The Barley Mow
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90 Percent of Corn Seeds Are Coated With Bayer's Bee-Decimating Pesticide

90 Percent of Corn Seeds Are Coated With Bayer's Bee-Decimating Pesticide | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

... "Bayer's neonicotinoid pesticides, which now coat upwards of 90 percent of US corn seeds and seeds of increasing portions of other major crops like soy, have emerged as a likely trigger for colony collapse disorder."

 

... What if a farmer wants to opt out, to plant seeds free of neonicotinoids? Good luck. According to a Pesticide Action Network press release I received today, farmers in the midwest are complaining that it's virtually impossible to buy untreated seeds. In other words, farmers there have two choices: either pay up for Bayer's poison, or exit the corn-growing business.

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Nature & More: Sowing Seeds for Bees

Nature & More: Sowing Seeds for Bees | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

This spring, Science Magazine published two articles claiming that neonicotinoid pesticides are at least partly responsible for the infamous Colony Collapse Disorder.

 

Nature & More, a Dutch-based international distributor of organic fruits and vegetables with an estimated 100 Million USD turnover, decided to take positive action. Assisted by several environmental NGO's, "The bees love organic " campaign was established. One of its goals is to distribute 400,000 free bags of organic flower seeds for bees in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Sweden and the Czech Republic; which will create over 400.000 square meters of bee flower pasture.

 

In the Netherlands, a popular 1000 km long cycle track along farms and countryside called the "Potato trail" is being transformed into a "Bee path".

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Insecticide resistance threatens malaria fight

Insecticide resistance threatens malaria fight | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Malaria-carrying mosquitoes in Africa and India are becoming resistant to insecticides, putting millions of lives at greater risk and threatening eradication efforts, health experts said on Tuesday.

 

While existing prevention measures such as mosquito nets treated with insecticide and indoor spraying are still effective, experts said tight surveillance and rapid response strategies were needed to prevent more resistance developing.

Despite decades of efforts to beat it with insecticides, bednets and combination drugs, malaria still kills more than 650,000 people a year, most of them babies and young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

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How soil and water conservation transformed the lives of people in a remote village - The case of Gulliyada village in Talavadi block of Erode district, Tamil Nadu | India Water Portal

How soil and water conservation transformed the lives of people in a remote village - The case of Gulliyada village in Talavadi block of Erode district, Tamil Nadu | India Water Portal | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Community building is important for an organisation to bring about any kind of positive change in a region. Sustainability of any programme depends upon how well it is received by the people concerned. For this, it is important that the locals are involved at all stages of the programme.

 

MYRADA has been instrumental in bringing locals together in an organised manner in the form of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and Water User Groups (WUGs), both here as well as in their other project areas.

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Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning in France

Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning in France | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A French court on Monday declared U.S. biotech giant Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning of a French farmer, a judgment that could lend weight to other health claims against pesticides.

 

In the first such case heard in court in France, grain grower Paul Francois, 47, says he suffered neurological problems including memory loss, headaches and stammering after inhaling Monsanto's Lasso weedkiller in 2004. He blames the agri-business giant for not providing adequate warnings on the product label.

 

The ruling was given by a court in Lyon, southeast France, which ordered an expert opinion of Francois's losses to establish the amount of damages.

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Peru's coffee growers turn carbon traders to save their farms from climate change

Peru's coffee growers turn carbon traders to save their farms from climate change | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Global warming threatens the future of Peru's poorest coffee farmers, but one brand thinks it has found an answer on the financial markets...

 

A report published today by the UK's leading ethical hot drinks brand Cafédirect (Cepicafe is one of its suppliers) warns that the effects of climate change on arabica production are likely to lead to worldwide shortages and an exodus from coffee growing by small-scale producers. However the company, which was formed 21 years ago to protect small-scale producers from poverty after the collapse of the coffee price, has come up with a potential game changer: a unique way of playing the carbon market to the advantage of the poor that will fund long-term strategies to adapt to climate change.

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Plastic Bags a Bigger Threat to India's Future Than Nuclear Weapons: Supreme Court Justices

Plastic Bags a Bigger Threat to India's Future Than Nuclear Weapons: Supreme Court Justices | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Unless India comes to terms with its plastic pollution problem, its rise on the global stage may be stunted.

 

Anyone that's spent any amount of time in India knows that plastic litter is everywhere and it's a growing problem—to the degree that if something's not done to stop it and remove the waste that's already there future archeologists could probably identify a site's age by its plastic layers.

 

The situation is so bad that, the Times of India reports, two Supreme Court justices have weighed in, saying plastic bags are a more serious threat to future generations than is posed by nuclear weapons.

 

It may be a bit of rhetorical flourish in terms of the immediacy of threat, but it's not entirely hyperbole.

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Chinese food security may be motivating investments in Africa

Chinese food security may be motivating investments in Africa | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Future need to import more food a possible influence in China's engagement with African agriculture, claims study...

 

Africa's population is expected to match or overtake China's by 2050, but the paper says China will soon need to develop deeper trade ties with key African countries to help feed its 1.3 billion population.

 

"China's current engagement in African agriculture is primarily aimed at addressing African food security," said the report. "[But] by investing in the region with the greatest agricultural potential, China could also be seeking to support its long-term food security."

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Using Tourism as a Tool for Sustaining Biodiversity Conservation | Wild Navigator

Using Tourism as a Tool for Sustaining Biodiversity Conservation | Wild Navigator | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Involving local communities in Initiatives that are sustaining, biodiversity wildlife conservation acts as a tool for tourism.

 

 

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Bugs in the System | Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Bugs in the System | Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Many ethanol producers routinely add antibiotics such as penicillin and erythromycin (both important for human health) and virginiamycin and tylosin (both have analogues used to treat humans) to the tanks where they mix corn mash with warm water to ferment ethanol. Bacterial outbreaks are common in ethanol plants (the bacteria like the warm, moist conditions and the corn sugar), and can lead to yield (and therefore profit) losses.

 

Antibiotics help keep bacterial counts low, but fuel isn’t the only product that leaves ethanol plants. Producers also sell what is known as “distillers grains” (DGS), the nutrient-rich, leftover corn mash, to cattle, dairy, swine and poultry producers for use as a livestock feed. In 2008 the FDA found antibiotic residues in DGS samples taken from ethanol plants across the country, results that have been confirmed by subsequent studies.

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Three Perspectives on the Status of Global Food Security

Three Perspectives on the Status of Global Food Security | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

On April 20, the Heinrich Böll Foundation hosted a meeting and discussion entitled, “Addressing the Global Food Crisis: Assessing Progress Since 2007.” Three speakers, Timothy Wise from Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute, Karen Hansen-Kuhn from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), and Neil Watkins from ActionAid USA, discussed whether on-the-ground progress has been made to provide greater food security around the world.

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Soil Association : Manufactured nitrogen

Soil Association : Manufactured nitrogen | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The use of manufactured nitrogen is not allowed in organic systems, so inputs of nitrogen come from nitrogen fixed by legumes, often clover leys, as part of a crop rotation that also controls pest and diseases. New evidence suggests that systems using this type of nitrogen behave differently in terms of nitrogen retention and loss, and a move away from manufactured nitrogen would also help mitigate the climate change impact of farming and guard against the increasing cost of artificial nitrogen.

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Declining biodiversity may contribute to rise in asthma, allergies

Declining biodiversity may contribute to rise in asthma, allergies | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Declining biodiversity may be contributing to the rise of asthma, allergies, and other chronic inflammatory diseases among people living in cities worldwide, a Finnish study suggests.

 

"Ilkka Hanski et al. from the Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, investigated whether reduced human contact with nature and biodiversity influences the composition of commensal skin bacteria and allergen sensitivity in a random sample of 118 teenagers living in eastern Finland. The authors found that subjects living on farms or near forests had more diverse bacteria on their skin and lower allergen sensitivity than individuals living in areas with less environmental biodiversity, such as urban areas or near bodies of water."

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Africa must end hunger to sustain growth

Africa must end hunger to sustain growth | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The report said investment in agricultural productivity was important not only for reducing hunger but also in creating jobs for Africa's rapidly growing population, which is predicted to double to 2 billion by 2050.

 

"The demographic dynamics in Africa present a huge opportunity for the continent. We have seen in many countries that this usually results in more rapid rates of economic growth," said Conceicao.

 

Agriculture could provide jobs for many young people. "If agriculture becomes much more effective and much more interesting in terms of utilising and drawing on the skills of youth in new technologies, it will attract a whole new generation of youth and it will create job opportunities," Levine said.

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Agricultural Pesticides in China

Agricultural Pesticides in China | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Insecticides to remain largest market, fungicides to grow fastest. Insecticides will remain the largest product type through 2015 despite a relatively slow growth rate of 3.7 percent per year. Established products will continue to dominate the market going forward while the trend toward using less-toxic insecticides will contribute to the slow rate of growth.

 

Herbicides will see strong growth in both shipments and demand through 2015, driven by a decrease in farming manpower and growth in export markets.

 

Fungicides will post the fastest growth as farmers contend with resilient fungal problems.

 

Pesticide active ingredient sales will advance 4.8 percent annually through 2015 to 765,000 metric tons. By weight, active ingredients comprised 26 percent of formulated pesticide shipments in 2010. Growth will be stimulated mainly by increasing exports of pesticide active ingredients, while heightened domestic production of formulated pesticides will further boost demand. 

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Kenyan TV show ploughs lone furrow in battle to improve rural livelihoods

Kenyan TV show ploughs lone furrow in battle to improve rural livelihoods | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Clar Ni Chonghaile: A reality TV programme is providing Kenya's farmers with vital tips; its creator wonders why rich countries aren't doing the same...

 

George Mungai is an unlikely TV star. The softly spoken farmer and father of six lives in a tidy compound of houses, all wood and corrugated iron, among the cool, misty hills outside Nairobi. But thanks to Shamba Shape-Up, a reality show that does for Kenyan farms what Extreme Makeover does for homes, Mungai is a minor celebrity here in Limuru.

 

"[The programme] has taught me to practise better farming," says Mungai, 54, during a break from filming on a damp May day. "I've learned to plant potatoes well … poultry keeping, dairy farming. It has almost doubled my yields."

Perhaps more importantly, Mungai has also become a teacher. His neighbours are always popping over, eager to learn his secrets so they can likewise boost their farming yields.

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allAfrica.com: Africa: Small-Scale Farmers Key to Africa's Agricultural Growth

allAfrica.com: Africa: Small-Scale Farmers Key to Africa's Agricultural Growth | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

 THE key to increasing agricultural productivity in Africa lies in transforming the small-scale farming sector, whose potential has remained dormant for a long time, the World Economic Forum on Africa concluded here on Friday. Although Africa has 60 percent of the world's potentially available arable land, it has failed to contribute significantly to global food demand, largely because of a constrained smallholder farmer.

 

With about 70 percent of the continent's population living in rural areas, it was critical that more resources be channelled towards improving their farming activities.

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Israel to ban insecticides that could cause neurological damage

Israel to ban insecticides that could cause neurological damage | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Health Ministry decides to reduce the number of pesticides permitted for use after studies show extended exposure causes neurological damage.

 

The committee decided that use of insecticides containing three types of organophosophate substances will be halted in two months, and use of other substances will be banned within two years.

 

The decision followed recent studies that showed that exposure to insecticides harms various systems in the body - especially the nervous system, which the organophosphates affect. Agricultural workers are the primary casualties of the substances, as are pregnant women living in agricultural areas.

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New study: Amish prove raw milk promotes health in children

New study: Amish prove raw milk promotes health in children | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

An international team of researchers recently confirmed that children who drink fresh milk–-unprocessed and unpasteurized-–have a better immune response to allergens and are far less likely to develop asthma.

 

Researchers from Indiana, Switzerland, and Germany ran surveys and tests on Swiss and US children aged 6-12 years and submitted their results to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology last month.

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Facing water shortages, Indian farmers dig in | Marketplace from American Public Media

Facing water shortages, Indian farmers dig in | Marketplace from American Public Media | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Fast-growing India is pumping itself dry. For the "water man," the solutions will come from the grassroots.

 

" ... But Singh knew nothing about water. So he asked the old man what he should do. And the old man told him he should do what folks here used to do -- build a little dam to catch the rainwater that comes during the short, but intense annual monsoon.

 

Singh: So I start digging! And kept digging -- for four years. Some day 6 hours, some day 8 hours, some day 12 hours. ... Rajendra Singh finally finished digging his pond just in time for the monsoon.

 

Singh: And my structure full with water. Not only did the pond fill up, but the wells nearby started to fill. The dam wasn't just storing the water on the surface; it was sending it back into the ground, recharging the aquifer. It was just one pond, about three-and-a-half acres, but it was greening 500 acres around it. People from neighboring villages came to see.

 

Singh: So the wonderful thing is, in the fifth year, more than 30 villages start the work. The next year, in 200 villages. Today, he says, more than 1,200 villages have built more than 10,000 rainwater harvesting structures over an area larger than the state of Delaware. Seven rivers that were dry most of the year are now flowing year-round. Farmers are back, there's plenty of food, and Rajendra Singh is the best-known figure in what's become a national grassroots rainwater harvesting movement.

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Unsustainable water use threatens agriculture, business and populations in China, India, Pakistan, South Africa and USA - global study | ReliefWeb

Unsustainable water use threatens agriculture, business and populations in China, India, Pakistan, South Africa and USA - global study | ReliefWeb | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The viability of water supplies throughout key regions of China, India, Pakistan, South Africa and the US are under threat from unsustainable domestic, agricultural and industrial demands, according to a new study that maps water use down to 10km⊃2; worldwide.

 

The growth economies of China and India, and the world’s largest economy USA are identified by risk analysis company Maplecroft, in its newly released Water Stress Index, as having vast geographical regions and sector areas where unsustainable water use is outstripping supply. Maplecroft’s states that the situation so serious, it has the potential to limit economic growth by constraining business activities, as well as hampering agricultural outputs. Resulting reductions in crop harvests in these countries will also negatively impact local food supplies and global food prices, while the socio-economic impacts of water shortages, especially in India and China, have the potential to create unrest and affect stability, as populations and business compete for dwindling supplies.

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India’s bumper crops of wheat rot in open fields due to lack of storage

India’s bumper crops of wheat rot in open fields due to lack of storage | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
NEW DELHI — In fields along a northern Indian highway, mountains of grain have turned black with mildew after getting soaked in the rain.

 

"The millions of tons of wheat rotting because India ran out of warehouse space to hold another bumper crop illustrate a core problem of the nation’s food crisis: India can grow plenty of food but cannot store or transport it well enough to nourish its 1.2 billion people.

 

Warehouses are overflowing and huge quantities of wheat and rice are stored in fields under tarpaulins and thin plastic sheets, risking decay."

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Forget Fuel, Algae Could Help Feed the World - Forbes

Forget Fuel, Algae Could Help Feed the World - Forbes | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

While the green chemistry potential of algae has been well-documented, what’s perhaps more interesting is the stuff’s potential to address looming food shortages. Comparing algae to soybeans, van der Meulen notes that the former has a year-round harvest and can produce 38 times more usable protein per acre per year than soy, using one percent of the water that crop needs. “Ultimately, we may not need fresh water at all,” he adds.

 

The resulting protein can be used in myriad food products and also as both animal and fish feed, which could make algae an important input for the aquaculture industry, which is predicted to grow from 80 million to 160 million tons of farmed fish in the next 20 years. Fish feed for aquaculture is currently made primarily of a fish meal, fish oil, soy and corn, all of which require far more water and energy inputs than algae. Aurora is also using its proprietary strain of algae to produce Omega 3 products for the nutraceutical market.

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Change Comes to Dinner: How Urban Farmers Are Changing Our Cities

Change Comes to Dinner: How Urban Farmers Are Changing Our Cities | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

As city dwellers across the U.S. develop an interest in fresher, more local, and more sustainable food, innovative methods of producing food in urban areas multiply. These enterprises take all forms, from nonprofit urban gardening programs serving low-income residents; to massive farm businesses restoring blighted city blocks; to high-tech aquaculture companies producing food on rooftops.

 

There are thousands of urban-ag projects of many kinds blooming in towns and cities all across the country and serving a variety of nutritional and social needs.

 

Organizations like City Slicker Farms in West Oakland, California, demonstrate the potential of urban agriculture to help correct an imbalance that has developed in many cities — that of fresh food’s availability in wealthier neighborhoods and relative paucity in inner-cities.

 

http://www.cityslickerfarms.org/

 

The organization maintains seven community market farms totaling less than an acre, which collectively produce 7,000 pounds of food a year to be sold at a central market stand to West Oaklanders at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition.


Via Rick Passo
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European Commission : CORDIS : Newsroom : Biodiversity loss a major threat to plant growth, researchers warn

European Commission : CORDIS : Newsroom : Biodiversity loss a major threat to plant growth, researchers warn | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

'Loss of biological diversity due to species extinctions is going to have major impacts on our planet, and we'd better prepare ourselves to deal with them,' explained one of the authors of the study, Professor Bradley Cardinale from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan in the United States. 'These extinctions may well rank as one of the top five drivers of global change.'

 

Since the early 1990s, researchers have identified the more productive role of biologically diverse ecosystems. Experts have become increasingly concerned that the growing rates of modern extinctions could weaken nature's ability to provide goods and services, including a stable climate, food and clean water.

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