Agriculture

African Expert: Wary Farmers, Not climate Change Is Problem
October 29, 2007 02:02 PM - Henry Neondo, SciDevNet

Low crop yields in Africa is not due to climate change but rather farmers failing to exploit opportunities in wetter years, says a Kenya-based scientist. Peter Cooper, principal scientist for Eastern and Southern Africa at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Nairobi, argues that much of African society, particularly politicians and policy-makers, wrongly blames climate change for harvest irregularities.

U.N. Food Expert Seeks Moratorium on Biofuels
October 26, 2007 04:09 PM - Claudia Parsons, Reuters

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food called on Friday for a five-year moratorium on biofuels, saying it was a "crime against humanity" to convert food crops to fuel.

Biofuels are driving up food prices at a time when there are 854 million hungry people in the world and every five seconds a child under 10 dies from hunger or disease related to malnutrition, Jean Ziegler said.

Fears over climate change have boosted the demand for alternative fuels, but the rise of biofuel has been criticized by some who say it squeezes land needed for food.

Class Action Lawsuits Filed Against Aurora Organic Dairy Alleging Deceptive Practices
October 26, 2007 03:17 PM -

St. Louis, MO, Denver, CO - Class action lawsuits were filed in US district courts in St. Louis and Denver this week alleging that Aurora Dairy Corporation, doing business as Aurora Organic Dairy, committed "unfair and deceptive practices" and was unjustly enriched by marketing and selling milk alleged to be organic, at prices "much higher" than non-organic milk, when the company knew or should have known that its milk did not meet the standards of organic certification.

 

 

Aurora Dairy said it will defend itself vigorously against the fraud claims and against any other such suits that may be brought. The company expressed confidence it will prevail, should any of the cases go to trial.

Doing it Green
October 25, 2007 07:11 PM - Anne Keefe, Owner, EclipseSpa

EclipseSpa was created by me, Danville, California resident Anne Keefe. My comapny makes a collection of fine organic bath and beauty products that include bath salts, shower gels, lotions, soaps and tea baths in a variety of scents and a line of soy candles and spa music. EclipseSpa products are formulated with organic ingredients. They do not contain any agents known to be harmful to the body. I am committed to sustainable practices and providing the most outstanding organic bath & body essentials. 

As a business owner I had to decide philosophically how to run my business, making choices not only about what is important to me, but also to what my customers, and prospective customers, need and expect from a company. With the heightened media coverage on Global Warming, the Live Earth Day Concert, and everyone making adjustments, on both a corporate level as well as individuals committing to sustainable practices everyday at home, we can no longer deny that there is a long-term problem. 

EU Allows Imports of Four GMO Crop Products
October 24, 2007 07:35 AM - Reuters

BRUSSELS - The European Union has authorized imports of four genetically modified (GMO) crop products for sale across its 27 national markets for the next 10 years, the European Commission said on Wednesday.  Three of the GMO products are maize types, two of them hybrids, and the fourth is a sugar beet. None would be grown in Europe but would be imported for use in food and animal feed.

Food safety rules tightened after E. coli recall
October 23, 2007 06:20 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. food safety inspectors said Tuesday they will expand tests and recall infected meat more rapidly to combat E. coli contamination of meat products after the largest American manufacturer of hamburger patties went out of business this month.

The U.S. Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a briefing the number of E. coli recalls climbed to 15 so far in 2007 compared to the five cases reported in all of 2005.

"We want the American consumer to know that FSIS has taken a number of aggressive actions ... associated with this pathogen and we are further expanding these efforts," said Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond.

Brazil Will Burn Sugarcane Fields Until 2017
October 22, 2007 02:41 PM -

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Almost 100 sugar and ethanol mills in Brazil's main sugar cane state Sao Paulo have agreed to stop the practice of burning cane fields by 2017, the Sugar Cane Industry Union (Unica) said on Monday.

These mills crush more than 50 percent of the cane output in Sao Paulo, Brazil's No. 1 cane producing state that accounts for around 63 percent of the national crop.

In June, Unica had signed an agreement with the state government in which mills were to ban cane burning in the state by 2017, well before 2031 target mandated by a state law.

Bee Expert: Insecticides, Climate, Malnutrition, Paracites And Microbes Collapsing Bee Colonies
October 22, 2007 11:15 AM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Davis, California - Noted University of California, Davis honey bee specialist Eric Mussen fingered a line-up of prime suspects in the case of  Disappearing Bees. Mussen identified malnutrition, parasitic mites, infectious microbes and insecticide contamination as among the possible culprits. It's a complex issue, he said, but one thing is certain: "It seems unlikely that we will find a specific, new and different reason for why bees are dying."

"One third of our U.S. diet depends on honey bees," Mussen said. "If bees produce fruits and vegetables somewhere else, do we (Americans) want to be as dependent on food as we are on oil?"

Increase in Grain Prices Affects U.S. Food Donations
October 22, 2007 09:22 AM - Jessica Hanson , Worldwatch Institute

From Illinois corn to Kansas wheat, U.S. grain crops are experiencing their fastest price hike since 1990. The rise in prices is being felt not only at the grocery store, but also in international food policy, as the costs of corn, cooking oil, and other items commonly purchased for U.S. food aid programs have increased sharply. The United States is the largest single donor of food worldwide, but the volume of aid provided through its leading assistance program, Food for Peace, dropped by more than half between 2000 and 2007, to 2.4 million metric tons, in response to a 35-percent increase in the cost of agricultural commodities in the last two years.

Don't go near the baobab at Nigerian heritage site
October 22, 2007 12:43 AM - Estelle Shirbon

SUKUR, Nigeria (Reuters) - Visitors to Sukur are warned not to approach a certain ancient baobab tree because, villagers say, it turns people into hermaphrodites.

It is an atmospheric introduction to this Nigerian World Heritage Site for the trickle of outsiders who come, but villagers who trek up and down from the remote hillside community are ready for an injection of modernity.

A road would be a start.

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