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Reaping what we sow
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INDIA Makes Labeling Genetically Engineered Food Mandatory

INDIA Makes Labeling Genetically Engineered Food Mandatory | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Consumers in India can now make “informed choice” on whether they want to buy packaged food products that are genetically modified or contain genetically modified ingredients.

 

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, in an extraordinary gazette notification, has made an amendment to make labelling of every package containing genetically modified food mandatory from January 1, 2013.

 

The move will impact the imported GM foods that are flooding the markets.

 

The notification published on June 5, 2012 says: “Every package containing the genetically modified food shall bear at the top of its principal display panel the words ‘GM.’”


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Trevor Herriot's Grass Notes: Stats Canada shows we are heading the wrong direction with Agriculture

Trevor Herriot's Grass Notes: Stats Canada shows we are heading the wrong direction with Agriculture | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Across Canada the number of farms dropped by 10.3% from 2006 to 2011. In the last five crop seasons, we lost 23,643 farms!!

 

That loss of farmers and farms was compensated for by big farmers getting even bigger. The average size of a Canadian farm increased 6.9% from 728 acres to 778 acres.

 

Sifting through the data for a silver lining, I couldn't find much, other than a modest increase in the percentage of Canadian farms that are organic. That figure rose from 1.5% of all farms in 2006 to 1.8% in 2011.

 

"Pasture land" and "woodland and wetland", the categories that allow wildlife to co-exist, both declined. The amount of woodland and wetland on Canada's farms declined by 8.8% in the five year window.

 

... these figures released by Stats Canada should wake us up to what is really happening on the public trust of our nation's farms. If we look at these figures with hearts that care about what happens to farmers and to farm community, about the quality of our food and the wellbeing of the native plants and animals who try to survive on Canadian farmland, we will see that we must start heading the other direction.

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Rio+20: The benefits of no-till farming | RTCC - Responding to ...

Rio+20: The benefits of no-till farming | RTCC - Responding to ... | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Bernhard Kiep, Vice President at New Holland Agriculture Latin America talks to Pavilion TV about the work the company is doing, focusing on sustainability to protect the land, respect the environment and still feeding the world.

 

He talks about the use of no-till farmer, which he says has both negative and major plus point in reducing the impact on the soil, keeping organic material in the soil, reducing water erosion and the temperature of the soil.

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Population growth and changing diets – what do they mean for the future? - Farming First

Population growth and changing diets – what do they mean for the future? - Farming First | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Food is a necessity and a basic need of human life. Yet, 925 million people do not have enough food to eat, leaving one in seven people hungry. And at the same.

 

Food is a necessity and a basic need of human life. Yet, 925 million people do not have enough food to eat, leaving one in seven people hungry. And at the same time, the global population is growing rapidly, predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050. The FAO has said that 70% more food will be needed by 2050 to meet this growing demand – the challenge we face is achieving this.


Earlier this month, the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) programme discussed a recent article on Global changes in diets and the consequences for land requirements for food by Thomas Kastner and co-authors.


By calculating and showing how our total calorie consumption is divided among different types of food, and how much land is required for each of these food types, the article paints a fascinating portrait of global nutritional diversity. A decomposition approach was used to quantify the contributions of the main drivers of cropland requirements for food: population changes, agricultural technology, and diet.

 

Results found that from 1961 to 2007, in most regions, yield increases were offset by a combination of population growth and dietary change. However, developing countries followed a different pattern, showing socioeconomic development, population growth decreases and, at the same time, richer diets.

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Americans unclear on the benefits of organics - Mother Nature Network

Americans unclear on the benefits of organics - Mother Nature Network | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Mother Nature NetworkAmericans unclear on the benefits of organicsMother Nature NetworkOverall, 45 percent of grocery shoppers never, or only rarely, seek out organic food items.

 

While they might be healthier, organic foods are being left on the supermarket shelves by nearly half of shoppers thanks to an overriding uncertainty over what the foods are and what benefits they may hold, a new poll shows.

 

Conducted by CouponCabin.com, the survey revealed nearly 10 percent of consumers simply don't understand what organic food items are, and 38 percent don't see their purpose.

 

Additionally, nearly one-third said they aren't sure if organic food is better for you than nonorganic. Overall, 45 percent of grocery shoppers never, or only rarely, seek out organic food items.

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Where do milk, eggs and bacon come from? One in three youths don't know - Telegraph

Where do milk, eggs and bacon come from? One in three youths don't know - Telegraph | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Fewer than half of young UK adults know butter comes from a dairy cow and a third do not know eggs come from hens, according to a survey.

 

More than a third of 16 to 23-year-olds (36%) do not know bacon comes from pigs and four in 10 (40%) failed to link milk with an image of a dairy cow, with 7% linking it to wheat, the poll of 2,000 people for charity Leaf (Linking Environment and Farming) found.


Some 41% correctly linked butter to a dairy cow, with 8% linking it to beef cattle, while 67% were able to link eggs to an image of a hen but 11% thought they came from wheat or maize.

 

"Despite what they think, young adults are clearly becoming removed from where their food comes from.


"Three in 10 adults born in the 1990s haven't visited a farm in more than 10 years, if at all, which is a real shame as our farmers not only play an important role in food production but are passionate about engaging and reconnecting consumers too."

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Demand for local fresh food is up in Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Demand for local fresh food is up in Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Post Gazette | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

In the past decade, growing consumer interest in buying local and buying fresh has fueled a rebuilding of a regional food supply infrastructure in Western Pennsylvania, which long ago outsourced the bulk of its produce purchases to corporate farms in states such as Florida and California.


New farmers markets have opened all over the region. Established farms are investing in projects to extend the growing season and allow them to supply major, local customers. Retailers and restaurants are touting local ingredients and products. And food hubs ranging from co-ops in the East End to a planned processing facility in Fayette County are helping distribute and, eventually, package local goods for broader consumption.

More opportunities could be sprouting, too. The federal government is retooling menu requirements for schools and an overhaul of agricultural legislation seems likely to include more incentives for things such as community food hubs to help farmers connect with companies and schools that might buy their goods.

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Organic Sector a Surging Component of Agricultural Economy

Organic Sector a Surging Component of Agricultural Economy | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A White House report noted that the U.S. organic industry grew by 9.5 percent overall in 2011 to reach $31.4 billion in sales, making it a noteworthy contributor to the American farm economy. A report, released by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) in April, shows the organic food industry generated more than five hundred thousand American jobs in 2010.


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Cereals 2012: GM corn - not a 'panacea' - 6/14/2012 - Farmers Weekly

Cereals 2012: GM corn - not a 'panacea' - 6/14/2012 - Farmers Weekly | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

“GM is a tool, it’s not a panacea,” Dan Basse told an audience at Cereals 2012. Mr Basse heads US commodities market information company AgResource and farms in Wisconsin.

 

He described GM corn yields as disappointing and said that the technology had increased yield by just 0.10%, with US corn yields following the same yield trend since 1961. “47% of the world corn crop is GM. Why have we not seen more of a yield kick is GM has done what it was supposed to do?

 

“This makes me mad – I’m paying extra for the seed but I’m not seeing the return. I’m not saying GM crops are good or bad – that’s just my experience. “We’re now back to using insecticides because root worms in corn have become resistant.”

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Switzerland’s habitats in the sky

Switzerland’s habitats in the sky | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
In Switzerland, practical and stunningly beautiful green rooftops serve to restore a piece of what architecture displaced.

 

In Basel, Switzerland's third most populous city, an eco-friendly hospital roof overlooks the Rhine River. In recent decades, architects, builders and city planners all across the planet have begun turning to green roofs not for their beauty — which is almost an afterthought — but for their practicality. In particular, plant-covered roofs in Switzerland are a common strategy for meeting the country’s robust environmental standards. ...

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Greek farmers rent patches of land to citydwellers in scheme to combat crisis

Greek farmers rent patches of land to citydwellers in scheme to combat crisis | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

In his day job, Dimitris Koutsolioutsos crunches numbers for his uncle's firm, which deals in jewellery and duty-free. In the early mornings and late evenings, he helps people become farmers. Not literally, but it does seem to be catching on.

 

The idea behind www.gineagrotis.gr (the name means 'Become a farmer') is straightforward: citydwellers rent a patch of land from a farmer, tell him what they would like grown on it, and get their own fresh vegetables delivered to them weekly. And unlike some services elsewhere, it costs them on average 70% less than at the supermarket or greengrocers.

 

The benefits to the farmer are considerable: he knows in advance what he has to plant, how much of it, and when to harvest. The crops can be grown at a discount, because the farmer knows he will sell all he grows, with no waste. And he gets a regular, guaranteed, stable income.

 

It works like this: customers go online, and state the size of plot they want (generally between 70m2 and 100m2, depending on the size of the household). At least a month in advance, they select the produce they want, choosing from a list of 10 summer and 10 winter vegetables.

 

The produce is then delivered weekly, on one of two pre-agreed days, and within 24 hours of being picked.

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Urban Agriculture | part five | Birmingham

Urban Agriculture | part five | Birmingham | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Birmingham is a huge conurbation but, within the urban sprawl, pockets of productive growth can be found.  In fact there are more allotments in this city than in any other UK local authority – 115 sites and almost 7,000 plots.  Alongside the allotment scene are scattered a few projects that are using urban food growing as a way of connecting with communities, ranging from kitchen gardens in school grounds to brand new veg plots in the city’s art quarter.

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Contaminated Soil or Clean Water? Which would you rather consume? | GooseOrganic.org

Contaminated Soil or Clean Water? Which would you rather consume? | GooseOrganic.org | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Some might tell you that it’s not as simple as this, but the difference between traditional farming and hydroponics growing is the choice between potentially contaminated soil and clean water.

 

A hydroponics growing system, on the other hand, is set up using clean water that stays self-contained in the system and never has to be contaminated by harmful pesticides or chemical seepage. Your fruits and vegetables won’t be growing in land once sprayed by DDT or other harmful poisons and there’s no chance that corrosion of underground storage tanks will leak petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents, or lead into your water supply. You, the grower, control the purity and quality of your crop yields. ...

 

DDT, a pesticide that nearly wiped out the American bald eagle population, was banned in the United States in 1973 and in theUnited Kingdom in 1984. The chemical’s in DDT have a soil half life estimated to be anywhere from six months to thirty years. In human metabolism that half life is believed to be six to ten years, but the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported in 2005 that nearly all the blood samples they tested in the US that year contained some traces of it – over thirty years after it was banned

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Replacing Toxic Products With Green Chemistry | ecotrope.opb.org

Replacing Toxic Products With Green Chemistry | ecotrope.opb.org | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Dr. Michael Wilson of the University of California – Berkeley, was the keynote speaker for the event, which drew about 80 people to the Ambridge Event Center.

 

The crux of the problem with toxic chemicals being used in products today, he said, is the lack of information about exactly which chemicals are going into which products.

 

Chemical production is growing 3 percent a year worldwide – faster than population growth. Meanwhile, more than 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants have been detected in umbilical blood, he said – including PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which were phased out of commercial use in 1976. And thousands of workers are injured or killed by exposure to toxic chemicals on the job.

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Which Baby Foods Contain the Most Pesticide Residue? - Mother Jones

Which Baby Foods Contain the Most Pesticide Residue? - Mother Jones | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Mother JonesWhich Baby Foods Contain the Most Pesticide Residue?

 

The EWG researchers also looked at USDA data on pesticide residues in baby food, and found disturbing information. In baby foods featuring green beans, 9.4 percent of samples tested positive for the organophosphate methamidiphos, and 7.8 percent of samples showed the organophosphate acephate.

 

And this:

Pears prepared as baby food showed significant and widespread contamination. Fully 92 percent of the pear samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue. Some 26 percent of the samples were tainted with 5 or more pesticides. Disturbingly, the pesticide iprodione, which EPA has categorized as a probable human carcinogen, was detected on three baby food pear samples. Iprodione is not registered with EPA for use on pears.

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Ontario Family Physicians Warn of Pesticide Dangers - Canada NewsWire (press release)

Ontario Family Physicians Warn of Pesticide Dangers - Canada NewsWire (press release) | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) is strongly recommending the public reduce their exposure to pesticides wherever possible, based on the findings of its second comprehensive review of research on the effects of pesticides on human health. Released today, this review shows associations between pesticide exposure and various neurological and respiratory diseases, as well as reproductive problems. Covering 142 studies, the review also demonstrates that children are particularly vulnerable to pesticide exposures that occur during pregnancy.

 

"Many of the health problems linked with pesticides are serious," said Dr. Margaret Sanborn, family physician, Assistant Clinical Professor at McMaster University, and one of the review's authors. "So it's important we continue to advocate for reducing exposure as the most effective approach."

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Urban Gardens: Cheaper than Therapy (And You Get Tomatoes)

Urban Gardens: Cheaper than Therapy (And You Get Tomatoes) | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

In his 1965 book Countryman, nature journalist Hal Borland deftly captured a sentiment shared by many home gardeners the world over. “Knowing trees,” he wrote, “I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” There is no arguing with this observation. Particularly when one is referring to crabgrass, and particularly when it has chosen to nestle cozily among the roots of one’s favorite rose bush.

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Jersey Beef - Ellerton - Yorkshire

Jersey Beef - Ellerton - Yorkshire | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Having seen the demise of the family dairy farm, brothers Paul and Robert Rose were determined to carry on the farming tradition, but in a more sustainable way - both environmentally and economically. Rosewood Farms was purchased in 2002 after 10yrs of farming rented land in the locality and is thought to be the first farm in the UK to use our pioneering High Intensity/Low Frequency (HILF) grazing system on a commercial basis.

 

This grazing system eliminates fertilisers, weedkillers, tractor work (oil) on our pastures, routine chemical worming and parasite control and grain feeding of the stock, which eliminates further tractor and chemical use on the arable land. Under this highly efficient system, most of the farm is fallow for 362 days a year, allowing wildlife to flourish undisturbed alongside maximum production.

 

We have always sold direct via mail order, cutting out all middlemen enabling us to get full value for our produce, and give our customers a supermarket-beating price.

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Latin America holds 42% of the world’s agriculture expansion potential

Latin America holds 42% of the world’s agriculture expansion potential | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Latin America is one of the few regions of the world where agriculture production can expand since it holds 42% of that potential globally, said Victor M. Villalobos Director General of the Inter American Institute for the Cooperation on Agriculture, IICA.

 

In an interview because of the 70th anniversary of IICA, Villalobos underlined that Latin America is a net exporter of food and plays an important role when addressing the challenge of increasing world food production so as to guarantee food security in the future.

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Montreal's public hearings on urban agriculture — City Farmer News

Montreal's public hearings on urban agriculture — City Farmer News | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

There has been an explosion in interest in urban agriculture in recent years, Sonia St. Laurent of the Outremont borough told the three-person panel that is running the hearings.

 

In fact, according to the Groupe de travail en agriculture urbaine, 51 per cent of people living in the Montreal region say a member of their household grows vegetables in their yard, on their balcony or on their roof.

 

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Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic Slideshow

Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic Slideshow | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The Dirty Dozen


When is organic produce worth the added cost, and when should you save some cash and go with conventional varieties? Check out which foods you should try to buy organic to reduce your pesticide exposure by 90%, according to the Environmental Working Group.

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Maryland land dispute prompts questions about the value of organic farmland

Maryland land dispute prompts questions about the value of organic farmland | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Nick’s Organic Farm is an anomaly in wealthy, suburban Potomac, where McMansions dominate the landscape, and its location has made it possible for Maravell to cultivate heirloom breeds of organic soy and corn seeds native to the Chesapeake Bay region. Corn seed is wind-pollinated, meaning organic varieties are easily contaminated by genetically modified pollen if grown anywhere near conventional farms. But Maravell’s farm is isolated, protected by a buffer of suburbia — an ideally situated piece of land that would be difficult to replace.

 

All this might explain why, when it became clear that Maravell would lose his lease, the surrounding community didn’t take it lightly. His landlord, the Montgomery County Board of Education, transferred the lease to the county, which then awarded a contract to a private developer to build soccer fields. The announcement — and subsequent findings that the county had violated the Open Meetings Act in handing the land over to developers without first soliciting public input — caused an uproar.

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How you can help build a new LOCAL food industry

How you can help build a new LOCAL food industry | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

We need a LOCAL food industry to replace the anti-social national food industry where supermarkets are charging consumers too much for food, but giving farmers too little to stay in business.


A local food industry will reconnect producer with consumer and encourage trade and communication. More people will eat seasonal produce and in so doing encourage further production. By cutting out the middle men and supply chain, food becomes cheaper and all the revenue stays in the local economy.

 

So far we have 7,000 producer/retailer icons on our map, all with a password to update their page including; video, photos, online shop, etc. We have 21,000 consumers receiving our postcode specific newsletter, and 440 producers in our online MarketPlace. We also have around 90 other websites hosting our map and MarketPlace.

 

... Start growing your own and sell any excess via your local Crop for the Shop outlet. If there isn’t one on your local map ask your local shop or post office to set up a table and print off our poster. They are then eligible to join BigBarn. (This concept has been a life saver for some small shops increasing their stock and becoming the centre of the community).

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Shell shelves Brazil biofuel plan

Shell shelves Brazil biofuel plan | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A biofuel venture set up by Shell in Brazil is to give up plans to buy sugar cane grown illegally in ancestral indigenous lands.

 

A biofuels company set up in Brazil by oil giant Shell has signed a landmark agreement giving up plans to buy sugar cane grown on indigenous lands.

 

The company, Raizen, was obtaining some of the raw material for ethanol from farmers who encroached on the lands of the Guarani tribe in Mato Grosso do Sul state. The deal comes after months of pressure by the Brazilian authorities.

 

Indigenous leaders have welcomed the agreement.

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Hormones in Dairy Wastewater Persist for Years

Hormones in Dairy Wastewater Persist for Years | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Research has shown that hormone concentrations in livestock wastes are 100 to 1,000 times higher than those emitted from human sewage treatment plants, and that large dairy farms are a primary source of estrogens in the environment. Studies have also detected estrogenic hormones in soil and nearby watersheds after dairy wastewater was used to fertilize crops.

 

Lead researcher Wei Zheng explained: “These estrogens are present at levels that can affect the (reproductive functions of) aquatic animals.” He also noted that these estrogens can “feminize” aquatic animals, causing male fish to have low sperm counts or to develop female characteristics, thus undermining their ability to reproduce.

 

If unchecked, hormones in surface or groundwater could also begin contaminating our food and water supply. Zheng noted that these estrogens could easily be taken up by plants, thus entering the food chain.

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