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Agriculture, Food Chain and Food Politics
Topic: Agriculture, Food Chain and Food Politics (Read 16597 times)
Contaminated honey entering US from China, India,
Reply #50 on:
June 03, 2013, 05:24:07 AM »
Global Fish Prices leap to all-time high
Reply #51 on:
June 18, 2013, 02:09:39 PM »
Global fish prices leap to all-time high
By Emiko Terazono in London
Global fish prices have leapt to all-time highs as China’s growing appetite for high-end species from tuna to oysters runs up against lower catches.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s global fish price index, an industry benchmark that tracks the cost of wild and farmed seafood, hit a record high in May, up 15 per cent from a year ago and above the peak set in mid 2011.
“In the coming months, supply constraints for several important species are likely to keep world fish prices on the rise,” the Rome-based FAO has warned.
The changing Chinese diet has already boosted demand for grains and livestock feed. The same phenomenon is now under way in the seafood industry, where the total value of fish trade is expected to reach $130bn this year.
China is the world’s largest producer of farmed tilapia, but it is increasing imports of other types of fish such as salmon and shellfish.
The impact of this shift is important for more expensive shellfish products, for which China has become a leading market. The country’s oyster and mussel consumption is growing as much as 20 per cent a year, tightening the global market.
Oyster prices, which have more than doubled over the past three years, are expected to rise further in 2013 as supplies from France remain low due to a virus that has destroyed the country’s young stock.
Richard Haward, a seventh generation oysterman in Essex, northeast of London, said: “Demand from Hong Kong and China and a worldwide shortage of supplies has increased prices.”
Urbanisation and the advent of supermarkets is contributing to higher fish consumption in emerging markets.
Audun Lem, a fish expert at the FAO, said: “The product development, including ready meals and clean fillets really facilitates fish consumption.”
The jump in Asian demand has coincided with low supplies for several key species due to disease and high feeding costs in the aquaculture industry.
The cost of tuna, one of the most heavily traded fish species, has risen to a record high, up 12 per cent over the past year on strong sashimi and sushi demand, as well as from the canned tuna industry. This has coincided with smaller catches.
Shrimp, another heavily traded species, has seen prices up 22 per cent as supplies have been hit by a disease spreading in southeast Asia as well as by a fall in low wild harvests.
Salmon prices have surged 27 per cent over the past year, but are well below their record highs. The price of aquaculture production is expected to remain high as the industry battles with record feed costs. Fishmeal prices remain near a record high due to a sharp decline in supplies of anchovies, used to manufacture feed rations.
Reply #52 on:
July 24, 2013, 10:15:16 PM »
WSJ: Miller: Organic Farming is not sustainable
Reply #53 on:
May 16, 2014, 07:59:36 PM »
Organic Farming Is Not Sustainable
More labor with lower yields is a luxury only rich populations can afford.
By Henry I. Miller
May 15, 2014 6:49 p.m. ET
You may have noticed that the organic section of your local supermarket is growing. Advocates tout organic-food production—in everything from milk and coffee to meat and vegetables—as a "sustainable" way to feed the planet's expanding population. The Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group, goes so far as to say organic farming "has the potential to contribute to sustainable food security by improving nutrition intake and sustaining livelihoods in rural areas, while simultaneously reducing vulnerability to climate change and enhancing biodiversity." The evidence argues otherwise.
A study by the Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, published last year in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, found that "intensive organic agriculture relying on solid organic matter, such as composted manure that is implemented in the soil prior to planting as the sole fertilizer, resulted in significant down-leaching of nitrate" into groundwater. With many of the world's most fertile farming regions in the throes of drought, increased nitrate in groundwater is hardly a hallmark of sustainability.
Moreover, as agricultural scientist Steve Savage has documented on the Sustainablog website, wide-scale composting generates significant amounts of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Compost may also deposit pathogenic bacteria on or in food crops, which has led to more frequent occurrences of food poisoning in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Organic farming might work well for certain local environments on a small scale, but its farms produce far less food per unit of land and water than conventional ones. The low yields of organic agriculture—typically 20%-50% less than conventional agriculture—impose various stresses on farmland and especially on water consumption. A British meta-analysis published in the Journal of Environmental Management (2012) found that "ammonia emissions, nitrogen leaching and nitrous oxide emissions per product unit were higher from organic systems" than conventional farming systems, as were "land use, eutrophication potential and acidification potential per product unit."
Lower crop yields are inevitable given organic farming's systematic rejection of many advanced methods and technologies. If the scale of organic production were significantly increased, the lower yields would increase the pressure for the conversion of more land to farming and more water for irrigation, both of which are serious environmental issues.
© Hero Images/Corbis
Another limitation of organic production is that it disfavors the best approach to enhancing soil quality—namely, the minimization of soil disturbances such as tilling, combined with the use of cover crops. Both approaches help to limit soil erosion and the runoff of fertilizers and pesticides. Organic growers do frequently plant cover crops, but in the absence of effective herbicides, often they rely on tillage (or even labor-intensive hand weeding) for weed control.
One prevalent myth is that organic agriculture does not employ pesticides. Organic farming does use insecticides and fungicides to prevent predation of its crops. More than 20 chemicals (mostly containing copper and sulfur) are commonly used in the growing and processing of organic crops and are acceptable under U.S. organic rules. They include nicotine sulfate, which is extremely toxic to warm-blooded animals, and rotenone, which is moderately toxic to most mammals but so toxic to fish that it's widely used for the mass poisoning of unwanted fish populations during restocking projects.
Perhaps the most illogical and least sustainable aspect of organic farming in the long term is the exclusion of "genetically modified organisms," but only those that were modified with the most precise and predictable techniques such as gene splicing. Except for wild berries and wild mushrooms, virtually all the fruits, vegetables and grains in our diet have been genetically improved by one technique or another, often through what are called wide crosses, which move genes from one species or genus to another in ways that do not occur in nature. Therefore, the exclusion from organic agriculture of organisms simply because they were crafted with modern, superior techniques makes no sense. It also denies consumers of organic goods nutritionally improved foods, such as oils with enhanced levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
In recent decades, we have seen advances in agriculture that have been more environmentally friendly and sustainable than ever before. But they have resulted from science-based research and technological ingenuity by farmers, plant breeders and agribusiness companies, not from social elites opposed to modern insecticides, herbicides, genetic engineering and "industrial agriculture."
Dr. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, was the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology and is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
Chef Jamie Oliver knocks back McD's pink slime
Reply #54 on:
May 16, 2014, 09:09:54 PM »
Reply #55 on:
January 01, 2015, 11:12:23 AM »
I confess I am quite OK with this.
DEC. 31, 2014
The most significant animal welfare law in recent history — California’s Prop 2 — takes effect today. The measure, which passed by a landslide vote in 2008, requires egg and some meat producers to confine their animals in far more humane conditions than they did before. No longer will baby calves (veal) or gestational pigs be kept in crates so small they cannot turn around and, perhaps more significantly, egg-laying hens may not be held in “battery” cages that prevent them from spreading their wings.
The regulations don’t affect only hens kept in California. In 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that extended the protections of Prop 2 to out-of-state birds: You cannot sell an egg in California from a hen kept in extreme confinement anywhere. For an industry that has been able to do pretty much what it wants, this is a big deal: It bans some of the most egregious practices.
Does limiting confinement for hens mean the end of cages? Maybe. It might become impractical for growers to build bigger cages; that is, it might be easier simply to keep hens in groups that meet the new minimum area required per bird, and so keep the hens “cage free.” That’s not a panacea, but it is an improvement.
The new minimum is not specified in numbers, but the courts have said that it “establishes a clear test that any law enforcement officer can apply, and that test does not require the law enforcement officer to have the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation.” Hens must be able to spread their wings without touching a cage or another bird.
There is, however, another new state regulation — the so-called shell egg food safety regulation, aimed at reducing salmonella — enacted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. This requires a minimum of 116 square inches per bird, compared with the current 67 square inches, which is less space than an 8-by-10 photo, and just a tad more than a standard iPad.
Prop 2 trumps this rule, and birds probably need more than 116 square inches to spread their wings. In fact, many experts think something closer to 200 square inches is more realistic. But some farmers may think they can get away with 116; law enforcement will determine whether they’re right, and noncompliance is a criminal offense.
The new regulations will probably raise the price of eggs. Surprisingly, as producers in California switch production systems to comply with the new law, eggs raised by so-called conventional means sometimes cost more than cage-free eggs. This belies the arguments that the conversion process is difficult or prohibitively expensive; it just shows that many producers failed to take advantage of the five years between the extension of the new housing standards to all birds, and its taking effect, to adequately prepare. What have they been doing instead? Predictably, filing lawsuits fighting Prop 2, all of which have failed.
That Prop 2 is supported by a majority of people in the country’s biggest ag state, and that its legitimacy has been supported by courts, shows the direction in which the raising of animals is headed. Gestation crates are on their way out, and battery cages will soon join them. With this measure, the table is set for similar action in states all over the country.
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“We’ve worked on passing anti-confinement laws in 10 states now,” says Paul Shapiro, a spokesperson at the Humane Society of the United States. At least three other states are to take up similar legislation in 2015.
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All for it - but worried about higher-priced eggs too. If you want poor people to cook at home more, remember that eggs are the cheapest...
Now we need to protect the people who work to supply us with food and continue the march to treat animals (and plants) as fellow inhabitants...
This is good news, and long overdue. Society has been beyond oblivious to the danger that modern animal farming has been posing for...
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The most important part of the new law may be that every whole egg sold in California must adhere to the standards set by Prop 2, regardless of where it’s from. And since California can’t raise all the eggs eaten by its citizens, millions of those eggs — perhaps as many as a third consumed in the state — will come from elsewhere. From Iowa, for example, where more than 14 billion eggs are produced each year. (Interesting: There are just over 3 million people in Iowa, and nearly 60 million laying hens.) There has been talk of shortages, but they would be short-lived.
So, in California, just as you had to meet higher emission standards than required by federal law if you wanted to sell cars, now you must meet higher welfare standards for hens if you want to sell eggs. Whether farmers comply, or disobey, or leave the business remains to be seen. But Prop 2 means a new norm; eventually it will be, well, normal.
Just how high are the standards set by Prop 2? “By itself, the law means that many millions of animals will no longer be held in cramped cages, and that’s huge,” says Mr. Shapiro. “But the message it sends to the factory farming industry is clear: Business as usual — that is, subjecting animals to torturous conditions for their entire lives — is no longer going to be acceptable.”
EU seeking to control all seeds?!?
Reply #56 on:
January 04, 2015, 09:35:58 PM »
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