Agriculture and Food Security
The mission of this Working Group is explore new directions in Agriculture and Food Security.
A swarm of the Red Locusts passes through the Madagascar town of Sakaraha, on April 27, 2013 (AFP, Bilal Tarabey) Experts estimate there are currently 100 swarms across Madagascar, made up of about 500 billion ravenous locusts
submitted by Luis Kun
Agence-France Press (AFP) - by Gaelle Borgia - May 9, 2013
ANTANANARIVO — For three quarters of an hour a giant swarm of locusts streams across the sky above southwest Madagascar.
Along National Route Seven, normally an artery for tourists enjoying breathtaking views of the island's vast open spaces, a 15 kilometre long (nine mile) swarm clouds the sky.
Travellers today see little more than a natural disaster in progress -- a plague of locusts which has already destroyed half of the Indian Ocean island's crops.
Chapter 2. The Ecology of Population Growth - Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity
Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity
Chapter 2. The Ecology of Population Growth
by Lester R. Brown
Throughout most of human existence, population growth has been so slow as to be imperceptible within a single generation. Reaching a global population of 1 billion in 1804 required the entire time since modern humans appeared on the scene. To add the second billion, it took until 1927, just over a century. Thirty-three years later, in 1960, world population reached 3 billion. Then the pace sped up, as we added another billion every 13 years or so until we hit 7 billion in late 2011.
One of the consequences of this explosive growth in human numbers is that human demands have outrun the carrying capacity of the economy’s natural support systems—its forests, fisheries, grasslands, aquifers, and soils. Once demand exceeds the sustainable yield of these natural systems, additional demand can only be satisfied by consuming the resource base itself. We call this overcutting, overfishing, overgrazing, overpumping, and overplowing. It is these overages that are undermining our global civilization.
Honeybees are vital for pollinating crops - a job that would be very costly without them
bbc.co.uk - April 29, 2013
The European Commission will restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers, despite a split among EU states on the issue.
There is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee populations.
Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.
But many farmers and crop experts argue that there is insufficient data.
Corn in the hands of a farmworker in South Africa. Photograph: Greatstock Photographic Library/Alamy
guardian.co.uk - by John Vidal - April 13, 2013
Millions of people could become destitute in Africa and Asia as staple foods more than double in price by 2050 as a result of extreme temperatures, floods and droughts that will transform the way the world farms.
As food experts gather at two major conferences to discuss how to feed the nine billion people expected to be alive in 2050, leading scientists have told the Observer that food insecurity risks turning parts of Africa into permanent disaster areas. Rising temperatures will also have a drastic effect on access to basic foodstuffs, with potentially dire consequences for the poor.
US National Climate Assessment
Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity
by Lester R. Brown
With food scarcity driven by falling water tables, eroding soils, and rising temperatures, control of arable land and water resources is moving to center stage in the global struggle for food security. “In this era of tightening world food supplies, the ability to grow food is fast becoming a new form of geopolitical leverage. Food is the new oil,” Lester R. Brown writes.
What will the geopolitics of food look like in a new era dominated by scarcity and food nationalism? Brown outlines the political implications of land acquisitions by grain-importing countries in Africa and elsewhere as well as the world’s shrinking buffers against poor harvests. With wisdom accumulated over decades of tracking agricultural issues, Brown exposes the increasingly volatile food situation the world is facing.
(SEE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IN LINKS BELOW)
Chapter 1. Food: The Weak Link
The researchers found the highest levels of lead in rice from China and Taiwan
submitted by Lloyd Helferty
bbc.co.uk - by Jason Palmer - April 10, 2013
Analysis of commercially available rice imported into the US has revealed it contains levels of lead far higher than regulations suggest are safe.
Some samples exceeded the "provisional total tolerable intake" (PTTI) set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by a factor of 120.
The report at the American Chemical Society Meeting adds to the already well-known issue of arsenic in rice.
Journal of Environmental Science and Health (Part B)
The map shows the prevalence of undernourishment in the total population as of 2010 - 2012. The indicator is an estimate of the percentage of the population having access to an amount of energy from food insufficient to maintain a healthy life.
New Era of Food Scarcity Echoes Collapsed Civilizations (Adapted from Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity by Lester R. Brown)
Earth Policy Institute - Book Byte - February 7, 2013
In Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity, Lester Brown explains that "The world is in transition from an era of food abundance to one of scarcity."
With the demand for grain increasing and the supply of grain decreasing, food prices are rising and hunger is spreading. "On the demand side of the food equation, population growth, rising affluence, and the conversion of food into fuel for cars are combining to raise consumption by record amounts. On the supply side, extreme soil erosion, growing water shortages, and the earth’s rising temperature are making it more difficult to expand production."
"Food shortages undermined earlier civilizations. The Sumerians and Mayans are just two of the many early civilizations that declined apparently because they moved onto an agricultural path that was environmentally unsustainable ... We, too, are on such a path."
"The bottom line is that it is becoming much more difficult for the world’s farmers to keep up with the world’s rapidly growing demand for grain ... We are entering a time of chronic food scarcity, one that is leading to intense competition for control of land and water resources—in short, a new geopolitics of food."
Image: Grain production in 2012
earth-policy.org - January 17th, 2013 - Janet Larsen
The world produced 2,241 million tons of grain in 2012, down 75 million tons or 3 percent from the 2011 record harvest. The drop was largely because of droughts that devastated several major crops—namely corn in the United States (the world’s largest crop) and wheat in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Australia. Each of these countries also is an important exporter.
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www.independent.co.uk - by John von Radowitz - January 10th, 2013
As much as half of all the food produced in the world - two billion tonnes worth - ends up being thrown away, a new report claims.
The waste is caused by poor infrastructure and storage facilities, over-strict sell-by dates, "get-one-free" offers, and consumer fussiness, according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Each year countries around the world produce some four billion tonnes of food.
na-businesspress.com - Getachew Berhan, Shawndra Hill, Tsegaye Tadesse, Solomon Atnafu
The main objective of this research was to develop a new concept and approach to extract knowledge from satellite imageries for near real-time drought monitoring. The near real-time data downloaded from the Atlantic Bird satellite were used to produce the drought spatial distribution. Our results showed that approximately 40% of the observed areas exhibited negative deviation. In this study, the possibility of using the near real-time spatio-temporal Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) data for drought monitoring in food insecure areas of Ethiopia was tested, and promising results were obtained. The output of this research is expected to assist decision makers in taking timely and appropriate action in order to save millions of lives in drought-affected areas.
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Image: Correlation of violent protests in Africa and the Middle East with local food prices.
compression.org - October 25th, 2012 - Robert W. "Doc" Hall
Formal risk management has become common in large organizations. Risk management has become complex, standardized in ISO 31000, and meriting university degrees. Most risk assessment multiplies the consequences of an event times its probability to create a risk index. Managements can then choose to eliminate, mitigate, or accept each risk.
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Drought-withered corn stalks in Indiana, August 2012. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
guardian.co.uk - by George Monbiot - October 15, 2012
With forecasts currently based only on averages, food production may splutter out even sooner than we feared
I believe we might have made a mistake: a mistake whose consequences, if I am right, would be hard to overstate. I think the forecasts for world food production could be entirely wrong. Food prices are rising again, partly because of the damage done to crops in the northern hemisphere by ferocious weather.
submitted by Paul G.Kaplan
A drying corn field in southern Minnesota. Bad weather has resulted in a poor harvest this year. Photograph: David I. Gross/ Corbis
As the UN and Oxfam warn of the dangers ahead, expert analyst Lester Brown says time to solve the problem is running out
guardian.co.uk - by John Vidal - October 13, 2012
Brandon Hunnicutt has had a year to remember. The young Nebraskan from Hamilton County farms 2,600 acres of the High Plains with his father and brother. What looked certain in an almost perfect May to be a "phenomenal" harvest of maize and soy beans has turned into a near disaster.
Book - Full Planet, Empty Plates
huffingtonpost.com - by Cathy Herholdt - October 10, 2012
Getting food into the hands of the hungry in the Horn of Africa is about to go high-tech. Seattle-based humanitarian organization World Concern is piloting a new mobile phone app in the drought-stricken region, aiming to streamline the process of tracking food distributed to hungry families and payment to local merchants.
The system tracks beneficiaries and the food they receive via bar codes that are scanned into a mobile phone. Merchants have an I.D. card with a bar code, which is also scanned so they can be paid via wire transfer almost instantly.
Scan My List
submitted by Samuel Bendett
Homeland Security News Wire - October 11, 2012
More efficient use of the food production chain and a decrease in the amount of food losses will dramatically help maintaining the planet’s natural resources and improve people’s lives; researchers have proved a valid estimation, for the first time, for how many people could be fed with reducing food losses
Researchers in Aalto University have proved a valid estimation, for the first time, for how many people could be fed with reducing food losses.
An Aalto University release reports that the world’s population is an estimated seven billion people. An additional one billion can be fed from our current resources, if the food losses could be halved. This can be achieved if the lowest loss percentage achieved in any region could be reached globally.
Centre for Science in the Public Interest - cspinet.org
The Third Biennial Championing Public Health Nutrition
October 29-30, 2012 at the University of Toronto's Hart House
7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, Canada
Health and food-policy experts, key policy-makers, journalists, and health advocates from across Canada and around the world will explore how to reform public health nutrition policies. The conference will convene at the University of Toronto's Hart House Great Hall, steps away from the Ontario Legislature.
ethicalcorp.com - by Mallen Baker - October 4, 2012
Mallen Baker argues that it’s irresponsible not to make contingency plans, especially when the potential failures concern the fundamentals – such as food
Imagine your critical business systems depend on one computer server. This server is huge – it has immense capacity – but you have grown into that space and now every single day you are pushing it to its limit. . .
. . . Now let’s substitute the global food system for the server. Here we have a system that is operating at full capacity. Any hiccups in normal production can lead to serious problems. This year we have seen such hiccups.
submitted by Albert Gomez
iso.org - May 2010
The use of fish and wood products continues to grow and are fast becoming the world's most traded commodities in their respective fields. At the same time, both sectors, crucial to biodiversity, are facing the pressing threat of climate change.
ISO's standards are powerful tools for taking action and the May issue showcases stories from companies benefiting from ISO standards, such as a Namibian fish processor or a large Brazilian company in the paperboard market, implementing management systems standards for quality and environmental or food safety as well as occupational health and safety.