss" over the past few decades, according to a detailed study appearing in BioScience. From 1973 to 2000, Eastern have declined by 4.1 percent or 3.7 million hectares. Deforestation occurred in all Eastern regions, but the loss was most concentrated in the southeastern plains.

Brazil farmers shown how to profit by conserving
April 8, 2010 07:30 AM - Luciana Lopez, Reuters

Talk of ecological diversity or saving rare species does not fly very far in Mato Grosso. The state is Brazil's top soy producer, churning out an annual harvest of about 18 million tones. Fields of emerald green line the highways, stretching out to horizons so flat they look drawn with a ruler. The crops have helped fuel Brazil's economic boom of recent years but they come at a price -- the clearing of more than 130,000 square km (50,000 square miles) of Amazon rain forest in the state from 1988 through 2008, to the widespread condemnation of environmental groups. Years of acrimony have built up. When a visitor mentions environmentalists, the faces of Mato Grosso farmers often cloud with hostility. So, with "save the world" emotional appeals not working, environmentalists are turning to economic arguments, stressing how preserving the world's largest forest can mean bigger profits for farmers.

"Shocking" Reasons to Go Organic
April 6, 2010 08:47 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

Eating organic foods has lots of benefits, from protecting the environment to helping you stay slim and healthier. Now, Rodale Inc. CEO and Chairman Maria Rodale is out with a book called "Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe."

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