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Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

After 4 Years, Checking Up on The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

February 29, 2012 Comments off

theatlantic.com

For its birthday, Svalbard will receive seeds from war-torn Syria and celebrate years of success preserving our inheritance from Neolithic times.

svalbardtop_615.jpg

The world’s agricultural hard drive, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, turns four years old today. The vault was a media sensation when it first opened in 2008, but it hasn’t been in the news much since. I figured it was time to check in and see how these first four years have gone. An awesome technology by any measure, the vault is a steely compound tunneled five hundred feet into an icy mountain in the Norwegian Arctic, just 600 miles from the North Pole. It is designed to last a thousand years, and to withstand a wide range of global disasters, including climate change, nuclear war, and even an asteroid strike. Over the past four years the vault has amassed some 740,000 seed samples and eventually it may house every crop seed ever used by a human being.

The vault stores duplicates of the holdings of local seed banks all over the world, insuring against seed loss in the event of a local or global catastrophe. It functions like Read more…

Bio-fuels, Speculation, Land Grabs = Food Crisis

January 19, 2012 1 comment

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Drought and wildfire threaten America’s cattle capital

July 21, 2011 1 comment

csmonitor

* A mother and her calf idle in dead grassland on the Swenson Ranch outside Stamford, Texas, in this photo from May 21. Severe drought and millions of acres of wildfires have delivered a potent one-two punch this year, forcing tough decisions on ranchers across cattle country. Elliott Blackburn / Reuters /. File

Chicago-As if the heartland hasn’t faced enough this summer, with wildfires, droughts, and punishing heat, cattle ranchers are now facing a hay shortage.

The triple-digit temperatures, expected to result in the worst drought north-central Texas has ever experienced, follows spring wildfires, which scorched millions of acres that traditionally nourish the nation’s largest steer population – five million head of cattle.

Most Texas pasture and range lands – 86 percent – are currently “poor” or “very poor,” according to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The same rating applied to 69 percent of Oklahoma and 40 percent of Kansas.

The hardships this year “don’t compare to any in recent years,” says Jason Miller, a county agriculture agent for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service (TALES). “The ranchers are just holding on.”

July temperatures have topped 110 degrees in the heart of cattle country, from Texas to Kansas. Ranchers complain that Read more…

Biotech farm to milk mutant transgendered offspring of GM goats

July 17, 2011 Comments off

naturalnews

The insatiable lust among genetic engineers to tamper with the natural order has reached new freak-show proportions. Genetic butchers from AgResearch, which NaturalNews recently reported had reluctantly abandoned a 13-year animal cloning operation due to an overwhelming number of animal deformities and deaths (http://www.naturalnews.com/031573_c…), are once again in the news, this time for their plans to milk the transgendered offspring of genetically-engineered (GE) goats.

In a truly disgusting display of “science” gone wild, AgResearch scientists have been intentionally breeding GE goats, most of which are now producing transgendered babies that are essentially females in sterile male bodies. And just like the animals in the company’s previous cloning project, the GE goats’ offspring are Read more…

Hike in worldwide food prices forces change in diet as more go hungry

June 15, 2011 Comments off

vancouversun

Costs rise 37 per cent in past year; more women, girls negatively impacted

Soaring food prices over the past year have prompted 17 per cent of Canadians to change their diets due to the higher cost of food. But Canadians haven't yet felt the full impact of raw food price increases, in part because of our strong dollar.

Soaring food prices over the past year have prompted 17 per cent of Canadians to change their diets due to the higher cost of food. But Canadians haven’t yet felt the full impact of raw food price increases, in part because of our strong dollar.

Photograph by: Noah Seelam, AFP, Getty Images, Postmedia News

Soaring food prices and health concerns are prompting people around the world to change what they eat, according to a new 17-nation survey done for Oxfam. And Canadians aren’t exempt from the trend.

Of the 16,421 people surveyed by GlobeScan, 53 per cent said say they’re no longer eating the same foods they did two years ago. Nearly four in 10 of those say some of the food they used to eat is now too expensive, while one-third changed their diets for health reasons.

“The rising cost of food is pushing more Read more…

The Water Crisis in African Cities

June 10, 2011 Comments off

allafrica

Access to running water remains in a state of crisis for a huge number of people across Africa, writes Michel Makpenon. With growing urbanisation across the continent, African cities will need the political determination to ensure sustainable water resources based on social need rather than commercial concerns, he stresses.

The water issue is a major problem for people in sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, the water situation in sub-Saharan Africa remains characterised by the difficult access to this resource, the poor supply management of watering places and the high costs of water network connections. For instance, in Benin one household in three doesn’t have access to drinking water, and the problem is much more acute in rural areas.

Households having access to drinking water are considered as households who have drinking water at home or within 200 metres from home: running water from the company’s distribution network, fountain water, water from the village pump, water tank and water from protected wells.

Various consultations led with the populations have indeed confirmed that the water issue is a major problem for them. The concerns, as raised by the populations, focus on the difficult access to water and the poor management of the watering places, the difficulties to call for the financial participation of the population for the creation and the management of watering places and the borehole characteristics which are Read more…

North America, southern Europe and China all likely to undergo extreme temperature shifts within 60 years

June 8, 2011 Comments off

dailymail

Tropical regions in Africa, Asia and South America could see ‘the permanent emergence of unprecedented summer heat’ in the next 20 years, scientists have warned.

The tropics and much of the Red dunes in Namibia. Much of Africa, Asia and South America could see 'the permanent emergence of unprecedented summer heat' in the next 20 yearsNorthern Hemisphere are likely to experience an irreversible rise in summer temperatures if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their present rate, a study claims.

Researchers at Stanford University said North America – including the U.S. – southern Europe and China are likely to undergo extreme summer temperature shifts within 60 years.

Red dunes in Namibia. Much of Africa, Asia and South America could see ‘the permanent emergence of unprecedented summer heat’ in the next 20 years

This dramatic change could have severe consequences for human health, agricultural production and Read more…

European drought raises fears of food riots

June 2, 2011 Comments off

theaustralian

european droughts

The cracked river-bed near the village of Ancenis, in western France, where severe water restrictions have been impressed. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

BERNARD Maquis’s cattle would normally be grazing in the lush green pastures of the Limousin region, in central France, at this time of year.

Instead, they are eating hay intended for the winter after months of drought have turned the fields yellow.

He is wondering whether it might be better to sell his cows at a reduced price rather than find himself without fodder by the end of the autumn. “I’m starting to sleep badly,” he said.

Mr Maquis is not alone. With northern Europe facing its worst drought since 1976, politicians in the West are expecting protests Read more…

Drought worsens fears of inflation

May 31, 2011 Comments off

peopledaily.com

A rare drought that has wreaked havoc in central and southern China is expected to send grain prices soaring as experts predict the worst disaster of its kind in 50 years could offset the government’s efforts to curb inflation and threaten its annual CPI target of 4 percent.

Five provinces in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River – Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu, a major grain-producing region – have suffered the most serious drought in decades.

The drought had affected 34.8 million people, over one million livestock, and 3.7 million hectares of farmland as of Friday, causing direct economic losses of 14.9 billion yuan ($2.3 billion), the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

As farmers struggled to find new water sources for their crops, many fishing boats found themselves grounded as the river and lakes shrank, and residents in the region found the prices of vegetables, rice and aquatic products rising.

“Prices of some fruit and vegetables have increased to 6 yuan per kilogram on Tuesday from 3.6 yuan last week,” Jin Zhengsheng, 50, a resident of Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times.

Huang Xianyin, 41, a villager from Xinjian county, Jiangxi Province, also noticed the hikes.

“It’s not only vegetables. Read more…

Antibiotics In Animal Feed Encourage Emergence Of Superbugs – FDA Sued By Health And Consumer Organizations

May 26, 2011 3 comments

medicalnewstoday
If the FDA concluded in 1977 that adding low-dose antibiotics used in human medicine to animal feed raised the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, why has it still done nothing about it? A suit filed by some health and consumer organizations says the FDA has not met its legal responsibility to protect public health – the practice of routinely adding low-dose antibiotics to animal feed has to stop, and the FDA has the authority to make it so.

Peter Lehner, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) executive director, said:

“More than a generation has passed since FDA first recognized the potential human health consequences of feeding large quantities of antibiotics to healthy animals.

Accumulating evidence shows that antibiotics are becoming less effective, while our grocery store meat is increasingly laden with drug-resistant bacteria. The FDA needs to put the American people first by ensuring that antibiotics continue to serve their primary purpose – saving human lives by combating disease.”

70% of all US antibiotic consumption is used up in adding low-doses to animal feed to make up for unsanitary living conditions and promote faster growth, according to NRDC. This practice has been steadily growing over the last six decades, despite the every-growing threat to humans of superbugs.

The antibiotic doses used in feed or water for turkeys, cows, pigs and chickens are too low to treat diseases – however, they are low enough for a significant number of bacteria to survive and build Read more…

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