Agriculture

EU parliament backs soil protection bill
November 14, 2007 01:01 PM - Reuters

The EU legislature, in its first reading of the draft laws, voted to have EU nations set up public inventories of sites where soil may be contaminated with dangerous substances and lay out ways to clean them up.

Palm oil: Cooking the Climate
November 13, 2007 08:33 AM - Greenpeace US

If, as you read this, you're eating a KitKat or reaching into a tube of Pringles, you might be interested to know that these products contain palm oil that is linked to the destruction of forests and peatlands in Indonesia. As our new report "How the palm oil industry is cooking the climate" shows, it's a recipe for disaster.

The manufacturers of these products - Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever - are sourcing their palm oil from suppliers who aren't picky about where they site their plantations. As the volunteers at the Forest Defenders Camp in Sumatra have seen, this includes tearing up areas of pristine forest then draining and burning the peatlands.

 

Chocolate began as beer-like brew 3,100 years ago
November 13, 2007 08:26 AM - Will Dunham -Reuters

The chocolate enjoyed around the world today had its origins at least 3,100 years ago in Central America not as the sweet treat people now crave but as a celebratory beer-like beverage and status symbol, scientists said on Monday.

Researchers identified residue of a chemical compound that comes exclusively from the cacao plant -- the source of chocolate -- in pottery vessels dating from about 1100 BC in Puerto Escondido, Honduras.

Brown root rot -- a potentially serious forage crop disease -- is found throughout the Northeast
November 13, 2007 08:14 AM - Cornell University

Cornell plant pathologists have detected brown root rot -- a potentially serious forage crop disease -- in the northeastern United States. It is widespread in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire and has been detected in Pennsylvania and Maine.

The findings are published in the October issue of the journal Plant Disease.

Life, biodiversity and harvesting honey in northern Kenya
November 13, 2007 08:12 AM - The World Conservation Union

Threats to the environment such as climate change, the scramble for water, and deforestation have created an urgent need for new ways of tackling these pressing issues which cater for all types of inhabitants.

In northern Kenya, an innovative programme steered by the African Union and partnered by IUCN’s East Africa Regional Office, aims to do just this. Known as the Dryland, Livestock/Wildlife Environment Interface Project (DLWEIP), the programme brings together all the stakeholders – community, government, donors, implementers – in a bid to manage natural resources equitably.

The Gulden Coffee Story
November 12, 2007 04:23 PM - Ana Trejos-Gulden, Global Policy Innovations Program

n 2002, I brought my husband Cem to visit the coffee regions of Colombia where I grew up. Traveling through these rural areas was like taking a journey back in time. The regions are unspoiled by modern development. Coffee growers tend to their crops with deep devotion, following a process that has been handed down for generations. When we witnessed the age-old tradition where beans are hand picked, dried in the sun, and oftentimes taken to market by mule, we knew we had found our calling and established GÜLDEN Coffee in 2003.

 

 

 

 

U.N.'s Ban says global warming is "an emergency"
November 10, 2007 06:00 PM - Juan Jose Lagorio, Reuters

EDUARDO FREI BASE, Antarctica (Reuters) - With prehistoric Antarctic ice sheets melting beneath his feet, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for urgent political action to tackle global warming.

The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed faster than anywhere else on Earth in the last 50 years, making the continent a fitting destination for Ban, who has made climate change a priority since he took office earlier this year.

"I need a political answer. This is an emergency and for emergency situations we need emergency action," he said during a visit to three scientific bases on the barren continent, where temperatures are their highest in about 1,800 years.

Nations share blame for Indonesia deforestation: VP
November 9, 2007 08:39 AM - Reuters

Foreign nations share the blame for the destruction of Indonesian forests and should pitch in to help restore them, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Friday.

Indonesia, host of a U.N. climate change conference in December, has been a driving force behind calls for rich countries to compensate poor states that preserve their rainforests to soak up greenhouse gases.

Human-generated Ozone Will Damage Crops, According to MIT Study
November 8, 2007 09:19 AM - MIT

A novel MIT study concludes that increasing levels of ozone due to the growing use of fossil fuels will damage global vegetation, resulting in serious costs to the world's economy.  The analysis, reported in the November issue of Energy Policy, focused on how three environmental changes (increases in temperature, carbon dioxide and ozone) associated with human activity will affect crops, pastures and forests.

Researchers to develop improved cowpea varieties
November 7, 2007 12:19 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

RIVERSIDE – Providing food security, one of the greatest challenges of our time, is a critical goal especially in the developing world, where crop destruction by drought, disease and pest infestation swiftly places millions of lives at risk of hunger.  Scientists will help meet this challenge by focusing on cowpea, a protein-rich legume crop of immense importance to Africa that complements starchy staple crops such as corn, cassava, sorghum and millets in the diets of millions of Africans.

“Our project will develop the key genomic resources that are currently lacking in cowpea,” said Timothy Close, a professor of genetics and a co-principal investigator of the grant, who leads at the University of California, Riverside's cowpea genomics effort. “We will use modern plant breeding approaches that employ new and efficient molecular marker development methodologies.”

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