Agricultural Biodiversity
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Agricultural Biodiversity
Genetic and species diversity of crops, trees, livestock, fish, pollinators, microbes etc etc
Curated by Luigi Guarino
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How Tracking Product Sources May Help Save World’s Forests - Yale (2016) 

How Tracking Product Sources May Help Save World’s Forests - Yale (2016)  | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it

Global businesses are increasingly pledging to obtain key commodities only from sources that do not contribute to deforestation. Now, nonprofit groups are deploying data tools that help hold these companies to their promises by tracing the origins of everything from soy to timber to beef...


NGOs launched... the first global ecological tracking system for the commodities that drive tropical deforestation... Trase – Transparency for Sustainable Economies... “Over the next five years, we aim to cover over 70 percent of the total production in major forest-risk commodities, for the first time laying bare the flows of globally traded commodities that are driving deforestation” says Toby Gardner... Through transparency, Gardner hopes for accountability. And if the deforesters are accountable, he hopes they will stop – or be forced to stop.

The threat posed to rainforests by the international trade in agricultural commodities now far exceeds any other. At least two-thirds of deforestation comes down to a few key commodities: palm oil, soy, timber, paper and pulp, beef, and leather, according to Forest 500, a program of the GCP that ranks corporations and others according to their progress towards deforestation-free supply chains... The growing, trading, processing, and selling of these commodities accounts for nearly a trillion dollars in corporate revenues a year.

Under pressure from consumers and investors to decouple their supply chains from this destruction, some businesses have been promising to deliver deforestation-free supply chains... Did they know what they were getting into? To have any hope of achieving such a goal, they need to know how clean their supply chain is. But even large corporations keen to meet their pledges, like Unilever, admit they are ignorant about their own suppliers and what happens in the forests.

Not everyone will be convinced of such claims of ignorance. But Gardner insists it is so. Indonesia, for instance, has more than 2 million small landholders growing about 40 percent of its palm oil. In any case, he says that Trase was developed... to fill that data gap – for companies, but also for those that want to hold companies accountable. “Radical transparency,” Gardner calls it.

A number of NGOs have embarked on systematic efforts to track the ecological footprint of major commodity traders and processors... Optimists hope it may soon be the norm in the corporate world. Investors are demanding it because... “analysts increasingly see a positive correlation between sustainable performance and strong financial performance”... 


So what exactly is Trase trying to do? The aim is to map complex supply chains by tapping into publicly available data such as shipping bills of lading, corporate statements, and customs and tax records, along with information published by transport companies, warehouses, refiners, producers, and traders. The trick is then to overlay maps of the geography of production and trading with maps of the geography of deforestation. The guilty parties can then be named, and hopefully shamed into mending their ways.

The first supply chain to come under Trase’s microscope is Brazilian soy. Soy is one of the world’s most widely traded international commodities. Brazil produces around 30 percent of the global crop, and exported 73 million tons last year, more than any other country. In a world with fast-rising demand for meat and dairy products, soy is an essential source of feed for farm animals... But that level of data detail is not enough for anyone interested in the environmental impact of such trades. Some Brazilian soy is sustainably produced; most is not. Gardner wants to know the precise source of the commodity, and what happened on the land before soy was planted.

“The supply chain data is already there. We simply stitch it together... For example, port documents will detail that Cargill is exporting a shipment of soy that originated from Mato Grosso. With data sets on the ownership of soy silos in that state, we can bring in other trade data to narrow down the origin of the soy to a specific municipality.”

In all, Trase has tracked 320,000 unique soy supply chains in Brazil, involving more than 400 companies, dozens of ports, and hundreds of importers, all linked back to one of the 2000 or so municipalities that grow soy, and each with its unique ecological history. The data is still incomplete... “but we can now begin to link specific actors to deforestation. We go from having a supply chain for soy to a supply chain for deforestation”...  

For instance, Cargill and ADM, another major trader with a zero deforestation commitment, operate in municipalities where 72,400 hectares of deforestation is “linked specifically to soy expansion in the Cerrado,” according to Trase’s analysis. That does not necessarily mean they are responsible for that deforestation, but it raises questions about their role on the soy frontline. These are questions that, equipped with the new data, both NGOs and the corporations themselves can now ask.

Government regulators could also use such information in the future. The European Union is considering an Action Plan on Deforestation that would crack down on agricultural commodities implicated in deforestation from European markets. Adoption of this plan is urgent. Europe may have a reputation for caring about the environment, says Lake, “but our analysis shows that the EU’s deforestation footprint for soy in the Brazilian Cerrado is actually as big as that of China, which people talk about far more”...   

Next is beef. Forest 500, in its 2016 report, identified the cattle industry as still globally “the largest commodity driver of deforestation,” with only 16 percent of companies it surveyed having policies to avoid beef raised on recently deforested pastures. After that, Gardner will target palm oil... Malaysian palm oil companies are now expanding into Africa... If Trase can crack the supply chains of those companies, then maybe the forests of Africa can be saved.


http://e360.yale.edu/feature/tracking_commodities_to_save_world_forests_trase/3062/



Via Alexander J. Stein
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Choosing the right things to measure in agriculture

How do you “shift the focus from feeding people to nourishing them”? According to a recent short article in Nature, there are ten things to do, and one of the, fixing metrics, Take, for example, maize (corn).
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Sequence of the Sugar Pine Megagenome

Sequence of the Sugar Pine Megagenome | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
Until very recently, complete characterization of the megagenomes of conifers has remained elusive. The diploid genome of sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana Dougl.) has a highly repetitive, 31 billion bp genome. It is the largest genome sequenced and assembled to date, and the first from the subgenus Strobus, or white pines, a group that is notable for having the largest genomes among the pines. The genome represents a unique opportunity to investigate genome “obesity” in conifers and white pines. Comparative analysis of P. lambertiana and P. taeda L. reveals new insights on the conservation, age, and diversity of the highly abundant transposable elements, the primary factor determining genome size. Like most North American white pines, the principal pathogen of P. lambertiana is white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fischer ex Raben.). Identification of candidate genes for resistance to this pathogen is of great ecological importance. The genome sequence afforded us the opportunity to make substantial progress on locating the major dominant gene for simple resistance hypersensitive response, Cr1. We describe new markers and gene annotation that are both tightly linked to Cr1 in a mapping population, and associated with Cr1 in unrelated sugar pine individuals sampled throughout the species’ range, creating a solid foundation for future mapping. This genomic variation and annotated candidate genes characterized in our study of the Cr1 region are resources for future marker-assisted breeding efforts as well as for investigations of fundamental mechanisms of invasive disease and evolutionary response.

Via Francis Martin
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What’s threatening crops around the world?

What’s threatening crops around the world? | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
If you’re into the pests and diseases of wheat, soybean, potato, maize or rice you may want to consider taking the Global Crop Health Survey.
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A miracle rice anniversary timeline

A miracle rice anniversary timeline | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
IRRI is celebrating the 50th anniversary of IR8, one of the more important crop varieties ever produced by plant breeders, with a neat interactive timeline of the history of its development and impact.
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CBN Variety Showcase organizer gets podcast treatment

You remember our recent short blog post on the Culinary Breeding Network’s Variety Showcase? Well, you can now hear all about it on Jeremy’s latest Eat this Podcast, in which he talks to Lane Selman, the organizer.
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Re-establishing ICARDA’s genebank

Re-establishing ICARDA’s genebank | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
One of the reasons I’ve been a bit behind with my blogging in the past month or so is that I’ve been doing a lot of travelling.
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Smallholders are bigger than you imagine

Smallholders are bigger than you imagine | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
There’s an awful lot of talk about smallholder farmers and how they hold the keys to food security. Talk, but not a lot of solid data.
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Farmer-saved seeds: to sow or not to sow?

When a harvested material from a protected plant variety, such as seeds, is used for further sowing and cultivating, royalties need to be paid to the breeder of this protected variety.
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I’m with them

I’m with them | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
A very unrandom selection of participants at the latest Annual Genebanks Meeting of the CGIAR, which took place at the Australian Grains Genebank in Horsham and AgriBio, La Trobe University, Melbourne last week, and is the reason for our silence...
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A giant of seed conservation passes away

His work showed that long-term seed storage was not only feasible but also relatively inexpensive, and he played a key role in setting up and managing seed banks.
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Genebank accessions to restore old Romanian shirts

Genebank accessions to restore old Romanian shirts | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
The National Museum of the Romanian Peasant has a heritage textile collection, and the odd shirt and carpet understandably occasionally needs restoration.
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Plant breeding capacity building in Africa - Suza &al (2016) - Nature Climate Change

Improving food security requires development of farmer-preferred varieties that are more nutritious and adapted to specific agro-ecologies and changing climatic conditions... The time from initiating breeding for a trait to adoption of the resulting variety is 18 years – too long compared to the time frame in which climate models predict varietal characteristics will need to change. 


A number of interventions are suggested to improve the effectiveness of investment in varietal development, many of which require significant involvement by practical plant breeders with understanding of the seed business. However, the number of such breeders is limited. For example, in 30 SSA countries, the average is about 5 breeders per country to cover all crops, agro-ecological zones, and uses. Therefore, many additional plant breeders are needed... 


Collaborative projects focus on core competencies needed by industry-ready plant breeders, targeting increased rates of genetic gain by using modern tools: genomics, molecular markers, electronic data collection, data management and breeding pipeline optimization... Thesis projects focus on... food security issues of many priority African crops, concentrating on traits such as tolerance to drought, diseases and insects in addition to high yield... 


http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3139



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Biodiversity from Cancun to London

Biodiversity from Cancun to London | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
The 13th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in going on right now in Cancun, Mexico, and the theme is mainstreaming biodiversity for well-being.
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Pulse diversity in India measured, precisely

India had 65,209 varieties of pulses and beans. Know more about it.
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I’m with them

I’m with them | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
A very unrandom selection of participants at the latest Annual Genebanks Meeting of the CGIAR, which took place at the Australian Grains Genebank in Horsham and AgriBio, La Trobe University, Melbourne last week, and is the reason for our silence...
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A giant of seed conservation passes away

His work showed that long-term seed storage was not only feasible but also relatively inexpensive, and he played a key role in setting up and managing seed banks.
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Genebank accessions to restore old Romanian shirts

Genebank accessions to restore old Romanian shirts | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
The National Museum of the Romanian Peasant has a heritage textile collection, and the odd shirt and carpet understandably occasionally needs restoration.
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Coconuts in the news

Hot on the heels of my own short recent piece on the subject of the threats faced by coconuts, which took its inspiration from a Bloomberg article, comes a little note in The Atlantic, and a much fuller and better...
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Why mixtures do well

Why mixtures do well | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
I bring you a nice photo, and even nicer quote, from Salvatore Ceccarelli’s Facebook page today. Salvatore has blogged for us in the past about his work on variety mixtures.
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CNB Variety Showcase showcased

You need to get to the next CBN Variety Showcase. It’s a mix of public plant breeders, independent breeders, and farmers doing both complex breeding and simple improvements on older heirlooms – each of whom is paired with a chef.
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The perils of reduced diversity: animal edition

To the standard hymn-sheet of crop failures associated with genetic erosion we can now add an example from livestock.
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What’s threatening crops around the world?

What’s threatening crops around the world? | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
If you’re into the pests and diseases of wheat, soybean, potato, maize or rice you may want to consider taking the Global Crop Health Survey.
more...
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A miracle rice anniversary timeline

A miracle rice anniversary timeline | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
IRRI is celebrating the 50th anniversary of IR8, one of the more important crop varieties ever produced by plant breeders, with a neat interactive timeline of the history of its development and impact.
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Edible Insects Market Size 2016 – 2023

Edible Insects Market Size 2016 – 2023 | Agricultural Biodiversity | Scoop.it
Shift in focus towards adopting bug consumption for both human and animal is likely to drive global edible insects market. Increase in bugs consumption owing to growing health concerns and avoiding unhealthy foods may favor product demand. Bugs finds applications animal feed mainly in poultry and fish.
 
It is estimated that one hectare of land could produce at least 150 tons of insect protein per year. Eatable bug production may increase over the due course, particularly in U.S., UK, China, and Brazil. Consumer awareness regarding health benefits and rising application in food industry has led to increase in edible insects market growth. Climate change has a major role over desired product farming.

Via Ana C. Day
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