Agriculture

FACTBOX - Foot and mouth disease
September 13, 2007 08:32 AM - Reuters

Following are facts about foot and mouth disease after an outbreak was confirmed in southern England on Wednesday, around 30 miles (50 km) from the scene of the last confirmed outbreak in August. Britain suffered a major outbreak of the disease in 2001 which cost the economy an estimated 8.5 billion pounds with more than six million animals culled.

Proposed Law Says Switch To Organic Farming, Receive $80,000
September 12, 2007 05:19 PM - Organic Consumers Association

Washington - U.S. Senator, and organic farmer, Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Wednesday introduced legislation calling for assistance to American farmers, who want to begin farming without fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Tester said the legislation is aimed at helping farmers voluntarily make the switch from traditional farming techniques to certified-organic farming by providing up to four $20,000 annual payments to farmers whose land has not been previously certified as organic. "Making the switch to organics shouldn't be a make-or-break decision for family farmers," Tester said. "It should be a decision that ultimately saves them time and money while increasing the value of the stuff they grow."

New British Foot And Mouth Case Confirmed
September 12, 2007 12:00 PM - Toby Melville, Reuters

EGHAM (Reuters) - Foot and mouth disease has struck a new cattle farm in southern England, the government said on Wednesday, prompting the European Union to suspend a decision to lift its ban on British meat exports. The agriculture ministry said a surveillance zone of more than 10 km (6 miles) had been placed around the farm in Egham, Surrey, about 30 miles from the scene of the last confirmed outbreak in August. Veterinary authorities ordered an immediate cull of the herd in question.

Survey: Consumers Trust Food Grown Locally, But Not Foreign Grown
September 11, 2007 06:42 PM - Leopold Center News

AMES, Iowa -- A recent survey shows that American consumers trust local foods, but are skeptical about the safety of the global food system. A new survey also found that consumers feel local foods are safer and better for their health than foods from afar.

Researchers To Study Ecological Genomics
September 11, 2007 05:03 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

MANHATTAN -- A research geneticist at Kansas State University, will be taking a much closer look at the complex relationship between genes in a microscopic worm and a changing environment. "Global change" says Dr Michael Herman,"is making the environment sick, and we're using genomics to understand exactly what's going wrong." A big federal grant will allow him to continue his research on soil nematodes, a nearly microscopic organism, in the emerging field of ecological genomics. The money comes from a National Science Foundation grant, $622,000. With it, Dr Herman will further his research on soil nematodes, a nearly microscopic type of worm, in the emerging field of ecological genomics.

Crop Yields Expand, but Nutrition Is Left Behind
September 10, 2007 02:44 PM - , Worldwatch Institute

Farmers today can grow two to three times as much grain, fruit, and vegetables on a plot of land as they could 50 years ago, but the nutritional quality of many crops has declined, according to a new report from The Organic Center, a group based in Boulder, Colorado. “To get our recommended daily allowance of nutrients, we have to eat many more slices of bread today than people had to eat in the past,”

Enforce Fertilizer Runoff Laws: Report
September 10, 2007 01:50 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. farmers should be required to control soil erosion and fertilizer runoff from all land eligible for crop subsidies -- which would be a major expansion of "conservation compliance" rules now in place, an environmental group said on Monday. In the report, the Environmental Working Group also advocated stricter enforcement of conservation compliance. Created in 1985, the rule requires farmers to control erosion on highly erodible land in exchange for crop supports and other federal farm benefits.

FDA Considers Additional Food Labels
September 10, 2007 08:03 AM - Andrew Bridges -Associated Press

If an increasingly overweight America's eyes are bigger than its stomach, then placing more nutritional information in plain sight could allow shoppers to see their way to more healthy choices while scanning food labels.

More CO2, Plants Less Thirsty, Rivers Higher
September 9, 2007 12:15 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

University of Exeter, UK - Rising carbon dioxide levels will increase river levels in the future, according to a team of scientists from the Met Office Hadley Centre, the University of Exeter and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. The findings, published on 30 August 2007 in the journal Nature, suggest that increasing carbon dioxide will cause plants to extract less water from the soil, leaving more water to drain into rivers which will add to the river flow increases already expected due to climate change.

PBS Documentary: The Silence Of The Bees
September 9, 2007 10:52 AM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

NEW YORK, - From crop fields to hi-tech labs, scientists and bee experts are investigating a rapidly unfolding ecological nightmare. The Silence of the Bees premieres on Sunday, October 28 at 8 p.m. eastern on PBS (check local listings). Academy Award-winning actor F. Murray Abraham narrates the series. It was shot on high definition cameras. Honeybees are responsible for one of every three bites of food we eat. Each year, they pollinate $14 billion worth of crops and seeds in the U.S. alone. Their total decimation would be catastrophic from the local to the global level -- failed businesses, skyrocketing food prices, unsustainable labor costs, and depleted supplies of fruits, nuts, vegetables, plants, and more.

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