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The Non-Controversy Surrounding Local Food

The Non-Controversy Surrounding Local Food | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Farmers' markets have figuratively replaced the town square, something we have lost over the last decades due to sprawl and urbanization. In many communities around the country, farmers' markets are where we chat with neighbors, make new connections and find out about the issues at play in our communities. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are 7864 farmers' markets operating today -- a 348% increase since 1994. Clearly they are providing value to the American public.

 

The pace of modern American life is such that we want -- maybe even need -- to boil complex issues down to essential truths. Yet isolating a few specific factors and extrapolating solely from these to proclaim that local food is not eco-friendly, or not a viable solution, is irresponsible. This is not to say that measuring a single issue like carbon emissions as it relates to food production and transportation is not important; it is vitally important.

 

But, there are many more factors at play -- some very tangible, some less so -- in evaluating the importance of local food. We are literally losing ground in this country, and the role that local food plays in ensuring we are preserving and protecting that ground -- and the communities built on it, the lives lived on it -- should no longer be up for debate.

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Overwhelming majority of Germans contaminated by glyphosate

Overwhelming majority of Germans contaminated by glyphosate | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A worrying three-quarters of the German population have in fact been contaminated by the controversial herbicide, according to a study carried out by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The report analysed glyphosate residue in urine and it concluded that 75% of the target group displayed levels that were five times higher than the legal limit of drinking water. A third of the population even showed levels that were between ten and 42 times higher than what is normally permissible.


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15 years on, our love affair with food is deepening...so are our problems

15 years on, our love affair with food is deepening...so are our problems | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

We’re more aware than ever of the costs of intensive farming: terrible for animal welfare, but also bad for us. Intensively reared chickens are three times higher in fat than 30 years ago; three quarters of supermarket chicken carry the potentially lethal bug campylobacter; and overuse of antibiotics on livestock threatens the effectiveness of antibiotics for human use. We import green beans from Kenya and asparagus from Peru at huge cost to the environment.

All-powerful supermarkets reject vast amounts of imperfect-looking produce from farmers generating vast amounts of food waste, and well-intentioned fishing quotas have led to thousands of tonnes of dead fish being dumped back in the sea. There is a strong link between increasing levels of fat, salt and sugar in processed foods and ballooning obesity levels, particularly among children. But while our awareness of these issues has grown, progress in addressing them has been much slower.

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New Evidence About the Dangers of Monsanto’s Roundup

New Evidence About the Dangers of Monsanto’s Roundup | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Until recently, the fight over Roundup has mostly focused on its active ingredient, glyphosate. But mounting evidence, including one study published in February, shows it’s not only glyphosate that’s dangerous, but also chemicals listed as “inert ingredients” in some formulations of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers.


Though they have been in herbicides — and our environment — for decades, these chemicals have evaded scientific scrutiny and regulation in large part because the companies that make and use them have concealed their identity as trade secrets.

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Sticky fingers: The rise of the bee thieves | Brett Murphy

Sticky fingers: The rise of the bee thieves | Brett Murphy | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
These are strange times for the American beekeeper. In California, the centre of the industry, members of this tight-knit community find themselves enjoying an economic boom while trying to cope with environmental turmoil.

And now they’re dealing with a new kind of criminal: the bee rustler. Every year, at the height of pollination season in the spring, dozens of nighttime thieves – nobody knows exactly how many – break into bee yards all over California to steal hives.
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Agricultural emissions 'reality check' - BBC News

Agricultural emissions 'reality check' - BBC News | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A new report says that global agricultural emissions must be slashed to prevent the planet warming by more than 2C over the next century.


The current focus is on reducing emissions from transport and energy. But an international team of scientists argues that if farm-related emissions aren't tackled then the Paris climate targets will be breached.


An estimated one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture.

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Ministers reject plan for 'emergency' use of banned bee-harming pesticides

Ministers reject plan for 'emergency' use of banned bee-harming pesticides | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Ministers have rejected an “emergency” application from the National Farmers Union (NFU) to use banned pesticides on a third of all oilseed rape crops.


Neonicotinoid pesticides have been shown to be harmful to bees and were banned from use on flowering crops by the EU in 2013, a move opposed by the UK government. But ministers granted a temporary lifting of the ban in 2015 after the NFU argued it was needed to fight the cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB).


However the government’s scientific advisers said this year’s application, from the NFU and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, should not be granted. Farming minister George Eustice then rejected the plan, the first time the government has ruled against neonicotinoid use.

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Too much of a good thing

Too much of a good thing | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Antibiotics have transformed human health and saved millions of lives. Now, as a result of overuse, they are no longer working. The golden age of medicine has come to an end. ...


A decision is expected shortly on Midland Pig’s so-called Foston Mega Farm, which will house 25,000 intensively reared indoor pigs, making it one of the largest in Europe. The proposal has attracted huge opposition, with more than 20,000 letters from across the world. Pig welfare is, of course, an emotive issue. But campaigners insist that something greater is at stake here - something that the Chief Medical Officer has referred to as one of the greatest threats of the 21st century, alongside terrorism and climate change, and which this spring, is expected to be placed on the national risk register. Such farms rely on the use of antibiotics for sick animals, but as we rush to produce industrial quantities of ever cheaper food, we have sleepwalked into a human health crisis.

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Total ban on GM food production mulled in Russia

Total ban on GM food production mulled in Russia | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A group of Russian MPs have prepared a bill severely restricting imports of genetically modified agricultural produce, and completely banning its domestic production.

 

The initiative is backed by Evgeny Fyodorov of the parliamentary majority United Russia and a group called Russian Sovereignty, which unites MPs from various parties and parliamentary factions.

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Which? sparks controversy by telling gardeners not to bother growing plants in peat-free compost

Which? sparks controversy by telling gardeners not to bother growing plants in peat-free compost | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

While peat is regarded as an excellent compost for growing, British farmers and gardeners are using it 200 times faster than it is being formed, through the gradual decay of vegetation in moorland, according to the Soil Association. Peat mining contributes to the equivalent carbon emissions of 100,000 households a year.

 

Peat is discouraged as a growing medium by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, while the Royal Horticultural Society and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs both recommend that gardeners use peat-free alternatives, making the Which? recommendations all the more controversial. This weekend marks the start of the sowing season under cover for many gardeners.

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Renewables: Reaping the benefits of farming in harmony with solar power | Features | Farmers Guardian

Renewables: Reaping the benefits of farming in harmony with solar power | Features | Farmers Guardian | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

WITH a five megawatt solar farm in operation on his land - enough to meet the electricity needs of 1,500 homes – Clive Sage is one of a new generation of renewable energy farmers who have made the most of recent commercial interest in leasing farmland to generate solar power.

 

Not that Mr Sage, who farms 100 hectares (250 acres), with about 550 ewes and 60 cattle, would want to be known as a solar farmer. Twenty-five years ago he owned little or no land of his own and was shearing sheep.

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London bee summit: pesticides or no pesticides?

London bee summit: pesticides or no pesticides? | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

In London last Friday, research scientists, chemical industry representatives, and journalists gathered for an open discussion session that concluded a three-day summit about the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on honeybees. The result was a rich debate about the future use of these chemicals in agriculture, and implications for food production. But the efforts by some industry representatives to oversimplify the issue gave an otherwise intricate discussion the aura of a highly polarised one.

 

Neonicotinoids, which are widely used in Europe and America, are applied as a coating on seeds of crops like oilseed rape, maize, and sunflowers before they are planted, in this way protecting the plant from the start. But since this class of chemicals was linked with a decline in honey- and bumblebee health in 2012, followed by The European Commission's imposed restrictions on specific uses of neonicontinoids soon after, they have been recognised more for the controversy they are associated with than anything else.

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Pesticide linked to Alzheimer's

Pesticide linked to Alzheimer's | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Exposure to a once widely used pesticide, DDT, may increase the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease, suggest US researchers.

 

A study, published in JAMA Neurology, showed patients with Alzheimer's had four times the levels of DDT lingering in the body than healthy people.

 

Some countries still use the pesticide to control malaria.

 

Alzheimer's Research UK said more evidence was needed to prove DDT had a role in dementia.

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Farming News - Green Week: GM debate revived across Europe

Farming News - Green Week: GM debate revived across Europe | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Delegates gathered for the Green Week agricultural show and policy event in Berlin have clashed over whether genetically modified crops have a part to play in reducing hunger and farming's environmental impacts. Meanwhile, the UK's embattled environment secretary has made a controversial speech about GM in Brussels, continuing on his resolutely pro-GM message.

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Peruvian farmers harvest water from fog

Peruvian farmers harvest water from fog | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Using 'Atrapanieblas'—large nets erected on the hillside—farmers like Maria Teresa Avalos Cucho take advantage of the daily fog to capture condensation, harvesting between 200 and 400 liters a day from each panel—which is then stored in tanks, and gravity-fed to the crops below.

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Food Company Offers a Carrot to Farmers Considering Organic Certification

Food Company Offers a Carrot to Farmers Considering Organic Certification | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Food manufacturers that rely on organic ingredients are increasingly taking supply challenges into their own hands. In 2015, Nature’s Path Foods paid $2 million for 2,800 acres of cropland to grow organic grains, The Wall Street Journal reported.


Now, Kashi, another organic food manufacturer, wants to grow the organics industry as a whole through a program that will make it easier for farmers to transition from conventional agriculture—and give them both credit and a price premium for starting the shift.

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Farming UK News - Caged and barn eggs could disappear from UK shelves within 10 years

Farming UK News - Caged and barn eggs could disappear from UK shelves within 10 years | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The eggs on Britain’s supermarket shelves could be completely free range within 10 to 15 years if the change in the market continues at its current rate.


That is the view of Tom Willings, former agriculture director with Noble Foods, now a freelance consultant, although still working for Noble.


Mr Willings told those attending the Pig and Poultry Fair at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire that demand for cage and barn eggs was continuing to fall whilst demand for free range was increasing.

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France leading opposition to glyphosate

France leading opposition to glyphosate | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The EU’s decision to postpone the decision on the reauthorisation of the weedkiller glyphosate has been highly controversial, but nowhere is opposition to the chemical stronger than in France. EurActiv France reports.

After delaying its decision on the reauthorisation of glyphosate in March, the Commission has once again postponed judgement, amid heavy lobbying from both sides of the argument.

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Australia GM crops row goes to court

Australia GM crops row goes to court | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

An Australian farmer is suing his neighbour after his farm was allegedly contaminated by genetically modified (GM) crops from the neighbour's farm.

 

Steve Marsh said he lost organic certification on 70% of his farm after GM canola seeds blew over from Michael Baxter's farm in 2010.

 

Mr Baxter's lawyers say the organic certifying body has unreasonable standards.

 

The trial has been described as a test case for farmers' rights.

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Farming News - Farmer-led research challenges industry neonicotinoid claims

Farming News - Farmer-led research challenges industry neonicotinoid claims | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A Lincolnshire arable farmer has undertaken a cost analysis of the newly introduced EU restrictions on neonicotinoid seed treatments.

 

A 'partial ban' on neonicotinoid seed treatments was introduced last year by the European Commission in response to mounting evidence suggesting certain neonicotinoid pesticides pose a threat to bees. The new measures came into force in December.

 

Pesticide manufacturers, who are currently challenging the restrictions in court, claim the commission's partial ban will cost farmers in Europe dearly, though evidence from France and Italy, where the products have been subject to tighter restrictions for years, suggests otherwise.

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Organic farms boast 50 per cent more wildlife | News | Farmers Guardian

Organic farms boast 50 per cent more wildlife | News | Farmers Guardian | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

ORGANIC farms support more plant, animal and insect species than conventional farms, scientists from Oxford University have found.

 

Researchers who looked at data spanning 30 years said the number of different pollinator species such as bees were 50 per cent higher on organic farms.

 

“Our study has shown that organic farming, as an alternative to conventional farming, can yield significant long-term benefits for biodiversity,” said Sean Tuck of Oxford University’s Department of Plant Sciences, lead author of the study.

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Abel & Cole enjoys fruits as organic appetite returns

Abel & Cole enjoys fruits as organic appetite returns | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The fashion for having boxes of organic fruit and vegetables delivered to your door has bounced back, according to food campaigners, but the recession pushed smaller firms to the brink.


Organic food group The Soil Association said a third year of strong growth in the sector was dominated by two firms that deliver nationwide – Abel & Cole and Riverford – while more local businesses are seeing sales fall. 


Abel & Cole, which came close to collapse when recession struck its food-conscious customers, has released results showing it has emerged from huge debts to record a rise in turnover.

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MEPs vote against EU seed Regulation

MEPs vote against EU seed Regulation | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

MEPs have voted against a proposed EU sed regulation that would further concentrate the seed market and discriminate against genetically diverse traditional seeds

 

"EU seed policies must be based on the principle of diversity, not corporate uniformity and tailoring seed to be dependent on agro-chemical inputs." 

 

The European Parliament's Environment Committee has voted for the Commission to withdraw its proposal for a Regulation on agricultural seeds and other plant reproductive material.

 

They rejected the Regulation - with a decisive 46-4 vote - because it would concentrate power among just five companies that dominate the seed market, and discriminate against non-industrial traditional plant varieties rich in genetic diversity.

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Australian trade beats aid in boosting global food security

Australian trade beats aid in boosting global food security | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Should Australia aim to become Asia’s “food bowl”? How can we help farmers earn more for what they produce? And how can Australia best contribute to global food security?

 

Those are some of the crucial questions now being considered in the federal government’slong-term agriculture policy, which is expected to be released towards the end of this year.

 

I believe our future lies in playing to our strengths. The Australian agricultural business model should not be to produce cheap food for the world’s poor, but rather expensive food for rich, largely Asian, consumers.

 

That doesn’t mean neglecting our responsibilities to help poorer nations or to support global food security. However, this is best done through trade - such as providing technical advice and assistance - to help improve food self-sufficiency in developing countries.

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Horsepower - the future of farming?

Horsepower - the future of farming? | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A radical experiment in community supported agriculture is attempting to break farming's reliance on fossil fuels and unsustainable practices. Andrew Wasley met green farmer Ed Hamer for this exclusive extract from The Ecologist Guide To Food.
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China could lose millions of hectares of farmland to pollution

China could lose millions of hectares of farmland to pollution | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Millions of hectares of agricultural land in China could be withdrawn from production because of severe heavy-metal pollution, according to a Chinese agriculture official.

 

Chex Xiwen, the deputy director of China’s top agricultural authority said that farmland near rivers, especially which are sources of drinking water, will also be taken out of production if there is a risk of pollution from the use of fertilisers and pesticides.

 

The warning follows comments by the vice minister of land and resources in December, who said that an estimated 3.3 million hectares of land is polluted, most of which is in regions that produce grain.

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