Pharmaceutical companies would need to compensate indigenous people for using their knowhow in creating new medicines
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Pharmaceutical companies would need to compensate indigenous people for using their knowhow in creating new medicines
I'd never hear the term biopiracy before this month, but this idea is this: companies from wealthy countries commercially develop the genetic resources of developing countries with local assistance but don't fairly compensate the local population. I never had the vocabulary to describe such a thing, but that is biopiracy in a nutshell and the EU is working to end that. It doesn't only impact the pharmaceutical companies but heavily impact the agricultural industries as well. Anyone in the developed world eating quinoa and kale 20 years ago? Being marketed as 'superfoods' has changed the global production systems but also impacted local indigenous food supplies (some are referring to this as food gentrification).
"One-third of the seafood Americans catch is sold abroad, but most of the seafood we eat here is imported and often of lower quality. Why? Author Paul Greenberg says it has to do with American tastes."
The United States exports the best-quality seafood that Americans catch, but import primarily low-grade aquacultural products. This is just one of the counter-intuitive issues withe U.S. fish consumption and production. This bizarre dynamic has cultural and economic explanations and this NPR podcast nicely explains these spatial patterns that are bound to frustrate those that advocate for locally sourced food productions.
Editor's note: This story is one in a series on a crisis in America's Breadbasket –the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer and its effects on a region that hel...
This isn't new, but it is a new development that the media is covering the issue that has been going on for decades. The Ogallala aquifer is the primary water source in an agricultural region from Texas to Nebraska in dry, but agriculturally productive states. The reason behind their agricultural success in the dry high plains is that more water is being extracted from the aquifer than is naturally being replenished. This is the obvious result of a human-environmental interaction where the individual actors are incentivized to deplete a communal resource.
China has long depended on the U.S. breadbasket, importing up to $26 billion in U.S. agricultural products yearly. But increasingly, Chinese investors aren’t just buying from farms abroad. They’re buying the farms.
Globalization is often described as a homogenizing force, but is also pairs together odd bed fellows. A small Utah town near the Colorado border, Jensen is now home to the largest Chinese-owned hay farm in the United States. Utah's climate is right for growing alfalfa, and China's growing cattle industry make this a natural global partnership. Large container ships come to the United States from China, and return fairly empty, making the transportation price relatively affordable. While this might make economic sense on a global scale, local water concerns in the west show that this isn't without it's problems. Water resources are scarce and many see this as a depletion of local water exported to China. Some states see this as a threat and are considering banning foreign ownership of farmland. This article shows the merging of various geographic themes: the global and local, the industrial and the agricultural, the human and the physical.
"The future of the nations will depend on the manner of how they feed themselves, wrote the French epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826. Almost 200 years later, how nations feed themselves has gotten a lot more complicated. That’s particularly true in the US, where food insecurity coexists with an obesity crisis, where fast food is everywhere and farmer’s markets are spreading, where foodies have never had more power and McDonald’s has never had more locations, and where the possibility of a barbecue-based civil war is always near. So here are 40 maps, charts, and graphs that show where our food comes from and how we eat it, with some drinking thrown in for good measure."
Occasionally these lists that say something like "40 maps that..." end up being an odd assortment of trivia that is interesting but not very instructive. Not so with this list that has carefully curated these maps and graphs in a sequential order that will enrich students' understanding of food production and consumption in the United States.
In Minnesota, ‘industrial’ operation shows effort to balance economic, environmental sustainability.
In the long run, a successful farmer needs to find a balance between economic and environmental sustainability. Some big farms are working towards that so the 'big-equals-bad' narrative about agriculture may be easy, but it doesn't tell the whole story about modern agriculture.
"Watch The Scarecrow, the companion film for Chipotle's new app-based game. Then download the free app at www.scarecrowgame.com and join the quest for whole sustainable food."
This video (and earlier videos in the same vein) is extremely risky business. These videos perfectly encapsulates the beliefs, values and ethics that underscore the organic farming movement and resonate with consumers. This is a key part of Chipotle's advertising campaign, food with integrity. Many within the agricultural industry are not amused, and as a group they are Chipotle's suppliers. “In general, this romanticized view of agriculture is not going to be able to feed the world,” said Tom Super who is the spokesman for the National Chicken Council. Many in the industry think that Chipotle pushing its values on consumers. See this article for more on the tension between Chipotle and agricultural suppliers.
Beautiful imagery at one scale tells an unsavory story at another.
The supercheap and palatable noodles help low-wage workers around the world get by, anthropologists argue in a new book. And rather than lament the ascendance of this highly processed food, they argue we should try to make it more nutritious.
Ramen is the most successful industrial food ever (100 billion serving yearly). This NPR article acts as a book review for The Noodle Narratives which explores the global impacts of this massively important food source. In developed countries, most food experts bemoan ramen's lack of nutritional value and see it as a symptom/cause of larger issues of unhealthy diets and obesity. At the global scale however, some anthropologists are seeing ramen as the 'proletariat hunger killer' as it becomes a staple of the undernourished in megacities and less developed countries, and the poor in .
Questions to Ponder: If the United States is only the 6th highest consumer of ramen, what does that say about the geogaphy of ramen? Why and how did a post-World War II Japanese food come to be so crucial to the diets of those in Papua New Guinea and Nigeria?
Lawmakers in Vermont are looking to regulate food labels so customers can know which products are made from genetically modified crops, but agricultural giants Monsanto say they will sue if the state follows through.
Questions to ponder: Why is Vermont the first state to make some headway in producing this type of legislation? Will other states follow suit? What would the economic impacts be if all places required labels on products that contain genetically modified organisms? How would that change the agricultural industry?
The packaging on the McDonald's fry box states, "Why are our fries the gold standard? Because only a select number of potato varieties make the cut. I'm lovin' it®" This is a message is primarily aimed at millions of individual consumers. As geographers who analyze systems, we can look at this message for meaning beyond taste and quality control in how it affect both urban and rural places. Given that McDonald's is the United States' largest purchaser of potatoes, what are the economic and agricultural implications for their fry selection on the market(s)? How does this impact farmers, consumers, competitors and other groups?
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Textbooks|
A rice enriched with beta-carotene promises to boost the health of poor children around the world. But critics say golden rice is also a clever PR move for a biotech industry driven by profits, not humanitarianism.
This is a great podcast that emphasizes various geographic themes including agriculture, development and economics. This new genetically-modified rice was designed to provide vitamin A (something no natural rice provides) to impoverished diets. Skeptics point out that the history of the industry shows that the goal is to enrich a select number of corporations while some are hailing this as a major advancement that will benefit the poor. Where people side on this is often ideological, so those that are firmly against genetically modified foods find the flaw in the plan and vice versa. What do you think? How might this change food production and consumption worldwide and at a local scale?
By adding artificial sweeteners to flavored milk, the dairy industry hopes to boost flagging consumption in schools.
Just what is in our food anyway? This scandal reveals how removed comsumers are from the production of the foods that they purchase. As these commodity chains become longer and more complex, food safety appears to take a back seat to profit margins.
So many articles about organic or genetically engineered foods are written with someone with a very defined position on the subject (much like abortion, gun control or other controversial topics). This article is an attempt to separate out the good the bad and the ugly regarding genetically engineered foods.
TED Talks Western countries throw out nearly half of their food, not because it’s inedible -- but because it doesn’t look appealing. Tristram Stuart delves into the shocking data of wasted food, calling for a more responsible use of global resources.
No one should be surprised that more developed societies are more wasteful societies. It is not just personal wasting of food at the house and restaurants that are the problem. Perfectly edible food is thrown out due to size (smaller than standards but perfectly normal), cosmetics (Bananas that are shaped 'funny') and costumer preference (discarded bread crust). This is an intriguing perpective on our consumptive culture, but it also is helpful in framing issues such as sustainability and human and environmental interactions in a technologically advanced societies that are often removed form the land where the food they eat originates.
The disaster underscores the need to diversify our crops.
AAG: The drought that has hammered much of the country has clearly illustrated the dangers that come with limited agricultural diversity, writes Macalester College geography professor William G. Moseley in this opinion piece. Federal subsidies have encouraged the growth of corn, but this crop is quite vulnerable to drought, Moseley writes. "A more diverse cropping landscape would mean viable farms, healthier diets and a steadier food system," he writes.
Robyn shares her personal story and how it inspired her current path as a "Real Food" evangelist. Grounded in a successful Wall Street career that was more i...
Robyn authored "The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It." A former Wall Street food industry analyst, Robyn brings insight, compassion and detailed analysis to her research into the impact that the global food system is having on the health of our children. As new proteins are engineered into our food supply to maximize profits for the food industry, childhood food allergies are on the rise. What are the connections between cancer and modern consumption patterns? The correlation is clearly there; is causation also present? How have the economics of agriculture shaped this situation? How will the future economics of agriculture reshape food production?
|Suggested by W. Robert de Jongh|
Nearly $1bn was spent last year buying wheat, sorghum and other products for the controversial US 'in-kind' food aid programmes. Over 40 companies sold food aid last year
But big agribusinesses are not the only ones winning US food aid contracts. Over 40 companies sold nearly 1.8m tonnes, or $1bn worth, of food aid last year.
Some have developed entirely new product lines, specifically to sell as overseas food aid. Others have fought to get their products on the list of eligible commodities, which includes items such as canned pink salmon and dehydrated potato flakes.
Didion, a private, family-owned company headquartered in Wisconsin, has developed a special line of corn-based food aid products. Last year it was the government’s top supplier of corn-soy blend, a fortified food of choice for the UN’s World Food Programme. What Crops are being donated? To which countries? From which companies? The answers lie in this interactive feature.
Americans eat more meat than almost anyone else in the world, but habits are starting to change. This may be in part because of health and environmental concerns. We explore some of the meat trends and changes in graphs and charts.
Often we hear about the dietary impact of meat consumption at the personal scale, but what are the environmental impacts of heavy meat consumption on a global scale? Even more telling than the podcast are the charts and infographics that are connected to this article. Not all meats have the same environmental impact (beef is much less environmentally efficient than chicken, pork or turkey). As globalization has spread, American cultural preferences have changed worldwide taste preferences. As the global population rises, the impact of meat consumption is now a major environmental concern.
Not long ago in a supermarket not so far away. Help fight the dark side of the farm. Rate the film, favorite the film, comment the film and subscribe to our ...
This is horribly cheesy and from an incredibly biased perspective, but it does embody how many see the organic movement (and is quite entertaining for old Star Wars buffs like me).
"As we've come to depend on a handful of commercial varieties of fruits and vegetables, thousands of heirloom varieties have disappeared. It's hard to know exactly how many have been lost over the past century, but a study conducted in 1983 by the Rural Advancement Foundation International gave a clue to the scope of the problem. It compared USDA listings of seed varieties sold by commercial U.S. seed houses in 1903 with those in the U.S. National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983. The survey, which included 66 crops, found that about 93 percent of the varieties had gone extinct. More up-to-date studies are needed."
To show the other side of the issue, include this minor, yet crucial part of the article: "A 30-year-old plant pathologist named Norman Borlaug traveled to Mexico in 1944 to help fight a stem rust epidemic that had caused widespread famine. Crossing different wheat varieties from all over the world, he arrived at a rust-resistant, high-yield hybrid that helped India and Pakistan nearly double their wheat production—and saved a billion people from starvation. This so-called green revolution helped introduce modern industrialized agriculture to the developing world."
This photoblog will also link you to a full article and video that explains how the American pork industry is supplying China's demand for protein as globalization forces (among others) has led the Chinese consumers to eat 10% more meat than they did just 5 years ago. WHat impact will this have on American agriculture? How to we explain fo the rise in meat demand in China?
UPDATE: The PBS episode "Food Machine" premiered on April 11th, 2012 on the series "America Revealed." Now the episode is available online.
"Over the past century, an American industrial revolution has given rise to the biggest, most productive food machine the world has ever known. In this episode, host Yul Kwon explores how this machine feeds nearly 300 million Americans every day. He discovers engineering marvels we’ve created by putting nature to work and takes a look at the costs of our insatiable appetite on our health and environment. For the first time in human history, less than 2% of the population can feed the other 98%."
"93% of Americans want the FDA to label genetically engineered foods. Watch the new video from Food, Inc. Filmmaker Robert Kenner to hear why we have the right to know what's in our food."
Clearly this video has a political agenda, but this is a pertinent video to show in an Agriculture unit. Many countries around the world require the labeling of genetically modified food products, while the United States (currently) does not.
For more on the organization that sponsored this video see: http://justlabelit.org/
For a Health blog about how this impacts nutrition, see: http://blogs.prevention.com/inspired-bites/2012/03/14/french-women-dont-eat-what/
For more on political action currently underway in the United States, see: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/03/55-congress-members-ask-fda-to-label-genetically-engineered-foods/