The Ecologist


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Oxford Real Farming Conference 2016

27 November 2015

Taking place from 6th - 7th January 2016, this conference brings together sustainable food and farming movements to discuss global food systems and the policies that affect British farming. more...
Drought and deforestation have proved to be a volatile combination in Indonesia. Photo: David Gilbert / Greenpeace, Author provided.

As Indonesia burns, its government moves to increase forest destruction

William Laurance, James Cook University

24th November 2015

'No deforestation' pledges by global food corporations are yielding results, writes William Laurance. But now the Indonesian and Malaysian governments are calling on them to abandon their promises - even as the region's rainforests go up in smoke, cleared for new oil palm plantations. The companies must hold firm to their commitments. more...
Cows housed indoors at a UK mega-dairy. Photo: Andrew Wasley / Ecostorm.

The march of the industrial mega-dairy - is this the future of milk?

Andrew Wasley

23rd November 2015

As falling milk prices push dairy farm out of business, new mega-dairies and feedlot operations of 700 or more cows are filling the void, writes Andrew Wasley. Never mind the pollution, slurry lagoons, and heavy plant on country lanes - do we want the cows that produce our milk confined to sheds? And what's the future for traditional dairy farmers with small, well cared for herds? more...
Vanishing rainforest: soon more oil palm plantations. Seen on flight between Miri and Mulu, Sarawak, Malaysia. Photo: Bernard DUPONT via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Sustainable palm oil? RSPO's greenwashing and fraudulent audits exposed

Chris Lang / REDD Monitor

19th November 2015

A new investigation of palm oil plantations, companies and auditors has found that the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is failing to deliver on its promise, writes Chris Lang. Widespread fraud, collusion between auditors and companies, conflicts of interest, and a flawed complaints system mean that RSPO-certified palm oil may be destructively and illegally produced. more...
Dr. Mark VanGessel brandishing a Palmer's amaranth on a Delaware farm - one of the glyphosate-resistant superweeds that's pushing biotech companies to develop 'stacked' herbicide resistant traits in soybeans and other crops. Photo: Delaware Agriculture vi

Regulators and retailers must stop ‘next generation' GMO imports

Helen Wallace

20th November

A new wave of ‘next generation' GM crops resistant to multiple herbicides, may be approved for import into the European Union, writes Helen Wallace, even though the health impact of the herbicide combinations is unknown. Regulators and retailers must refuse to authorise these GMOs or allow their use in any part of the food chain. more...
There is another way: organic Borlotti beans from Sandy Lane Farm, Oxfordshire. Photo: Sandy Lane Farm via Facebook.

Health and biodiversity restored? How farming can rediscover its long-lost roots

Dave Goulson

16th November 2015

As industrial agriculture continues to erode our wildlife, Dave Goulson challenges the methods and objectives of ever-increasing food production. We need to move towards sustainable, evidence-based farming systems that produce healthy food, rather than allowing the agrochemical industry to reshape our farming, countryside and nutrition to its quest for profit. more...
Chafer Multidrive FC applying glyphosate and podstick to oilseed rape as a pre-harvest dessicant. Photo: Chafer Machinery via Flickr (CC BY).

Glyphosate - EFSA must make a full and open scientific assessment

Jorgo Riss, K. Jensen & F. Veillerette

6th November 2015

The European Food Safety Authority is about to decide on a re-authorisation of glyphosate, a 'probable carcinogen', based on unpublished industry studies. In this Open Letter to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, campaigners call on him to ensure an open, scientifically robust process - and to immediately restrict the herbicide. more...
Women in the Mustard Fields In Uaipur Mishrikh, Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo: Nitin Bhardwaj via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Rice, wheat, mustard ... India drives forward first GMO crops under veil of secrecy

Colin Todhunter & Oliver Tickell

3rd November 2015

Seventeen or more secret applications have been made to India's GMO regulators for trials and release of GM crops including rice, wheat, chickpeas, brinjal and mustard, write Colin Todhunter & Oliver Tickell. In a violation of the law regulators have released no information about the applications, raising fears that India's first GMOs will be released with no health, safety or environmental testing. more...
Hard at work on a small farm family in India. Photo:  Mukul Soni via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

The world must step off the chemical farming treadmill

Colin Todhunter

29th October 2015

Organic farming produces more nutritious food than chemical agriculture, writes Colin Todhunter, while sustaining soils and building organic matter. And we know this from real, peer-reviewed scientific studies - unlike the pseudo-science touted at us by the self-interested advocates of industrial agribusiness. more...
Even this could be called 'climate smart agriculture' - because the term is undefined. Oil palm plantations on deep peat in Indonesian Borneo. Photo: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

To keep carbon in the ground, COP21 must back agroecology

Pavlos Georgiadis

24th October 2015

'Climate Smart Agriculture' advocates were out in force at the just concluded climate talks in Bonn, writes Pavlos Georgiadis. But their finely crafted corporate message presents a real threat to genuine agroecological solutions to the interlinked food, farming and climate crises. more...
Pro-GMO philanthropist Bill Gates has been a big funder of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY - he even paid for its magnificent Gates Hall. But is Cornell's Alliance for Science performing a flip on GMO safety? Photo: Anne Ruthmann Photography via Flickr (CC

Surprise - Cornell is taking the GMO safety debate to a new level!

Steven M. Druker

19th October 2015

Something important just happened at Cornell's Alliance for Science, writes Steven M. Druker. Long known as a keen promoter of genetic engineering, the organization has experienced a profound change of direction. Its new director, Sarah Davidson Evanega, has opened an inclusive scientific dialogue on the safety of GMO crops. Who says it's all 'over'? more...
Cows near Dolwyddelan Castle in the Conwy Valley, Wales. Photo: George Frost / Gelephoto via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Britain's dairy crisis - we must account for real costs, and for true value

Megan Perry / Sustainable Food Trust

30th October 2015

The UK dairy industry is in crisis, writes Megan Perry, with falling prices forcing many farmers out of business. Smaller, more sustainable farms have been the worst casualties, while the large, intensive producers survive. We must ditch market-driven 'survival of the fittest' attitudes - and recognise both the real costs of intensification, and the true value of traditional farming. more...

food farming: 1/25 of 1031
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Kriss the croissant, a product of SPS Handel, Ostroleka, Poland. Photo: SPS Handel.

KRISS the croissant and our fatally fractured food chain

Julian Rose

13th October 2015

Industrial agriculture and industrial food processing have combined to produce something extraordinary, writes Julian Rose: 'KRISS the unrecognisable croissant'. Just don't make the mistake of confusing it with food. Devoid of nutrition, laced with hydrogenated oil and a long list of artificial ingredients, if you care about your own health and that of our planet - give KRISS a miss! more...
Members of the Womens' Collective of Tamil Nadu in a forest area where they are growing fruits and vegetables. Photo: WhyHunger.

Agroecology leading the fight against India's Green Revolution

Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau

29th September 2015

For the women farmers of Tamil Nadu life has long been a struggle, Sheelu Francis told Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau, all the more so following the advent of 'Green Revolution' industrial agriculture. So now women's collectives are organising to restore traditional foods and farming methods, resulting in lower costs, higher yields, improved nutrition, and a rekindling of native Tamil culture. more...
No GMOs here. The harvest is in on this farm in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Photo: Gordon Robertson via Flickr (CC BY).

We scientists welcome Scotland's GM-free status

The undersigned 30 scientists and specialists

4th September 2015

Scotland's decision to maintain its GM-free status is in the best interests of the country, its people and its farmers, 30 scientists write to Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead. It is abundantly justified by the scientific evidence and will support the sustainable, agroecological farming systems of the future. more...
A pre-harvest spray, probably of a glyphosate-based weed-killer, is applied to an oilseed rape (canola) crop in Occold, Norfolk. Photo: Tim Parkinson via Flickr (CC BY).

Keep glyphosate out of our food!

Peter Melchett

3rd September 2015

Following scientific confirmation of the severe hazards to health caused by residues of glyphosate weed killers in food, the Soil Association is calling on bakers and retailers to stop 'pre-harvest' spraying on arable crops. The SA's Peter Melchett just sent out this letter - adapt as necessary and send to retailers, bakers, makers of cereals, pasta, biscuits and others. more...
Farmers take part in 'Milk Bucket Challenge' amid dairy crisis, 18th August 2015. Photo: still from video by The Vale Veterinary Group.

The perfect pinta vs. the TTIP trade tanker

Vicki Hird

20th August 2015

Britain's dairy farmers have been having a hard time, writes Vicki Hird, largely thanks to their exposure to an unregulated, unstable, global food market. But if the EU's TTIP 'trade deal' with the US is ever signed, pitting UK dairy farmers against zero-welfare US mega-dairies run on hormones and antibiotics, they won't have a chance. more...
It's not just the cows that are being milked. A small dairy farm in Adber, Dorset. Photo: Elliott Brown via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Government and NFU betray Britain's dairy farmers

Simon Fairlie / The Land

15th August 2015

Just as the banks are 'too big to fail', so Britain's struggling dairy farmers are 'too small to save', writes Simon Fairlie. And it's not just the government that's happy to see 16 dairy farms go the wall every week - it's also the National Farmers Union to which most pay their dues. The NFU's paradoxical response to the milk glut is to push for ever higher, more intensive milk production. more...
Now protected against GMO contamination: fields of seed potatoes growing in Perthshire, Scotland. Photo: Matt Cartney / Agriculture, Food and Rural communities via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Crofters welcome Scotland's GMO ban

The Ecologist

10th August 2015

Scotland's small-scale farmers have welcomed their government's decision to prevent the growing of GM crops, aimed at enhancing the country's 'clean, green status', among a coalition of green NGOs. more...
Chafer Multidrive FC applying glyphosate and podstick to oilseed rape crop as pre-harvest dessicant. Photo: Chafer Machinery via Flickr (CC BY).

Don't let Monsanto deny glyphosate carcinogenicity!

Professor Peter Saunders

5th August 2015

Monsanto is stepping up its attack on the WHO's classification of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, writes Peter Saunders. Dismissing the finding as 'junk science' the company is convening its own industry friendly panel and pushing its secret studies at regulators. Don't let them get away with it! more...
A beetle on a male corn flower. Photo: Flávio Jota de Paula via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Biodiversity is the best defence against corn pests

Jonathan Lundgren & Scott Fausti

14th August 2015

Farmers' first line of defence against pests is the ecosystem in and around their fields, write Jonathan Lundgren & Scott Fausti. With widespread or indiscriminate use of pesticides essential biodiversity is lost - and the result is more frequent and serious infestations, and a decline in food security. more...
A rice field and some traditional farm houses in a small village in the South of Niigata, Japan. Photo: Norman Tannert via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Japan's 'sacred' rice farmers evade TPP death sentence - for now

Nicole L Freiner

3rd August 2015

Japanese rice farmers won a reprieve last week when TTP negotiations in Hawaii ended without conclusion on opening Japan up to cheap US rice imports, writes Nicole L Freiner. But with Japan keen to export more cars to the US, the victory is a temporary one. At stake is a way of life, an ancient land-rooted religion, and the future viability of Japan's farming villages. more...
Munnaf's wife Lovely Begum, showing dead Bt brinjal plants. Photo: Faisal Rahman.

GMO propaganda over facts? BBC Panorama and Bt brinjal

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

30th July 2015

A BBC documentary claimed 90% success for a controversial GM crop in Bangladesh, Bt brinjal, writes Claire Robinson. But as journalist Faisal Rahman discovered, there's no evidence to support the claim, the BBC relied on biased sources, and its journalists failed to investigate reports of widespread crop failure. Was it all an exercise in pro-GMO propaganda? more...
Jairo Restrepo among the wild flowers of Spain. Photo: JuanFran Lopez.

Defending life! Jairo Restrepo, organic revolutionary

JuanFran Lopez / Ragmans Lane Farm

27th July 2015

Jairo Restrepo is a leading champion of organic farming in Brazil, writes JuanFran Lopez, and now his influence has spread across the world. His mission too has expanded to include campaigning for the rights of small scale farmers, and an even wider project of economic, technological and societal transformation to put people at the centre of political power. more...
Daily life in Conakry, Guinea on 3rd December 2014. Photo: Dominic Chavez / World Bank via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Neoliberal Ebola: palm oil, logging, land grabs, ecological havoc and disease

Rob Wallace

27th July 2015

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa had everything to do with logging, deforestation and the disruption of traditional agro-forestry by large scale industrial agriculture, writes Rob Wallace. The only long term solution to this terrible disease may lie in forest conservation, the restoration of agroecological farming systems, and the exclusion of agribusiness investment. more...


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