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Agriculture, Food Chain and Food Politics
Topic: Agriculture, Food Chain and Food Politics (Read 15064 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 »
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