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Climate crisis needs radical food changes

Climate crisis needs radical food changes

The entire food system needs to change, researchers say. 

From farm to fork, agriculture fuels global heating. Can the world eat well, but stay a little cooler? That will need radical food changes.

LONDON, 3 July, 2019 – To feed 9 billion people by 2050, and keep planet Earth from overheating, will mean massive and radical food changes – and not just in the way food is grown.

To contain global temperatures to no more than 2°C above the average for most of human history will require humanity to change its diet, contain its appetite and reform the entire system of food production and distribution.

This is the verdict of the latest study of the challenge set in Paris in 2015, when 195 nations promised to limit global warming – driven by profligate use of fossil fuels and by the conversion of forest, grassland and wetlands into commercial use – to “well below” 2°C by 2100.

Researchers report in the journal Sustainability that they looked at 160 studies and analyses of global agriculture and food systems and most closely at the world’s smallholders and markets that sustain as many as 2.5 billion people, mostly in the developing world.

Farming’s massive impact

Small farmers account for about a third of global agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, but these include also many of the people most vulnerable to the coming climate crisis, which is likely to put harvests at hazard on a global scale.

Agriculture, together with forestry and changes in land use, accounts for a quarter of all the carbon dioxide, methane and oxides of nitrogen that fuel global warming.

Just on its own, the action of growing grain, fruit and vegetables or feeding grazing animals accounts for no more than 12% of global warming, but a third of all the food that leaves the farm gate is wasted before it arrives on the supper table.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food

Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food

Photograph Source: Mattes – CC BY-SA

The ontology and ecology of food

Food is not a commodity, it is not “stuff” put together mechanically and artificially in labs and factories. Food is life. Food holds the contributions of all beings that make the food web, and it holds the potential of maintaining and regenerating the web of life. Food also holds the potential for health and disease, depending on how it was grown and processed. Food is therefore the living currency of the web of life.

As an ancient Upanishad reminds us “Everything is food, everything is something else’s food. “

Good Food and Real Food are the basis of health .

Bad food, industrial food, fake food is the basis of disease.

Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine”. In Ayurveda, India’s ancient science of life, food is called “sarvausadha” the medicine that cures all disease.

Industrial food systems have reduced food to a commodity, to “stuff” that can then be constituted in the lab. In the process both the planet’s health and our health has been nearly destroyed.

75% of the planetary destruction of soil, water, biodiversity, and 50% of greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial agriculture, which also contributes to 75% of food related chronic diseases. It contributes 50% of the GHG’s driving Climate Change. Chemical agriculture does not return organic matter and fertility to the soil. Instead it is contributing to desertification and land degradation. It also demands more water since it destroys the soil’s natural water-holding capacity. Industrial food systems have destroyed the biodiversity of the planet both through the spread of monocultures, and through the use of toxics and poisons which are killing bees, butterflies, insects, birds, leading to the sixth mass extinction.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Farms Are Facing Their Worst Crisis In A Generation – And Now Here Comes Another Monster Storm

U.S. Farms Are Facing Their Worst Crisis In A Generation – And Now Here Comes Another Monster Storm

The combination of the wettest planting season in U.S. history, a catastrophic trade war with China and economic conditions that are brutal for small farms has produced a “perfect storm” for U.S. farmers.  Farm bankruptcies have already risen to the highest level in 7 years, but many expect that they will soon surge to all-time record highs.  Due to the incredibly wet weather, millions upon millions of acres of prime U.S. farmland will not be planted with crops at all this year.  And millions of acres that do get planted will yield a lot less than usual because of the wretched conditions.  Meanwhile, the U.S. will export far less corn and soybeans than usual this year due to our trade conflicts with China and Mexico.  With much less international demand, U.S. farmers are going to have an increasingly difficult time trying to make a profit on anything they are able to grow.  In the end, thousands of farmers will not be able to recover from this crisis and will be forced out of the industry for good.

According to USA Today, “a near biblical parade of misfortune” has created “the worst farm crisis since the 1980s”…

American farmers already plagued by a near biblical parade of misfortune that includes years of low prices and a trade war with China are now grappling with record Midwest rain that will likely prevent a large portion of this year’s crop from even getting planted.

The troubles have created the worst farm crisis since the 1980s, when oversupplies and a U.S. grain embargo against the Soviet Union forced thousands of farmers into bankruptcy, experts say.

So we can definitely say that this is the worst farm crisis in a generation, but the truth is that this crisis is far from over.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Do We Face a Global Food Disaster?

Do We Face a Global Food Disaster?

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No, this is not at all an endorsement of the apocalyptic scenarios of AOC or that famous young Swedish climate expert, Greta. It is, however, a look at unusual weather disasters in several key growing regions from the USA to Australia, the Philippines and beyond that could dramatically affect food availability and prices in the coming year. That in turn could have major political implications depending on how the rest of the growing season develops.

USA Midwest Waterlogged

According to the latest May 20 report of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the US Department of Agriculture, corn and soybean crops are well behind the planting growth levels normal this time of the planting season. They report that only 49% of all planned corn acreage in the US has been planted compared with 78% at this time a year ago. Of that only 19% has yet emerged from the ground compared to 47% in May 2018. In terms of soybeans, barely 19% of crops have yet been planted compared with 53% a year before. Rice acreage planted is down to 73% compared to 92% a year ago in the six US rice-growing states. Of course, should weather dramatically improve the final harvest numbers could improve. It is simply too early to predict.

The USA is by a wide margin the world largest soybean producer with 34 percent of the world’s soybean production and 42% of world exports prior to the China trade battles. The US is also the world largest corn or maize producer, almost double China, the number two. A serious harvest failure in these two crops could significantly affect world food prices, leaving aside the unfortunate fact that almost all US soybeans and corn are GMO crops. They are mainly used in animal feed. 

Due To Cataclysmic Flooding, Millions Upon Millions Of Acres Of U.S. Farmland Will Not Be Planted With Crops This Year

Due To Cataclysmic Flooding, Millions Upon Millions Of Acres Of U.S. Farmland Will Not Be Planted With Crops This Year

It looks like 2019 could be the worst year for U.S. agriculture in modern American history by a very wide margin.  As you will see below, millions upon millions of acres of U.S. farmland will go unused this year due to cataclysmic flooding.  And many of the farmers that did manage to plant crops are reporting extremely disappointing results.  The 12 month period that concluded at the end of April was the wettest 12 month period in U.S. history, and more storms just kept on coming throughout the month of May.  And now forecasters are warning of another series of storms this week, and following that it looks like a tropical storm will pummel the region.  As Bloomberg has pointed out, we have truly never seen a year like this ever before…

There has never been a spring planting season like this one. Rivers topped their banks. Levees were breached. Fields filled with water and mud. And it kept raining.

Many farmers just kept waiting for the flooding and the rain to end so that they could plant their crops, but that didn’t happen.

At this point it is too late for many farmers to plant crops at all, and it is now being projected that 6 million acres of farmland that is usually used for corn will go completely unsown this year

There has never been weather like this, either. The 12 months that ended with April were the wettest ever for the contiguous U.S. That spurred other firsts: Corn plantings are further behind schedule for this time of year than they have been in records dating to 1980 and analysts are predicting an unheard-of 6 million acres intended for the grain may simply go unsown this year.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

American Soil Is Being Globalized: Nearly 30 Million Acres Of U.S. Farmland Is Now Owned By Foreigners

American Soil Is Being Globalized: Nearly 30 Million Acres Of U.S. Farmland Is Now Owned By Foreigners

All across America, U.S. farmland is being gobbled up by foreign interests.  So when we refer to “the heartland of America”, the truth is that vast stretches of that “heartland” is now owned by foreigners, and most Americans have no idea that this is happening.  These days, a lot of people are warning about the “globalization” of the world economy, but in reality our own soil is rapidly being “globalized”.  When farms are locally owned, the revenue that those farms take in tends to stay in local communities.  But with foreign-owned farms there is no guarantee that will happen.  And while there is plenty of food to go around this is not a major concern, but what happens when a food crisis erupts and these foreign-owned farms just keep sending their produce out of the country?  There are some very serious national security concerns here, and they really aren’t being addressed.  Instead, the amount of farmland owned by foreigners just continues to increase with each passing year.

Prior to seeing the headline to this article, how much U.S. farmland would you have guessed that foreigners now own?

Personally, I had no idea that foreigners now own nearly 30 million acres.  The following comes from NPR

American soil.

Those are two words that are commonly used to stir up patriotic feelings. They are also words that can’t be be taken for granted, because today nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are held by foreign investors. That number has doubled in the past two decades, which is raising alarm bells in farming communities.

How did we allow this to happen?

And actually laws regarding land ownership vary greatly from state to state.  Some states have placed strict restrictions on foreign land ownership, while in other states it is “a free-for-all”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Crop Catastrophe In The Midwest – Latest USDA Crop Progress Report Indicates That A Nightmare Scenario Is Upon Us

Crop Catastrophe In The Midwest – Latest USDA Crop Progress Report Indicates That A Nightmare Scenario Is Upon Us

The last 12 months have been the wettest in all of U.S. history, and this has created absolutely horrific conditions for U.S. farmers.  Thanks to endless rain and historic flooding that has stretched on for months, many farmers have not been able to plant crops at all, and a lot of the crops that have actually been planted are deeply struggling.  What this means is that U.S. agricultural production is going to be way, way down this year.  The numbers that I am about to share with you are deeply alarming, and they should serve as a wake up call for all of us.  The food that each one of us eats every day is produced by our farmers, and right now our farmers are truly facing a nightmare scenario.

You can view the latest USDA crop progress report right here.  According to that report, corn and soybean production is way behind expectations.

Last year, 78 percent of all corn acreage had been planted by now.  This year, that number is sitting at just 49 percent.

And the percentage of corn that has emerged from the ground is at a paltry 19 percent compared to 47 percent at this time last year.

We see similar numbers when we look at soybeans.

Last year, 53 percent of all soybean acreage had been planted by now.  This year, that number has fallen to 19 percent.

And the percentage of soybeans that have emerged from the ground is just 5 percent compared to 24 percent at this time last year.

In other words, we are going to have a whole lot less corn and soybeans this year.

Farmers in the middle of the country desperately need conditions to dry out for an extended period of time, but so far that has not happened.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Superbugs and the Ultimate Economic Weapon: Food

Superbugs and the Ultimate Economic Weapon: Food

The food-exporting superpowers are easy to identify.

As my esteemed colleague Michael Snyder chronicled in a recent Zero Hedge post, world agricultural production is under assault from extreme weather and diseases such as African swine fever. Floods & Drought Devastate Crops All Over The Planet; Is A Global Food Crisis Be Coming?

Everyone understands extreme weather is a danger to food production. The overuse of antibiotics is less well understood. As this article explains, most antibiotics are given to livestock, which then become breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant microbes, which are known as superbugsonce they develop immunity to all conventional antibiotics.

Are antibiotics turning livestock into superbug factories?

Almost 80% of all antibiotics in the United States aren’t taken by people. They’re given to cows, pigs, and chickens to make them grow more quickly or as a cheap alternative to keeping them healthy. These drugs could give rise to superbugs—bacteria that can’t be treated with modern medicine—and things are only getting worse. In 2013, more than 131,000 tons of antibiotics were used in food animals worldwide; by 2030, it will be more than 200,000 tons.

Here’s the problem with superbugs: you can’t kill them with standard-issue antibiotics. They spread like wildfire through monoculture crops and livestock yards and kill with indiscriminate alacrity.

The only solution, poor as it is, is to kill every animal that might be infected–tens of millions or hundreds of millions in the case of African swine fever.

Pigs and chickens are breeding grounds for diseases that jump the low barrier between livestock and humans. So the superbug that starts out killing animals can, with generally modest genetic modifications via variability, start infecting and killing humans with the same alacrity.

Super scary: animal agriculture linked to global ‘superbug’ threat

How industrial farming techniques can breed superbugs

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

After Reading This Article About The Danger Of GMOs, You Will Probably Never Want To Eat Genetically-Modified Food Again

After Reading This Article About The Danger Of GMOs, You Will Probably Never Want To Eat Genetically-Modified Food Again

Every single day, most Americans eagerly gobble down foods that contain ingredients that have been genetically-modified without ever considering the consequences.  Most of us simply assume that the federal government would never allow us to eat GMOs if they were not safe.  Unfortunately, it appears that the federal government has completely failed us.  The material that I am about to share with you is deeply disturbing, and after reading this article there is a very good chance that you will never want to eat genetically-modified food ever again.  But at this point it is almost impossible to completely avoid GMOs, because they are in almost everything.  Unless they are specifically designated “organic”, most corn, soy, canola and sugar beets grown in America today have been genetically modified, and almost all packaged foods contain ingredients derived from at least one of those sources.

We’ll get into some of the potential health effects of eating foods derived from GMO crops in a moment, but first I want to discuss a new trend that is potentially even more dangerous.

In recent years, researchers have been pushing the boundaries of biology in order to come up with new “plant-based” alternatives to existing food products.  Essentially, “synthetic biology” is being used “to create life forms from scratch”

Impossible’s “bleeding” veggie burger, shrimp made of algae, and vegan cheeses that melt are all making their way into restaurants and on to supermarket shelves, offering consumers a new generation of plant-based proteins that look, act, and taste far more like the real thing than ever before.

What consumers may not realize, however, is that many of these new foods are made using synthetic biology, an emerging science that applies principles of genetic engineering to create life forms from scratch.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Floods And Drought Devastate Crops All Over The Planet – Could A Global Food Crisis Be Coming?

Floods And Drought Devastate Crops All Over The Planet – Could A Global Food Crisis Be Coming?

It looks like global food production could be well below expectations in 2019, and that could spell big trouble in the months ahead.  In recent weeks, I have written extensively about the problems that we have been experiencing here in the United States.  As many as a million calves were lost to the flooding that hit the state of Nebraska in March, farmers have planted less than half of the corn that is normally in the ground by this time of the year, and a lot of the crops that have been planted in the middle of the country are really struggling due to extremely wet soil.  But it isn’t just the United States that is facing a very troubling year.  Earlier today, one of my readers sent me an article entitled “Global food crisis ahead as extreme weather events devastate crops and fields around the world”which I would encourage everyone to read.  In that article, we are told that after the worst drought in 116 years Australia has actually been forced to import wheat.  And according to the Guardian, this is the first time in 12 years that this has happened…

Australia is planning to import wheat for the first time in 12 years after drought across the eastern states saw grain production fall 20% last year.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources confirmed this week it had issued a bulk import permit to allow wheat to be brought in from Canada to be processed for the domestic market.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production: Only 30% Of U.S. Corn Fields Have Been Planted – 5 Year Average Is 66%

Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production: Only 30% Of U.S. Corn Fields Have Been Planted – 5 Year Average Is 66%

2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry.  Thanks to endless rain and unprecedented flooding, fields all over the middle part of the country are absolutely soaked right now, and this has prevented many farmers from getting their crops in the ground.  I knew that this was a problem, but when I heard that only 30 percent of U.S. corn fields had been planted as of Sunday, I had a really hard time believing it.  But it turns out that number is 100 percent accurate.  And at this point corn farmers are up against a wall because crop insurance final planting dates have either already passed or are coming up very quickly.  In addition, for every day after May 15th that corn is not in the ground, farmers lose approximately 2 percent of their yield.  Unfortunately, more rain is on the way, and it looks like thousands of corn farmers will not be able to plant corn at all this year.  It is no exaggeration to say that what we are facing is a true national catastrophe.

According to the Department of Agriculture, over the past five years an average of 66 percent of all corn fields were already planted by now…

U.S. farmers seeded 30% of the U.S. 2019 corn crop by Sunday, the government said, lagging the five-year average of 66%. The soybean crop was 9% planted, behind the five-year average of 29%.

Soybean farmers have more time to recover, but they are facing a unique problem of their own which we will talk about later in the article.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“The Story of Soil Is the Story of All of Us”

“The Story of Soil Is the Story of All of Us”

Annie Leonard and Tom Newmark on how they came to see soil as a solution to one of our biggest environmental problems—and as a tool to build more resilient communities.

1. HandsInSoil.jpg

Wendell Berry called it “the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all.” Ninety-five percent of our food is grown in it, it stores and filters our water and provides a home for the majority of life on the planet, and yet most of us rarely pay much attention to it. We dump poisonous chemicals on it, inject it with synthetic nutrients, slash it with plows, strip it of its natural diversity, and bury our trash in it.

But soil has a story to tell us, and we are all a part of it.

For as long as humans have engaged in agriculture, and even before, we’ve relied on healthy soil and the organisms it supports. And for most of that time, we’ve cultivated good soil. Early societies developed food production systems that actually enhanced soil fertility and food abundance, such as with “terra preta,” or Amazonian dark earth, and the food forests of the Mayans. We planted, harvested, and consumed but also took care to nourish and regenerate.

What changed? At some point, humans started relating to the planet differently, and our emotional and spiritual connection to the earth was severed. Whether the shift happened during the Neolithic Revolution, when humans settled and established agriculture, or the Age of Enlightenment, when nature became viewed as an object to be observed and controlled, the result was a disconnect from nature. We became, in the words of Daniel Quinn in his book Ishmael, “Takers” and not “Leavers.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Post-Brexit Farming, Glyphosate and GMOs

Post-Brexit Farming, Glyphosate and GMOs

The following is an edited and abridged version of an open letter recently sent by Dr Rosemary Mason to Michael Gove, the British Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The full version containing relevant citations and additional data and information may be accessed here

You can also find on the site linked to all of Rosemary Mason’s previous work outlining the devastating impact of glyphosate and modern farming practices which remain in place due to the well-documented subversion of science and the corruption of governments and regulatory bodies by industry interests.

It seems likely that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US could mean more of the same and lead to the introduction of GM crops in the UK alongside the lowering of standards for the use of biocides in agriculture. Sainsbury Laboratory already has plans for a new open air field trial of GM potatoes on farms in Suffolk and Cambridge.

Below, Dr Mason lays out her concerns to Mr Gove.

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Dear Michael Gove,

I am surprised to learn that from the huge number of scientists employed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Rothamsted Research (research institute involved in developing and testing GM crops) that not one of them has read the new book by Caius Rommens, former team leader at Monsanto. He helped create GM potatoes and has retracted his research as he explains in the book ‘Pandora’s Potatoes: The Worst GMOs’.

Professor Jonathan Jones, group leader for the Sainsbury Laboratory has worked for Monsanto in the past, so he has massive conflicts of interest.

It all shows an ignorance beyond belief!

In an interview with Sustainable Pulse, Caius Rommens has revealed the hidden dangers of the GMO potatoes he created:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Five dollars is not enough for five a day

Five dollars is not enough for five a day

In discussions about food, environment and health, a resource perspective is often lacking. For more than half of the global population what ends up on their plate is mostly a function of their economic and energetic circumstances. If one want to change what people eat it is necessary to understand the realities of the global food system. Without that, all well-intended advice for a diet better for health or for the environment are falling on barren rock instead of in fertile ground. 

The WHO says that 3.9 million deaths could be avoided if people ate more fruit and vegetables. The recent report of the EAT Lancet Commission recommends that people should eat at least 500 gram fruit and vegetables per day. Many countries have similar recommendations of a certain quantity in weight or in number of servings or portions. But in almost no country are people doing what they are told.  In Sweden only 1 percent of the men in rural Arjeplog eat their half a kilo per day while 19 percent of the women in wealthy, urban Täby does it. Are people stupid or what? 

In order to understand fruit and vegetables consumption it is essential to realize some pertinent facts. Fruits and vegetables are mostly luxury plants in comparison with grains, pulses, root crops. Very few traditional farming systems have had a high share of fruits and vegetables unless you include starchy crops like plantains, potatoes, cassava or yams in your definition. The reason for it is that they are fairly demanding to grow and their content of the most essential food components, energy and protein, is low. Even today, fruits and vegetables are expensive to buy. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

ANOTHER “Bomb Cyclone” Will Bring More Flooding To Parts Of The Midwest That Were Hit By A “1,000 Year Flood” Last Month

ANOTHER “Bomb Cyclone” Will Bring More Flooding To Parts Of The Midwest That Were Hit By A “1,000 Year Flood” Last Month

Less than a month after a “bomb cyclone” caused a “1,000 year flood” in the middle portion of the country, another “bomb cyclone” of similar strength is going to bring even more flooding to the High Plains and Upper Midwest.  According to meteorologists, it is being projected that this new “bomb cyclone” will be “similar in intensity and in snowfall” to the last one, and the latest forecast is calling for “more than 30 inches in some areas”.  The floods that we witnessed last month absolutely devastated communities throughout the region, and now it is going to happen again.  The middle part of our nation has literally never seen anything like this happen ever before, and this is easily the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Hurricane Katrina.

Before I get into the details of the latest weather forecast, let’s review what we have witnessed so far.  “At least 1 million acres of U.S. farmland” were under water for at least 7 days last month, according to Agriculture Secretary Sunny Purdue “as many as a million calves” were lost in the flooding in the state of Nebraska alone, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crops were destroyed.  Thousands upon thousands of farmers were financially ruined, and thousands of farmers will not be able to plant any crops at all this year.

If you can point out a worse agricultural disaster in the last 50 years in the United States, please feel free to do so.  To my knowledge, there isn’t one.

And now a second “bomb cyclone” is on the way this week.  According to CBS News, it looks like this “bomb cyclone” will produce “a blizzard of epic proportions”…

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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