Global food system faces threats from climate change
December 4, 2015 07:14 AM - UCAR
Climate change is likely to have far-reaching impacts on food security throughout the world, especially for the poor and those living in tropical regions, according to a new international report that includes three co-authors from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
We need to use Nitrogen fertilizers more efficiently
November 30, 2015 11:33 AM - B. Rose Huber, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
The global population is expected to increase by two to three billion people by 2050, a projection raising serious concerns about sustainable development, biodiversity and food security, but new research led by Princeton University shows that more efficient use of nitrogen fertilizers may address both environmental issues and crop production.
Today, more than half of the world's population is nourished by food grown with fertilizers containing synthetic nitrogen, which is needed to produce high crop yields. Plants take the nitrogen they need to grow, and the excess is left in the ground, water and air. This results in significant emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse and ozone-depleting gas, and other forms of nitrogen pollution, including chemical over-enrichment of lakes and rivers and contamination of drinking water.
New DOW weedkiller issues
November 26, 2015 08:40 AM - Dan Charles, NPR
Dow AgroSciences, which sells seeds and pesticides to farmers, made contradictory claims to different parts of the U.S. government about its latest herbicide. The Environmental Protection Agency just found out, and now wants to cancel Dow's legal right to sell the product.
The herbicide, which the company calls Enlist Duo, is a mixture of two chemicals that farmers have used separately for many years: glyphosate (also known as Roundup) and 2,4-D. It's Dow's answer to the growing problem of weeds that are resistant to glyphosate, which has become the weed-killing weapon of choice for farmers across the country.
The new formulation is intended to work hand-in-hand with a new generation of corn and soybean seeds that are genetically engineered to tolerate sprays of both herbicides.
Food industry focuses on sustainable sourcing to mitigate climate change
November 20, 2015 06:59 AM - Sarantis Michalopoulos, EurActiv
Faced with a raw materials scarcity due to climate change, food and drink giants have turned to a sustainable management in order to protect the environment and ensure their future viability. The global population is expected to rise from 7.3 billion today to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to UN projections. As a consequence, according to a survey published in July by FoodDrinkEurope, this will require a 60% increase in food supplies globally, as well as a 30% rise in global demand for water for agriculture.
The massive Indonesian fires
November 7, 2015 07:25 AM - lisa palmer, Yale Environment360
The fires that blazed in Indonesia’s rainforests in 1982 and 1983 came as a shock. The logging industry had embarked on a decades-long pillaging of the country’s woodlands, opening up the canopy and drying out the carbon-rich peat soils. Preceded by an unusually long El Niño-related dry season, the forest fires lasted for months, sending vast clouds of smoke across Southeast Asia.
Fifteen years later, in 1997 and 1998, a record El Niño year coincided with continued massive land-use changes in Indonesia, including the wholesale draining of peatlands to plant oil palm and wood pulp plantations. Large areas of Borneo and Sumatra burned, and again Southeast Asians choked on Indonesian smoke.
Rat poisons endanger California wildlife
November 5, 2015 08:13 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
Researchers at the University of California released a study today indicating that rat poisons increasingly pose a significant risk for California’s imperiled Pacific fishers, small, forest-dwelling mammals that are protected under the California Endangered Species Act. The study shows that increasing numbers of fishers are being exposed to, and dying from, greater varieties of rat poisons, or rodenticides, found at illegal marijuana farms. It also affirms reports and data from across the state that rodenticides continue to poison and kill numerous California wildlife species.
“These poisons are silently killing our country’s most majestic wildlife by indiscriminately causing animals to literally bleed to death from the inside out,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s time to ban these poisons from the market to protect fishers, bald eagles, great horned owls and kit foxes from a painful, gruesome fate.”
Historic Nitrate Levels Still Plague U.S. Rivers
October 29, 2015 06:16 AM - USGS Newsroom
During 1945 to 1980, nitrate levels in large U.S. rivers increased up to fivefold in intensively managed agricultural areas of the Midwest, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. In recent decades, nitrate changes have been smaller and levels have remained high in most of the rivers studied.
Arsenic found in many US red wines
October 7, 2015 09:11 AM - Jennifer Langston, University of Washington
A new University of Washington study that tested 65 wines from America’s top four wine-producing states — California, Washington, New York and Oregon — found all but one have arsenic levels that exceed what’s allowed in drinking water.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows drinking water to contain no more than 10 parts per billion of arsenic. The wine samples ranged from 10 to 76 parts per billion, with an average of 24 parts per billion.
Sierra Nevada snowpack at historic low
October 3, 2015 06:52 AM - Mike Gaworecki , MONGABAY.COM
On April 1, California Governor Jerry Brown stood in a Sierra Nevada meadow atop parched, brown grass — at an elevation of 6,800 feet, where there would normally be five feet of snow at that time of year — and announced the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions.
The Golden State is still in the grip of a severe drought that began in 2012, and new research suggests it is one of the worst in centuries.
The day Gov. Brown announced the statewide water restrictions, snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas was reported to be at just 5 percent of its historical average, as calculated from records dating back to the 1930s.
Insect protein and our food
September 27, 2015 07:00 AM - Laurie Balbo, Green Prophet
A start-up business focused on finding new ways of using insect protein in food products is a finalist in this year’s MassChallenge, the Boston-based start-up competition and world’s largest accelerator program. Get over your squeamishness, because bug-based foods will soon infest our markets.
The “elevator pitch” for Israel-based The Flying Spark states their intent to manufacture protein powder based on insect larvae that can be added to a wide range of food products, replacing today’s protein powders – commonly made from whey, soy, or casein. Insects contain extremely high protein, fiber, micro-nutrients and mineral content. They’re also naturally low in fat, and cholesterol-free. The tipping point for this product’s potential is that insect protein will cost less to produce than any other source of animal protein.