tagged w/ Agriculture
The Ohio and Mississippi River levels were falling Wednesday at the site where engineers blasted holes in a Missouri levee to relieve pressure. But unleashing torrents of water across 35 miles of farmland in what has already been a terrible flooding season could carry other consequences.
One risk, scientists cautioned, is fertilizer runoff from the flooded farm country along the Mississippi. As it moves downstream, they predicted it would contribute to the largest-ever summertime depletion of oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico, posing a substantial risk to marine life.
The concern is that the water is likely pulling up components of fertilizers—notably nitrogen and phosphorus—and washing them downstream toward the Gulf, helping slash oxygen to levels marine life can't survive, said Nancy Rabalais, a marine scientist who is executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium on the Gulf coast.
Those chemicals act as nutrients in the Gulf, intensifying the growth of microscopic plants. Microbes eat away at those plants. In the process, they consume oxygen, reducing it to levels that kill marine life.
In the days leading up to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' breach of the levee near Birds Point, Mo., authorities began removing fuel and other chemicals stored in tanks in a 35-mile long floodway bordering the Mississippi River, said Karl Brooks, administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency region that includes much of the Midwest.
In addition to the effects in the Gulf, another concern has begun to emerge: drinking water. Much of the Midwest gets its water from rivers, and scientists say they'll be monitoring to see whether the floodwaters show elevated levels of nitrate, a derivative of nitrogen in fertilizers. Nitrate can cause sickness, particularly in infants, the EPA says.
Water-treatment plants filter out nitrate to government limits. But "the faster the water moves across the land, the more sediment it picks up, and the more nitrate and other pollutants," said John Downing, a professor at Iowa State University specializing in inland-water issues.
James Kopp, chemistry manager for the water division in St. Louis, said nitrate levels of water filtered in the city don't appear to be any higher than in a normal May—a month when nitrate levels are typically elevated because of spring runoff.
Not far from the breached levee, some 3,800 Western Kentucky residents have evacuated their homes as the Mississippi River and its tributaries continue to rise.
Kentucky, along with Tennessee, Mississippi, and other Southern states have been urging evacuations and bracing for what state officials say could be near-record crests of the Mississippi River in the coming days after the intentional breach of a flood wall upstream in Missouri.
Heavy rains on Monday and Tuesday brought as much as four-and-a-half inches of rain to Kentucky and have contributed to flooding that has already hit low-lying parts of the state; in addition, authorities expect the Ohio River to crest on Thursday, and the Mississippi River to do so on Friday.
The levee breach sent water rushing across the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway, and water levels Tuesday dropped as much as three feet from expected levels on the Ohio River at Cairo, Ill. The Corps blew a second hole Tuesday and was preparing Wednesday to blow a third, to let the water drain back into the river.
Springtime flooding is natural along the Mississippi, as melting snow and ice and seasonal rains swell the river. But in recent years some floods have gotten more severe, and their ecological effects heightened.
Officials probably won't have a sense of how the flood affected the area until the weekend, when they expect rushing water will have slowed enough so they can enter the area and begin environmental testing, said the EPA's Mr. Brooks. "Until we see what the landscape looks like, it's going to be hard to know how extensive that is," he said.
This week's flooding comes one year after the country's largest-ever offshore oil spill sent 4.1 million barrels of crude into the Gulf ecosystem.
For decades, summertime oxygen levels in a large swath of the Gulf spreading out from the mouth of the Mississippi have plummeted to levels that have killed fish, shrimp crabs and other marine life. The oxygen depleted areas, known as dead zones, began to appear in the early 1970s, also the time when chemical-fertilizer use was intensifying on Midwest farms, said Ms. Rabalais, a dead-zone expert.
Even before the latest flooding, high water levels along the Mississippi earlier this year were creating signs of an earlier—and larger—than normal dead zone in the Gulf, she said. Now, she said, scientists are predicting a Gulf dead zone this year far larger than the prior record—an 8,500-square-mile dead zone in 2002.
cont,The Ohio and Mississippi River levels were falling Wednesday at the site where... more
Tractors, farm equipment, built at around one eighth the cost. Industrial equipment too. Superior design. Handmade quality. Problem? Investment. Solve it, and Jakubowski becomes a household word. That might just happen anywayTractors, farm equipment, built at around one eighth the cost. Industrial equipment... more
Pregnant women exposed to certain widely used pesticides may give birth to children with lower intelligence, according to a new study.Researchers found that exposure during pregnancy to pesticides called organophosphates – used on food crops – may impair child cognitive development.
link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8463533/Pesticide-link-to-lower-IQ.htmlPregnant women exposed to certain widely used pesticides may give birth to children... more
A quick premise for the people that do not know who Monsanto is and what is high fructose corn syrup:
Monsanto is the leading producer of biochemical products and the world's largest seed company. It has monopolized agriculture and our food with its genetically engineered corn, soy and cotton.
From this GM corn, a substance is made: High fructose corn syrup; it's found as an ingredient in almost every conventional food. It's used as a sweetener, flavor enhancer, preservative and is cheap.
More and more studies are showing the dangerous effects of this substance that not only feeds humans but is used to feed livestock, pigs, chickens, fishes and even our precious bees!
This genetically engineered food has been deteriorating people's health for over 40 years since its introduction to our agriculture.
It was engineered to work in conjunction with the herbicide "Roundup" which contaminates water, soil and kills all plants and animals.
Ironically, this industry is heavily subsidized by the government; our tax money are put to work against us and to enrich corporations like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, Bayer etc.
You can learn more about who owns nature here (excellent publication):
Said this, since 2006, billions of bee colonies have died for no apparent reason. This phenomenon has affected the world's food production, and has been titled "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD). As you might know already, bees are responsible for 1/3 of the world's food production, and it is one of the world's most important natural assets.
We think of the CCD for the bees as the cancer for humans.
We believe that one of the main causes of the massive dying off of bees is high fructose corn syrup. Learn more about the importance of bees:
Other causes are pesticides, antibiotics, parasites, pathogens, livestock-like practices (bigger hive cell sizes, migratory stress, antibiotics, various chemicals used), drought, etc.
Also, as a result of this diet, the honey that gets produced is essentially high fructose corn syrup and honey mixed together; there isn't such a thing as "pure" or "natural" honey.
Now, why would beekeepers feed this poison to bees? Simply and tragically because it is a money saving solution, the quick fix mentality and the adoption of short sighted solutions.
Who's behind all of this?
The corporations that control corn, soy, cotton, also control nature, control our economy and society just like the fossil fuel industry does. Corporatism is killing nature and people, represents our current economy and laws, and is the new Nazism or form of imperialism.
What's the solution?
A healthy environment and organic beekeeping are the answer to this problem, learn more here: http://www.bee-hexagon.net/files/file/fileE/Organic/ProgramAbstracts.pdf
This can only be achieved if we steer away from a chemical based agriculture and embrace an organic agriculture where principles of permaculture, sustainability and biodiversity are implemented.
You can start by supporting the organic market, you can call your congress representatives and pressure them to subsidize organic agriculture and abandon our current system: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml.
More than that, you can sign the petition that can stop this all:
Save our planet, all of us and our dear bees now!
More info on the CCD: http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572
A study on the HFCS and bees:
Photo by bcJordan:http://www.flickr.com/photos/28568408@N03/2667935792/
P.S.: If you are an artist and would like to donate/volunteer your artwork to us, you can submit it to: http://organiclegion.org/artthatmovestheworld.htm.
We are looking right now for a drawing or picture showing/suggesting Hitler/Nazism and GMO Corn. Thank you.
Join the Organic Movement:
http://current.com/groups/organicgreen/A quick premise for the people that do not know who Monsanto is and what is high... more
High levels of pesticide exposure in pregnant women have been linked to lower IQs in their children, according to three separate US studies.
Two studies were done in New York City and a third was in Salinas, a farming area of northern California. All spanned nearly a decade, tracking levels of pesticide in expectant mothers and testing nearly 1,000 children up to age nine.
Researchers looked at exposure to a family of pesticides known as organophosphates, which are commonly used on fruit and vegetable crops. The reports are published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
In the California study involving 392 kids, "researchers found that every tenfold increase in measures of organophosphates detected during a mother's pregnancy corresponded to a 5.5 drop in overall IQ in the seven-year-olds."
The differences held even after researchers accounted for factors such as education, family income, and exposure to other environmental contaminants, the study, released on Thursday, said.
Researchers at Mount Sinai, New York measured 400 women and their children from 1998 onward.
They found that "exposure to organophosphates negatively impacted perceptual reasoning, a measure of non-verbal problem-solving skills" between the ages of six and nine.
They also found that about one-third of the mothers studied carried a gene variant that made them less able to metabolize the pesticides, and that the negative effects in children were limited to this subgroup.
The third study, done by researchers at New York's Columbia University, looked specifically at one pesticide, chlorpyrifos, which was widely used to kill cockroaches and termites until it was banned from residential use in 2001.
In the sample of 265 minority children born before the ban took effect, higher prenatal exposure was linked to lower intelligence scores and poorer memory.
Children in the top 25 percent of exposure levels scored 5.5 percent lower in working memory tests and 2.7 points lower in IQ.
"These observed deficits in cognitive functioning at seven years of age could have implications for school performance," said lead author Virginia Rauh of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health.
"Working memory problems may interfere with reading comprehension, learning and academic achievement, even if general intelligence remains in the normal range."
Even though the studies were carried out independent of each other, the similarity in results raises concern, said lead author of the California study, Maryse Bouchard.
"It is very unusual to see this much consistency across populations in studies, so that speaks to the significance of the findings," she said.
cont.High levels of pesticide exposure in pregnant women have been linked to lower IQs in... more
Coast hydroponics provides nature-safe, organic spray oil effective on a wide variety of insects, mites, armored and soft scales and certain fungal diseases. This product is perfect for vegetables, fruits, herbs greenhouse crops, vine crops and landscape plants. http://www.coasthydroponics.com/p/510/63.htmlCoast hydroponics provides nature-safe, organic spray oil effective on a wide variety... more
The wall of water raced through narrow Himalayan gorges in northeast India, gathering speed as it raked the banks of towering trees and boulders. When the torrent struck their island in the Brahmaputra river, the villagers remember, it took only moments to obliterate their houses, possessions and livestock.
No one knows exactly how the disaster happened, but everyone knows whom to blame: neighboring China.
"We don't trust the Chinese," says fisherman Akshay Sarkar at the resettlement site where he has lived since the 2000 flood. "They gave us no warning. They may do it again."
About 500 miles east, in northern Thailand, Chamlong Saengphet stands in the Mekong river, in water that comes only up to her shins. She is collecting edible river weeds from dwindling beds. A neighbor has hung up his fishing nets, his catches now too meager.
Using words bordering on curses, they point upstream, toward China.
The blame game, voiced in vulnerable river towns and Asian capitals from Pakistan to Vietnam, is rooted in fear that China's accelerating program of damming every major river flowing from the Tibetan plateau will trigger natural disasters, degrade fragile ecologies, divert vital water supplies.
A few analysts and environmental advocates even speak of water as a future trigger for war or diplomatic strong-arming, though others strongly doubt it will come to that. Still, the remapping of the water flow in the world's most heavily populated and thirstiest region is happening on a gigantic scale, with potentially strategic implications.
On the eight great Tibetan rivers alone, almost 20 dams have been built or are under construction while some 40 more are planned or proposed.
China is hardly alone in disrupting the region's water flows. Others are doing it with potentially even worse consequences. But China's vast thirst for power and water, its control over the sources of the rivers and its ever-growing political clout make it a singular target of criticism and suspicion.
"Whether China intends to use water as a political weapon or not, it is acquiring the capability to turn off the tap if it wants to — a leverage it can use to keep any riparian neighbors on good behavior," says Brahma Chellaney, an analyst at New Delhi's Center for Policy Research and author of the forthcoming "Water: Asia's New Battlefield."
Analyst Neil Padukone calls it "the biggest potential point of contention between the two Asian giants," China and India. But the stakes may be even higher since those eight Tibetan rivers serve a vast west-east arc of 1.8 billion people stretching from Pakistan to Vietnam's Mekong river delta.
Lack of transparency?
Suspicions are heightened by Beijing's lack of transparency and refusal to share most hydrological and other data. Only China, along with Turkey, has refused to sign a key 1997 U.N. convention on transnational rivers.
Beijing gave no notice when it began building three dams on the Mekong — the first completed in 1993 — or the $1.2 billion Zangmu dam, the first on the mainstream of the 1,790-mile Brahmaputra which was started last November and hailed in official media as "a landmark priority project."
The 2000 flood that hit Sarkar's village, is widely believed to have been caused by the burst of an earthen dam wall on a Brahmaputra tributary. But China has kept silent.
"Until today, the Indian government has no clue about what happened," says Ravindranath, who heads the Rural Volunteer Center. He uses only one name.
Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has also warned of looming dangers stemming from the Tibetan plateau.
"It's something very, very essential. So, since millions of Indians use water coming from the Himalayan glaciers... I think you (India) should express more serious concern. This is nothing to do with politics, just everybody's interests, including Chinese people," he said in New Delhi last month.
Beijing normally counters such censure by pointing out that the bulk of water from the Tibetan rivers springs from downstream tributaries, with only 13-16 percent originating in China.
Officials also say that the dams can benefit their neighbors, easing droughts and floods by regulating flow, and that hydroelectric power reduces China's carbon footprint.
China "will fully consider impacts to downstream countries," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu recently told The Associated Press. "We have clarified several times that the dam being built on the Brahmaputra River has a small storage capacity. It will not have large impact on water flow or the ecological environment of downstream."
For some of China's neighbors, the problem is that they too are building controversial dams and may look hypocritical if they criticize China too loudly.
The four-nation Mekong River Commission has expressed concerns not just about the Chinese dams but about a host of others built or planned in downstream countries.
In northeast India, a broad-based movement is fighting central government plans to erect more than 160 dams in the region, and Laos and Cambodia have proposed plans for 11 Mekong dams, sparking environmental protest.
cont.The wall of water raced through narrow Himalayan gorges in northeast India, gathering... more
The New York Times
Photo: Bill Hammitt on his farm near Portsmouth, Iowa, where he has terraced the land, refrained from tilling and taken other measures to curb soil erosion.
April 12, 2011
High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
When prices for corn and soybeans surged last fall, Bill Hammitt, a farmer in the fertile hill country of western Iowa, began to see the bulldozers come out, clearing steep hillsides of trees and pastureland to make way for more acres of the state’s staple crops. Now, as spring planting begins, with the chance of drenching rains, Mr. Hammitt worries that such steep ground is at high risk for soil erosion — a farmland scourge that feels as distant to most Americans as tales of the Dust Bowl and Woody Guthrie ballads.
Long in decline, erosion is once again rearing as a threat because of an aggressive push to plant on more land, changing weather patterns and inadequate enforcement of protections, scientists and environmentalists say.
“There’s a lot of land being converted into row crop in this area that never has been farmed before,” said Mr. Hammitt, 59, explaining that the bulldozed land was too steep and costly to farm to be profitable in years of ordinary prices. “It brings more highly erodible land into production because they’re out to make more money on every acre.”
Now, research by scientists at Iowa State University provides evidence that erosion in some parts of the state is occurring at levels far beyond government estimates. It is being exacerbated, they say, by severe storms, which have occurred more often in recent years, possibly because of broader climate shifts.
“The thing that’s really smacking us now are the high-intensity, high-volume rainstorms that we’re getting,” said Richard M. Cruse, an agronomy professor at Iowa State who directs the Iowa Daily Erosion Project. “In a variety of locations, we’re losing topsoil considerably faster — 10 to as much as 50 times faster — than it’s forming.”
Erosion can do major damage to water quality, silting streams and lakes and dumping fertilizers and pesticides into the water supply. Fertilizer runoff is responsible for a vast “dead zone,” an oxygen-depleted region where little or no sea life can exist, in the Gulf of Mexico. And because it washes away rich topsoil, erosion can threaten crop yields. Significant gains were made in combating erosion in the 1980s and early 1990s, as the federal government began to require that farmers receiving agricultural subsidies carry out individually tailored soil conservation plans.
Those plans often included measures such as terracing steep ground or sowing buffer strips with perennial grasses to stabilize areas prone to erosion, such as the edges of fields near streams or borders between crops.
Many farmers, such as Mr. Hammitt, who is on the board of the Harrison County soil and water conservation district, also do little or no plowing and leave crop residues on harvested fields, techniques that reduce runoff.
But environmentalists claim that enforcement of conservation plans by the United States Department of Agriculture is not as strict as it should be and that the gains in fighting erosion have stalled or are being undercut.
U.S.D.A. data shows that the amount of farmland erosion nationwide from water fell substantially from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, then largely stagnated.
Enforcement is needed more than ever, environmentalists say, because high crop prices provide a strong incentive for farmers to plant as much ground as possible and to take fewer protective measures like grass buffer strips.
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/04/13/business/erosion/erosion-articleLarge.jpgThe New York Times
Photo: Bill Hammitt on his farm near Portsmouth, Iowa, where he... more
An educational look at the stuff beneath our feet, the stuff that brings us food and air and water and life.An educational look at the stuff beneath our feet, the stuff that brings us food and... more
An educational look at the stuff beneath our feet, the stuff that brings us food and air and water and life and the dangers we are facing with less and less arable land for crops.An educational look at the stuff beneath our feet, the stuff that brings us food and... more
If you think Industrial Civilization is a good thing, think again. You've gone willingly into slavery and now there are no other options.If you think Industrial Civilization is a good thing, think again. You've gone... more
"In its desperate efforts to battle chronic water shortages, Jordan, one of the world's 10 driest countries, is mulling "unconventional" and "environmentally unfriendly" plans, experts say. The challenge is huge for this tiny country where desert covers 92 percent of the territory and the population of 6.3 million is growing.
Critics say the government's efforts to manage the country's limited water resources and generate new ones are being hindered by a strategy which at best is chaotic. Jordan is tapping into the ancient southern Disi aquifer, despite concerns about high levels of radiation, while studies are underway to build a controversial canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. "Unconventional projects, like Disi for example, are environmentally unfriendly," water expert Dureid Mahasneh, a former Jordan Valley Authority chief, told AFP. The 990-million-dollar project seeks to extract 100 million cubic metres (3.5 billion cubic feet) of water a year from the 300,000-year-old Disi aquifer, 325 kilometres (200 miles) south of Amman, officials say. The plan is to provide the capital Amman with water for 50 years, said water ministry official Bassam Saleh, who is in charge of the project that was launched in 2008 and is due to be completed in 2012.
A 2008 study by Duke University, in the United States, shows that Disi's water has 20times more radiation than is considered safe, with radium content that could trigger cancers. "Our research shows that the Disi aquifer is heavily contaminated with radium," according to the study done by the Durham, North Carolina team which tested 37 pumping wells in the aquifer. Mahasneh said "Disi water should not be touched." "How can you go for a non-renewable water resource that is contaminated with radiation and needs treatment?" But the government has brushed aside such concerns. "We know there is radiation in Disi because it is underground water but we will treat it by diluting it with an equal amount of water from other sources," said Saleh. Jordan University professor Elias Salameh agreed. "The radioactivity can be treated, and it is not a complicated matter."
Munqeth Mehyar, of the Jordanian-Israeli-Palestinian non-governmental group Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), warned against abusing the water resource. "If we overpump the Disi water, we will suffer from problems like sinkholes for example. And there are no studies that tell you for sure how long the aquifer water would last," he said. Jordan has also agreed in principle to build, along with its Palestinian and Israeli neighbours, a four-billion-dollar pipeline from the Red Sea to refill the rapidly shrinking Dead Sea. But the world's lowest and saltiest body of water lies below the Red Sea and the pipeline must cross higher land in order to reach it -- a project that will entail a major pumping effort. A desalination plant would also be built to remove the salt and provide 200 million cubic metres of potable water to Jordan each year.
"This project is worrisome. It will cause indescribable damage," Mehyar warned. A feasibility study is being carried out by the World Bank but environmentalists fear that an influx of seawater could undermine the Dead Sea's fragile ecosystem. The degradation of the Dead Sea began in the 1960s when Israel, Jordan and Syria began to divert water from the Jordan River -- the Dead Sea's main supplier. Over the years 95 percent of the river's flow has been diverted by the three neighbours for agricultural and industrial use, with Israel alone diverts more than 60 percent of it, according to FoEME. The impact on the Dead Sea has been compounded by a drop in groundwater levels as rain water from surrounding mountains dissolved salt deposits that had previously plugged access to underground caverns. Industrial and tourist operations around the shores of the lake exacerbate the situation.
"In its desperate efforts to battle chronic water shortages, Jordan,... more
Lawsuit Filed To Protect Themselves from Unfair Patent Enforcement on Genetically Modified Seed
Action Would Prohibit Biotechnology Giant from Suing Organic Farmers and Seed Growers If Innocently Contaminated by Roundup Ready Genes
NEW York: On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit today against Monsanto Company challenging the chemical giant’s patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.
Monsanto has sued farmers in the United States and Canada, in the past, when their patented genetic material has inadvertently contaminated their crops.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found at:
The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald. Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small businesses and organizations from within the organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers.
“This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed or pollen should land on their property,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director. “It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.”
Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed can contaminate and destroy organic seed for the same crop. For example, soon after Monsanto introduced genetically modified seed for canola, organic canola became virtually impossible to grow as a result of contamination.
Organic corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa also face the same fate, as Monsanto has released genetically modified seed for each of those crops as well.
Monsanto is currently developing genetically modified seed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.
“Monsanto’s threats and abuse of family farmers stops here. Monsanto’s genetic contamination of organic seed and organic crops ends now,” stated Jim Gerritsen, a family farmer in Maine who raises organic seed and is President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “Americans have the right to choice in the marketplace – to decide what kind of food they will feed their families.”
“Family-scale farmers desperately need the judiciary branch of our government to balance the power Monsanto is able to wield in the marketplace and in the courts,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for The Cornucopia Institute, one of the plaintiffs. “Monsanto, and the biotechnology industry, have made great investments in our executive and legislative branches through campaign contributions and powerful lobbyists in Washington.”
In the case, PUBPAT is asking Judge Buchwald to declare that if organic farmers are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, they need not fear also being accused of patent infringement. One reason justifying this result is that Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they don’t meet the “usefulness” requirement of patent law, according to PUBPAT’s Ravicher, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney in the case.
“Evidence cited by PUBPAT in its opening filing today proves that genetically modified seed has negative economic and health effects, while the promised benefits of genetically modified seed – increased production and decreased herbicide use – are false,” added Ravicher who is also a Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.
Ravicher continued, “Some say transgenic seed can coexist with organic seed, but history tells us that’s not possible, and it’s actually in Monsanto’s financial interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total monopoly over our food supply,” said Ravicher. “Monsanto is the same chemical company that previously brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s and other toxins, which they said were safe, but we know are not. Now Monsanto says transgenic seed is safe, but evidence clearly shows it is not.”
The plaintiffs in the suit represented by PUBPAT are: Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association; Organic Crop Improvement Association International, Inc.; OCIA Research and Education Inc.; The Cornucopia Institute; Demeter Association, Inc.; Navdanya International; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts Chapter, Inc.; Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont; Rural Vermont; Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association; Southeast Iowa Organic Association; Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society; (and many many more too many to fit seriously see more and sources at my link thanks )Lawsuit Filed To Protect Themselves from Unfair Patent Enforcement on Genetically... more
By downloading ShopSavvy, a free smartphone application, consumers can scan the GS1 barcode and instantly link with the grower’s profile, website, production practices and a map of the farm -- right at the point of purchase.
http://www.thegrower.org/readnews.php?id=7p1t2o4x6k5tBy downloading ShopSavvy, a free smartphone application, consumers can scan the GS1... more
Researchers are going bananas in the quest to build cleaner, greener cars.
Brazilian scientists have developed a way of using fibers from bananas, pineapples and other plants to create plastic that is stronger and lighter than the petroleum-based stuff. So-called nanocellulose fibers rival Kevlar in strength but are renewable, and the researchers believe they could be widely used within a couple of years.
“The properties of these plastics are incredible,” Alcides Leão, a researcher at Sao Paulo State University, said in a statement. “They are light, but very strong — 30 percent lighter and three to four times stronger.”
That could reduce the weight of new vehicles, which would increase fuel economy. Several automakers are cutting weight in their campaigns to maximize mpg. Ford, for example, hopes to trim 250 to 750 pounds from its vehicles and is exploring nanotechnology to do so.
Beyond being lighter and stronger, Leão says nanocellulosic plastic is more resistant to heat, gasoline and water. He sees it being used for dashboards, bumpers and some body panels.
Cellulose comprises the primary cell wall of green plants. Intensive processing of wood and other plant materials yields nanocellulosic fibers so small that 50,000 fit within the diameter of a human hair. These fibers can be added to other raw materials to produce reinforced plastic.
Leão tells us the nanocellulosic plastic is made entirely of renewable materials and is biodegradable. The nanocellulose could be combined with petroleum-based plastic if a specific application required it, he says, but the resulting product would not be biodegradable.
Pineapple may be the most promising source of nanocellulose, Leão says. Others include bananas, coconut shells, agave and curaua, a plant related to pineapple. The leaves and stems are cooked in a device similar to a pressure cooker, yielding something resembling talcum powder.
It’s expensive stuff, but there’s no word on just how much the nanocellulosic plastic costs because Leão and his team are working in small quantities in the laboratory. Leão says the cost would come down as the scale of production rose, especially if the auto industry embraced the technology. One pound of nanocellulose can produce 100 pounds of plastic.
“So far, we’re focusing on replacing automotive plastics,” Leão says. “But in the future, we may be able to replace steel and aluminum automotive parts using these plant-based nanocellulose materials.”
Leão presented his findings today at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California.Researchers are going bananas in the quest to build cleaner, greener cars.... more
At a bustling Tokyo supermarket Sunday, wary shoppers avoided one particular bin of spinach.
The produce came from Ibaraki prefecture in the northeast, where radiation was found in spinach grown up to 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Another bin of spinach — labeled as being from Chiba prefecture, west of Tokyo — was sold out.
"It's a little hard to say this, but I won't buy vegetables from Fukushima and that area," said shopper Yukihiro Sato, 75.
From corner stores to Tokyo's vast Tsukiji fish market, Japanese shoppers picked groceries with care Sunday after the discovery of contamination in spinach and milk fanned fears about the safety of this crowded country's food supply.
The anxiety added to the spreading impact of the unfolding nuclear crisis triggered when the March 11 tsunami battered the Fukushima complex, wrecking its cooling system and leading to the release of radioactive material.
There were no signs Sunday of the panic buying that stripped Tokyo supermarkets of food last week. Instead, shoppers scrutinized the source of items and tried to avoid what they worried might be tainted.
Mayumi Mizutani was shopping for bottled water, saying she was worried about the health of her visiting 2-year-old grandchild after a tiny amount of radioactive iodine was found in Tokyo's tap water. She expressed fears that the toddler could possibly get cancer.
"That's why I'm going to use this water as much as possible," she said.
The government said the level of radiation detected on spinach and milk was minuscule and should be no threat to health. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said he had received no reports that would require special measures to be taken regarding tap water.
The tainted milk was found 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the plant, a local official said. The spinach was collected from six farms between 60 miles (100 kilometers) and 75 miles (120 kilometers) to the south of the reactors.
Farmers and merchants expressed fears of their own that public anxiety might hurt even producers of goods that were free of contamination.
"There will probably be damaging rumors," said farmer Shizuko Kohata, 60, who was evacuated from the town of Futaba, near the Fukushima complex, to a sports arena in Saitama, north of Tokyo.
"I grow things and I'm worried about whether I can make it in the future," Kohata said SaturdayAt a bustling Tokyo supermarket Sunday, wary shoppers avoided one particular bin of... more
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
The negative impacts of climate change are coming on more quickly than anyone expected. According to a new NASA study, ocean waters are creeping steadily upwards, at rates faster than predicted, Maureen Nandini Mitra reports at Earth Island Journal:
“That ice sheets will dominate future sea level rise is not surprising – they hold a lot more ice mass than mountain glaciers,” Eirc Rignot, the report’s lead author said in a statement emailed by NASA yesterday. “What is surprising is this increased contribution by the ice sheets is already happening.”
This is just the latest warning sign that climate change is happening and that its negative effects will occur more quickly than anyone has prepared for. This will happen despite Republicans’ insistence that there is no hard scientific proof of climate change, and that “just because you might be in the minority doesn’t always mean you’re wrong,” as Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) put it this week at a House subcommittee hearing on climate science.
Dealing with it
This problem is not going to go away. The economist and blogger Tyler Cowen wrote this week that left-wing economists have a “reluctance to admit how hard the climate change problem will be to solve, for fear of wrecking any emerging political consensus on taking action.” In response, Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum comments, “Actually, liberals spend a ton of time talking about how hard climate change is. Still, there’s something to this. As hard as we say it is, it’s probably even harder than that.”
How hard? On Democracy Now!, Naomi Klein argued this week that progressive environmental groups have been pussy-footing around the scope of the issue entirely. She said:
What I see is that the green groups, a lot of the big green groups, are also in a kind of denial, because they want to pretend that this isn’t about politics and economics, and say, “Well, you can just change your light bulb. And no, it won’t really disrupt. You can have green capitalism.” And they’re not really wrestling with the fact that this is about economic growth. This is about an economic model that needs constant and infinite growth on a finite planet. So we really are talking about some deep transformations of our economy if we’re going to deal with climate change. And we need to talk about it.
That’s a tall order for green groups, however, when they’re having a hard time convincing conservatives that climate change even exists. As Klein says, refusing to believe in climate change has become one way that conservatives define themselves, politically, and the pull of ideological identification outweighs any rational attitude toward the science in question.
The example of agriculture
In many cases, solutions to the problems of climate change are clear. Only habit and political intransigence keep them from being put into action.
Agriculture is a great example of this tangle. Industrial farming pollutes earth, water, and air, while sustainable methods of farming promote global health. What’s more, they create as much, if not more, product than industrial farming techniques. This week the United Nations confirmed these benefits in a report on “eco-farming,” what Americans generally call sustainable agriculture. Inter Press Service reports:
“An urgent transformation to ‘eco-farming’ is the only way to end hunger and face the challenges of climate change and rural poverty,” said Olivier De Schutter, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food. … Yields went up 214 percent in 44 projects in 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa using agro-ecological farming techniques over a period of 3 to 10 years… far more than any GM [genetically modified] crop has ever done.
Despite this sort of success, the argument that agribusiness is necessary to feed the world is still running rampant. At Grist, Tom Philpott has been picking apart a series of articles from The Economist that explains, as Philpott puts it “how industrial agriculture is the true and only way to feed the 9 billion people who will inhabit the world by 2050.”
But as Philpott notes, sustainable farming can feed the global population and is better for the planet as well. The United Nations, he writes, has:
found that ‘ecological agriculture’ could ‘assist farmers in adapting to climate change’ by making farm fields more resilient to stress. So why isn’t eco-agriculture catching on? The report cites a bevy of obstacles, none of them technological:
“[L]ack of policy support at local, national, regional and international levels, resource and capacity constraints, and a lack of awareness and inadequate information, training and research on ecological agriculture at all levels.”
Indeed, it can be incredible how simple solutions to seemingly intractable problems can be. For instance, IPS reports, yet another UN report has found one solution to mitigating global hunger: Push back against gender inequality. IPS’s Alan Bojanic and Gustavo Anriquez write:
The UN agency’s report estimates that if women had the same access to agricultural assets, inputs, and services as men they could increase yields on their farms, and this increase could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by roughly 2.5 to 4 percent.
Moreover, such a growth in agricultural production could in turn bring 100 to 150 million people out of hunger – that is about 12 to 17 percent of the 925 million undernourished people that exist in the world according to FAO’s latest estimates.
Dealing with the problems of climate change might be harder than liberals often admit. But some of the simplest solutions haven’t even been tried yet.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
The negative impacts of climate change... more
Food sovereignty is about a system of agriculture where people get to decide their own food and agricultural policies in their own countries without being dictated by foundations or institutions like the WTO or the IMF or the World Bank or trade agreements.People decide what they’re going to eat, who’s going to produce it, what’s going to be produced. And more than that, it’s a whole life system that is sustainable, that respects Mother Earth, that respects human rights and the rights of people to live in dignity, to be well-fed, to be reasonably taken care of, have a decent standard of living. Everything that food sovereignty encompasses is human rights, women’s rights and education: everything that makes a good life and protects the planet. http://www.makeahistory.com/index.php/recent-news/37410-la-via-campesina-food-and-farming-for-the-earthFood sovereignty is about a system of agriculture where people get to decide their own... more
2 years ago
If female farmers had stronger legal rights and more business opportunities millions of people would be better fed, claims a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report released today.
In its annual report, "The State of Food and Agriculture," the U.N. agency finds that global harvests could rise by between 2.5 and 4 percent if women had stronger rights.
The organization estimates that 925 million people are currently undernourished. Closing a gender gap, which leaves female farmers' yields 20 to 30 percent lower than their male counterparts, could reduce undernourishment numbers by between 100 million and 150 million people.
The gender gap in agriculture is tied to women's weaker access to land rights, financing, modern technologies and ownership of animals and equipment.
In many countries, women do not have the same legal rights to buy, sell or inherit land, borrow money or open bank accounts, sell their produce or sign a contract. When women do have similar rights, the law is not always upheld by government officials.
Villarreal said several countries, such as some in sub-Saharan Africa, have changed their laws to give women equal rights to owning and inheriting land. However, she adds, in the rural areas of these countries, where a woman's status isn't recognized, customary standards take precedent.
Read the full run down at Women's eNews http://www.womensenews.org/story/environment/110305/bias-against-female-farmers-shrinks-food-harvestsIf female farmers had stronger legal rights and more business opportunities millions... more
Presia Canario is a type of dogs used for working in livestock. It is a type of Molosser dogs and their Spanish name is Canarian Catch Dog in Short Presa Canario or Presa. They are also named as Dogo Canario means Canarian Molosser. They were first introduced by the Anthropologist Dr. Carl Semencic. Dr. wrote about them in an article for Dogworld Magazine and in his own book.
Presa Canario has muscular and large body with broader head which is huge, square and influential. There head and expression comes from proper breeding. They have reaped ears to make them more frightening.Presia Canario is a type of dogs used for working in livestock. It is a type of... more