03 August 2012
“The truth is that, at least for now, there is ample food for everyone to eat adequately. Annual food waste at consumer level in industrialised countries (222 million tons) is almost as high as total net food production in Africa (230 million tons). To close the gap between what 1 billion hungry people are eating now and what they need to consume to climb above the hunger threshold would require the equivalent of only 25 to 30 million tons of grains now being produced. Even if the amount needed was to be doubled, even tripled, and its food content diversified, it would still be insignificant in global terms. It is not a big deal!”
Andrew MacMillan and Ignacio Trueba, ‘How to end hunger in times of crisis’ - August 2012
Women’s risk of reproductive disease linked to environmental estrogens
Research investigating the links between uterine and ovarian diseases and hormone mimicking chemicals have had mixed results. Now, several new studies are adding to the evidence that estrogen-mimicking pesticides and industrial chemicals may increase women’s risk of uterine and ovarian diseases – helping to solidify a theory that emerged two decades ago.
Scientific American (31 July)
UK government launches pesticide action plan
Defra yesterday released its draft plan for pesticide regulation in the UK. The ‘UK National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides’ opened for consultation this week; the plan is designed to ensure the UK adheres to EU legislation on pesticides and comes at an acutely controversial time for the pesticide industry.
Farming Online (2 Aug)
Danish diffuse pollution law sparks fierce reaction
In the latest spat over pesticide use in the EU, farmers in Denmark have protested against a new law aimed at reducing diffuse pollution. The new law, which prohibits the use of fertilisers within 10m of rivers and lakes has triggered a furious reaction from the Danish farming community. The Marginal Zone Law will removed and estimated 50,000 hectares of Danish farmland from production, but could reduce water pollution levels by an estimated 9,000 tonnes per year.
Farming Online (2 Aug)
Drought-stricken farmers pay the price for failed climate bill
Donald Carr writes that climate change affects agriculture more directly and profoundly than most other economic sectors. The Washington Post's Brad Plumer has pointed out that while it's hard to pinpoint climate change by itself as the cause of any particular drought, it's certainly a big factor in how severe it gets. Meanwhile the danger from climate change-fueled droughts will only increase as America dithers about and polluting special interests continually block solutions.
Huffington Post (2 Aug)
Drought worsens in Midwest and threatens next year’s corn crop
The worst drought in 50 years has intensified across the US midwest, not only condemning this year's corn crop but threatening the prospects for next year's too, new figures showed on Thursday. The political fallout intensified as well, with growing pressure for the Obama administration to end its support for corn ethanol. Critics say diverting food to fuel for corn ethanol production risks a global food crisis, tightening supplies and driving up prices.
The Guardian (2 Aug)
Burmese opium farmers need support to find alternative livelihood
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime says the international community must help poppy-growers seek a different income or the number of farmers growing the illicit crop will continue to rise. According to the annual opium survey, poppies can bring in nine to 15 times more money per hectare than rice. Crops such as maize, tea and rice are more labour intensive than poppies, and require expensive inputs, such as fertilisers, to cultivate and transport to markets.
The Guardian (2 Aug)
North Korea in immediate need of food aid after floods, says UN
North Korea needs immediate food assistance after heavy rains killed scores of people and submerged vast swaths of farmland, according to a United Nations report. That assessment was released by the UN resident coordinator's office in Pyongyang following visits to flood-stricken areas in North Korea earlier this week.
The Guardian (3 Aug)
Russia wants to buy quarter of a million beef cattle to boost its stocks. A British delegation visiting later this month is hoping to pave the way to lifting the export ban on British beef. Arable farmers say the June downpours could have cost them 1000s of pounds. A fungus has taken hold on some wheat, severely damaging the quality of the crop. And as the Government announces incentives for power stations to burn 100% energy crops, like wood and willow instead of fossil fuels, environmentalists express concern that the 'green' credentials of the fuel will be wiped out as companies have to import biomass from around the world.
BBC Radio 4, listen again (3 Aug)
And finally…Tips for an eco-friendly weekend
The Green Familia blog offers its top tips for eco and family-friendly days out. One suggestion is to learn a new skill or hone an old one at one of the Soil Association’s Organic Farm School courses.
Green Familia (2 Aug)
Find out more about the Soil Association’s Organic Farm School.