• The Many Benefits of Hummus

    Once only found in Middle Eastern restaurants or ethnic food stores, hummus has become a surging business for food companies here in the U.S. and abroad. The chickpea (garbanzo) bean spread is no longer a secret and limited only to those who were fortunate enough to have a Lebanese restaurant in the neighborhood. Hummus has now gone corporate, with brands such as Tribe and Sabra (a Strauss Group and PepsiCo partnership) enjoying popularity and impressive sales: $325 million at last count in 2010. >> Read the Full Article
  • Scientists Fear the Extinction of Arabica Coffee

    Scientists in the United Kingdom recently completed a study suggesting that Arabica coffee, the species that makes up 75 percent of coffee beans sold, could become extinct in 70 years. Due to climate change and its symptoms including deforestation, a team at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens ran a series of computer simulations that indicate that wild Arabica coffee could become extinct by 2080. Such a development should worry everyone from growers to consumers. Coffee is the second most traded global commodity after petroleum and is an economic lifeline for many countries in Africa and Latin America. >> Read the Full Article
  • Planting Forests for Carbon Sequestration

    Imagine a forest landscape where every tree is aligned and equally spaced apart. A forest where there are no sounds, no undergrowth and a distinct lack of species. Could this be the fate of our environment as carbon forestry becomes a common way to offset greenhouse gas emissions? Or, could it supplement reforestation programs and slowly ease the biodiversity crisis? Post-Kyoto there has been strong support for global emissions to be 'capped'. Key nations, including Australia, Norway and Japan, have already started to place a price on carbon, with internal stakeholders now having a legal obligation to pay for the greenhouse gasses they emit. One strategy that has been adopted by these 'compliance' markets – as well as many 'voluntary' markets – includes the purchasing of carbon credits that are linked with the forestry sector. >> Read the Full Article
  • Scientists research plant-based insect repellent

    What do the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense have in common? Besides being government departments, both want to improve technologies for killing pathogen-transmitting insects. Mosquitoes, sand flies, ticks, and other biting bugs can cause some of the most devastating diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever. These arthropods pose a particular problem not only for native populations, but also for military troops that are located where these illnesses are endemic. >> Read the Full Article
  • Shocking Number of Squatters Found in Sumatran National Park

    Sumatra's Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park—home to the Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinos, tigers, and elephants—has become overrun with coffee farmers, loggers, and opportunists according to a new paper in Conservation and Society. An issue facing the park for decades, the study attempted for the first time to determine the number of squatters either living in or farming off Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the rough census—over 100,000 people—shocked scientists. "In some parts of the Park the squatters are so numerous that the area looks more like a Javanese countryside," lead author Patrice Levang with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) told mongabay.com. >> Read the Full Article
  • How Will the World Feed Itself in the Future?

    The world's food security depends on the quality of the forward-looking agricultural studies we are carrying out today, says Mark Holderness. Climate change, population growth and competing demands for land and resources are putting great pressure on the world's food systems. Smallholder farmers in the developing world, who produce much of the food for the poorest people, are threatened by devastating droughts and floods, food price spikes, and persistent poverty. Scientific advances have greatly alleviated hunger and poverty. The introduction of higher yield crop varieties and better agricultural management practices have saved and improved millions of lives. >> Read the Full Article
  • "Fertilizer to Fork" Approach Contributes to Climate Change

    Growing, transporting, refrigerating, and wasting food accounts for somewhere between 19-29 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions in 2008, according to a new analysis by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). In hard numbers that's between 9.8 and 16.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, more than double the fossil fuel emissions of China in the same year. Over 80 percent of food emissions came from production (i.e. agriculture) which includes deforestation and land use change. >> Read the Full Article
  • Researchers Emphasize the Need to Monitor Rivers for Triclosan

    Ever heard of triclosan? As an antibacterial and antifungal agent, it is used in everything from toothpaste, to soaps, socks and trash bags. While the US Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the European Union all regulate triclosan, the chemical is not monitored and often gets absorbed into sewage sludge after wastewater treatment. Researchers from Germany and Slovakia are claiming that triclosan is harmful to the ecology of rivers and are calling for further monitoring of the chemical. After monitoring the Elbe river basin, concentrations of the chemical at various test sites were found to exceed the predicted no-effect concentration for algal communities. From the 500 river basin-specific pollutants investigated, triclosan ranked sixth as one of the most particularly harmful substances in Europe. >> Read the Full Article
  • 'Aquaponics' Help Islanders Cultivate Crops and Raise Fish

    A pilot aquaponics experiment is now underway in the Cook Islands that has the potential to become the South Pacific region's best chance for preventing food shortages. First announced during the Pacific Islands Forum earlier this year (27–31 August), the pilot project combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals like fish in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in symbiosis, a strategy that can be replicated in other island nations. The project's long-term objective is to give Pacific islanders — who are facing climate-related issues such as drought and fish poisoning — a way to sustainably grow crops using minimal water and no pesticides. >> Read the Full Article
  • Rice and Global Warming

    Rice is the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake in the world, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by the human species. Without rice and the world will be a much different place. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, coupled with rising temperatures, is making rice agriculture a larger source of the potent greenhouse gas methane, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change by a research team that includes a University of California, Davis, plant scientist. The authors note that relatively simple changes in rice cultivation could help reduce methane emissions. >> Read the Full Article