Sustainability

Sustainability is Not Only About Farming, it Should Extend Right Through to Consumers

A lot is said and written about sustainability, usually in the context of the farming, food supply and economic worlds, but pinning down what it actually means and actually achieving it can be more challenging.

Read more: Sustainability is Not Only About Farming, it Should Extend Right Through to Consumers

 

Are All Farm Subsidies Giveaways to Corporate Farmers? Nope, Here's a Rundown on Both Good and Bad Subsidies

While many subsidies seem like baseless giveaways to corporate farmers, others can actually help improve the sustainability of our food system.

With the 2012 farm bill less than a year away, farmers and eaters alike are already thinking about the changes they would like to see in it. Unfortunately, the subsidies that dominate much of the debate are complex and, for many, confusing.

Read more: Are All Farm Subsidies Giveaways to Corporate Farmers? Nope, Here's a Rundown on Both Good and Bad Subsidies

   

Is Genetic Engineering Really Necessary?

Knowing how dangerous herbicides and herbicide-resistant crops can be, and simply knowing how much there is that we just don't know yet about GE crops, the questions naturally arise: Do we really need genetically engineered crops? That is, do the potential benefits outweigh the risks? Do we already have better alternatives at our disposal? Certainly a serious discussion is in order.

Read more: Is Genetic Engineering Really Necessary?

   

Feedlot Meat Has Spurred a Soy Boom That Has a Devastating Environmental and Human Cost

South America is being taken over by a handful of companies in the soy business that are destroying ecologically sensitive areas and pushing people from their ancestral land.

Read more: Feedlot Meat Has Spurred a Soy Boom That Has a Devastating Environmental and Human Cost

   

Statistics Show Encouraging Signs of Changes in UK Consumer and Farmer Behaviour

In the UK the Office for National Statistics collects data on many subjects, one of which is an annual survey of materials flow that it has been collecting since 1970.

It would seem that the country's use of a variety of materials has dropped back to its second lowest level since records began and that this decline has been happening since well before the onset of the global economic crisis in 2007-08.

Read more: Statistics Show Encouraging Signs of Changes in UK Consumer and Farmer Behaviour

   

GE and The Environment

In theory, genetically engineered crops are meant to be better for the environment. For instance, Monsanto's Roundup Ready beets are designed so they do not require soil tilling and use far less herbicide than traditional or organic beet seeds. Reports newwest.net, "According to the Sugar Industry Biotech Council, using less herbicide means 'reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced soil erosion, reduced soil compaction and enhanced water conservation.'" Certainly, those seem like good things. Unfortunately, in the same article, the Director of Advocacy and Communications for the Organic Seed Alliance explains that, "… while farmers might need less herbicide for the first few years, studies show that in the long term they'll end up using more. This study for the Organic Center used USDA data to show that in the last 13 years farmers using GM seeds used 318 million more pounds of pesticides as the weeds developed a resistance to Roundup."

Read more: GE and The Environment

   

Sustainability, a 7 Billion Global Population and Climate Change Talks

The media has been focusing on the expected announcement the United Nations in October 2011 of the birth of the world's seven billionth baby.

It has also been anticipating this year's annual Climate Change talks due to start in Durban in late November. There seems to be little optimism that this year will see much positive action to reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and climate change, as enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol, the climate change treaty.

Read more: Sustainability, a 7 Billion Global Population and Climate Change Talks

   

The World's Small Farmers are Frequently Innovative Business People

October 16 2011 was World Food Day and its theme was the effect that volatile food prices have on the poorest people but also on the world's small farmers.

The charity Greenpeace estimates that 40% of the world's population are small farmers, the majority of them farming fewer than five acres and between them producing most of the world's food.

Read more: The World's Small Farmers are Frequently Innovative Business People

   

The Vanishing Arctic

Largely unnoticed, a silent drama has been unfolding over the past weeks in the Arctic. The long-term consequences will far outstrip those of the international debt crisis or the demise of the Libyan dictatorship, the news stories now commanding media attention. The drama - more accurately, a tragedy - playing out in the North is the rapid disappearance of the polar ice cap, the Arctic Ocean's defining feature.

Read more: The Vanishing Arctic

   

Worst Food Additive Ever? It's in Half of All Foods We Eat and Its Production Destroys Rainforests and Enslaves Children

The production of this ingredient causes jaw-dropping amounts of deforestation (and with it, carbon emissions) and human rights abuses.

On August 10, police and security for the massive palm oil corporation Wilmar International (of which Archer Daniels Midland owns a majority share) stormed a small, indigenous village on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They came with bulldozers and guns, destroying up to 70 homes, evicting 82 families, and arresting 18 people. Then they blockaded the village, keeping the villagers in -- and journalists out. (Wilmar claims it has done no wrong.)

Read more: Worst Food Additive Ever? It's in Half of All Foods We Eat and Its Production Destroys Rainforests and Enslaves Children

   

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