• Pesticide risks need more research and regulation

    Developing countries need stronger pesticide regulation and a better understanding of how pesticides behave in tropical climates, according to experts behind a series of articles published in Science today. They also need an international body to carry out regular pesticide safety assessments — ensuring they are used properly by farmers who are given thorough training in their use — and to monitor the safety of chemical levels in food, the experts say. >> Read the Full Article
  • Farmers Increasing Resilience to Climate Change by Diversifying Crops

    The loss of arable land due to climate change may amount to as much as 21 percent in South America, 18 percent in Africa, and 11 to 17 percent in Europe, according to scientists at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The potential of climate change to adversely impact food security in these regions is staggering. >> Read the Full Article
  • Non-food crops lock up enough calories to feed 4 billion

    Global calorie availability could be increased by as much as 70 per cent — feeding an additional 4 billion people — by shifting cropland use to produce food for humans rather than livestock feed and biofuels, according to new research. >> Read the Full Article
  • Eating More Fruits and Vegetables: An $11 Trillion Stimulus?

    Reading through a recently released Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report at first reveals the obvious: eating more fruits and vegetables is healthier for you. But the report, The $11 Trillion Dollar Reward, goes further in placing a dollar value on the benefits of a healthier society. The UCS study suggests a revamp of our nation's agriculture policy is in order to get more local fruits and vegetables on the table and less reaching out of a car window to grab another bagged fast food meal. >> Read the Full Article
  • GM rice delivers antibodies against deadly rotavirus

    A strain of rice genetically engineered to protect against diarrhoeal disease could offer a cost-effective way to protect children in developing countries, according a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Controversy Surrounding Fracking

    The father of fracking, George Mitchell, passed away July 26, leaving many to think about the legacy he leaves behind. Though he didn't exactly invent fracking, the Houston native revolutionized the process by introducing horizontal drilling in the 1990s. Even more than two decades later, Mitchell's process of fracking is still a touchy subject. Though many are thrilled by the natural gas goldmine his drilling taps into, a lot of controversy surrounds the process, especially where the environment is concerned. What is fracking? For millions of years, organisms found in rock formations buried deep under the ground have decomposed, creating natural gases. However, because the formations are so deep under Earth's surface, the gas deposits were trapped in pockets and not easily accessible. It didn't take long to discover that drilling into rock formations could break them, making it easy to extract the resources inside... >> Read the Full Article
  • New York City Turns to Composting

    In 2011, the United States produced 250 million tons of municipal solid waste, 56% of which was compostable materials. In New York City alone, more than 10,000 tons of trash is collected every day and shipped to landfills where organic materials decompose. Methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, is produced as a result of the decomposition. Behind industry and agriculture, landfills are the third-largest source of methane in the United States. New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg recognized this major environmental concern in his State of the City address, and called for food waste recycling, the city’s “final recycling frontier". Of course New York City isn’t the first to come up with such an ambitious plan. Cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, San Antonio, and Portland, Oregon have been composting as early as 2009. Today, San Francisco mandates that all residents separate organic material, adding a third bin to trash and recycling. The compost bins can include all food scraps, along with vegetation and solid paper products such as coffee cups and milk cartons. Overall, 78% of San Francisco’s waste is now diverted from landfills. >> Read the Full Article
  • Deforestation ban working in Costa Rica

    Costa Rica's ban on clearing of "mature" forests appears to be effective in encouraging agricultural expansion on non-forest lands, finds a study published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The research, which was led by Matthew Fagan of Columbia University, is based on analysis of satellite data calibrated with visits to field sites in the lowlands of northern Costa Rica. >> Read the Full Article
  • Rice gene digs deep to triple yields in drought

    A gene that gives rice plants deeper roots can triple yields during droughts, according to Japanese researchers writing in Nature Genetics this week (4 August). Rice is a staple food for nearly half of the world's population, but is also particularly susceptible to drought owing to its shallow roots, researchers say. The new study shows that by pointing roots down instead of sideways, the Deeper Rooting 1 (DRO1) gene results in roots that are nearly twice as deep as those of standard rice varieties. >> Read the Full Article
  • What does the future hold for GM cotton?

    Two decades into cotton's genetic modification (GM) revolution, J. Berrye Worsham, President and CEO of the U.S. industry association Cotton Incorporated, exudes complete confidence in the GM route. "Employing biotechnology to its fullest extent, now and far into the future," he says, "we anticipate dramatically increasing our yields of cotton fiber and using cottonseed as a food source for humans. We fully expect that this expanded use of the cotton plant will require less water and soil, greatly reducing strain on the environment." >> Read the Full Article