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A tribal elder from the Tagbanua tribe in Quezon municipality, central Palawan. Photo: Rod Harbinson.

Philippines islanders unite to resist 'land grab' palm oil companies

Rod Harbinson

7th January 2016

Farmers on Palawan are being tricked into giving land away to palm oil companies with local government support, writes Rod Harbinson. Under the palm oil company 'leases' the farmers lose all rights to their land, never receive any money, and are saddled with 25 years of debt. Those who resist the land grabs are now in fear for their lives following the murder of a prominent campaigner. more...
Mining Bee (Andrena dunningi) on Hawthorn. Photo:  Dan Mullen via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

New research exposes hidden cocktail of bee-killing pesticides in hedgerows and wildflowers

Oliver Tickell

5th January 2015

Dangerous volumes of neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides are expressed in common wild flowers like buttercups and hawthorn blossom in countryside under arable cultivation, a new study has discovered. The discovery invalidates the UK government's 'pollinator strategy' based on creating 'safe havens' in arable areas - because the havens are in fact loaded with pesticides. more...
Why did the badger cross the road? Maybe to get away from an Environment Secretary on a personal mission of death and destruction to Britain's wildlife. Photo: Badger in the Quantock Hills of Somerset by Mark Robinson via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Truss's decision: badger culling will continue, with no evidence it works

Lesley Docksey

5th January 2015

Sneaked out shortly before MP's Christmas recess, the Government's decision to 'carry on culling' badgers with no evidence that the slaughter is reducing the incidence of bovine TB is a travesty of process, writes Lesley Docksey. But it does have one useful outcome - it has exposed Defra's claims that the cull is 'science-led' as arrant nonsense. Science never even got a look in. more...
A farmer at work on his tractor amid oilseed rape (canola) in Oakwood, Derbyshire, England. Photo: John Bennett via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

To control flood - and drought - we must involve farmers

Colin Tudge

2nd January 2015

Building resilience to flood and drought is all about working with farmers, writes Colin Tudge. Simple things like ploughing across slopes, not up and down them, planting trees, and caring for soils, can make a huge difference in helping rainwater to sink into the ground, not run off. And to make it happen, the government must take a lead. more...
These Venezuelan watermelon (sandía) seeds are now protected by law from corporate takeover, while GMOs are banned. Photo: Rufino Uribe via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Venezuela's 'people as legislators' ban GMOs, protect traditional seeds

William Camacaro, Frederick B. Mills & Christina M. Schiavoni

2nd January 2015

A radical new Seed Law drafted by Venezuelan people, farmers and NGOs was signed into law in the closing days of 2015, write William Camacaro, Frederick B. Mills & Christina M. Schiavoni. Striking back against the corporate takeover of seeds and peddling of GMOs, the Seed Law bans transgenic seeds, protects the country's germplasm, and establishes the legal foundation for a participatory, agroecological food and farming system. more...
Female Agapostemon sp. sweat bee, Oregon, USA. Photo: Thomas Shahan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Farm expansion driving US native bee declines

Beyond Pesticides

28th December 2015

Wild bee decline is closely associated with the advance of intensive farming and habitat loss, a new study shows. It follows an earlier paper that linked 'delayed action' decline of wild bees to exposure to pesticides including fungicides - previously considered 'bee-safe'. more...
Two mature bulls amid wild flowers on the Partido de Resina bull-breeding estate in Spain. In the background, intensively managed orange and olive plantations run up to the estate boundary. Photo: Robin Irvine.

Bullfighting is conserving Spain's biodiversity - ban at nature's peril

Robin Irvine, University of St Andrews

28th December 2015

Bullfighting may cause suffering to animals, but that does not mean the EU should ban it or withdraw farm subsidies, writes Robin Irvine. Traditional bull-breeding estates are valuable reservoirs of biodiversity in intensively farmed landscapes, and without the bulls there would be nothing to sustain them. more...
No Fracking protest in London outside Parliament, 26th January 2015. Photo: The Weekly Bull via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Fracking plans are driving an even more damaging ideological agenda

Paul Mobbs

21st December 2015

The UK's insistence on opening up the UK to fracking is symptomatic of a deeper malaise, writes Paul Mobbs. Of course we need a change of government, but more than that, we need a deeper, enduring change of the nation's governance if we are ever to effect the transition to sustainable policies on energy and environment. It's time for the UK to become truly democratic. more...
Badger at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

So badger culls are working? Liz Truss, produce your evidence!

Oliver Tickell

18th December 2015

Environment Secretary Liz Truss told Parliament yesterday that England's badger cull is 'working', and needs to be extended into new areas, writes Oliver Tickell. Yet she and the NFU have refused to release the evidence to back up her claims. Now MPs and NGOs are joining the cry: 'publish or be damned!' more...
Photo: Arath Kuchi via Flickr (BY-SA)

India's top GMO regulator's 'Contempt of Court' over GM mustard trials

Colin Todhunter

15th December

India's Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee stands accused of Contempt of Court for evading Supreme Court orders to carry out full biosafety tests on GM crops and publish its data, writes Colin Todhunter. The immediate issue is a herbicide tolerant GM mustard now approved for large scale trials, while earlier findings remain under an impenetrable veil of official secrecy. more...
A caged Heart of England partridge debeaked and fitted with metal beak 'bit'. Photo: League Against Cruel Sports.

The plight of the partridge: confined, distressed, maimed - then shot for fun

Dr Toni Shephard

15th December 2015

Forget pear trees. Today's partridges are unlikely to have seen much beyond the barren confines of their cages until they are released to be shot, writes Toni Shephard. A new investigation by the League Against Cruel Sports reveals that thousands of partridges will spend Christmas, like every other day, imprisoned on the farms that supply shooting estates. more...
The ban on GMO crop trials imposed by the Supreme Court is intended to protect native crop biodiversity from contamination - for example, the brinjal (aubergine), widely grown throughout the country. Photo: Judgefloro via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA).

Philippines Supreme Court bans GMO crop trials

GMWatch

13th December 2015

The Philippines were meant to be the US's sandbox for GMO development and penetration into southeast Asia, but that has all changed with a Supreme Court decision to ban GMO crop trials pending the development of new biosafety protocols. more...

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The problem is not just eating meat, but the kind of meat. Brazilian beef causes emissions around ten times greater than chicken. Photo: butcher's shop in Mares, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil by Vin via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Can eating less meat really tackle climate change? (Yes)

Mike Berners-Lee, Lancaster University

27th January 2016

Meat is responsible for about 30% of all 'wasted calories', writes Mike Berners-Lee, so with food causing a third of all greenhouse emissions, eating less meat is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce our climate impact. But no less important is to switch from high to low-impact meats - and to do all we can to cut food waste in our kitchens. more...
Yellowstone Bison. Photo: Jitze Couperus via Flickr (CC BY).

Bloodbath in Yellowstone: the park's plan to slaughter 1,000 wild bison

George Wuerthner

14th December 2015

Yellowstone Park is home to America's last pure-bred wild bison, writes George Wuerthner. Yet the Park's management is planning to kill around a thousand of these precious animals this winter. Ostensibly it's to protect cattle on public lands near the park from brucellosis. But bison have never been known to transmit the disease to them. The real reason is to keep all the pasture for livestock. more...
Intensive cultivation of soya advancing into the forests of the Mato Grosso, Brazil. Photo: Leonardo F. Freitas via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Monsanto on trial for crimes against nature and humanity

Pavlos Georgiadis

6th December 2015

Monsanto was accused of 'crimes against humanity and the environment' at COP21 in Paris this week, writes Pavlos Georgiadis. And now the evidence against it is being gathered for presentation at a 'Monsanto Tribunal' taking place next October in The Hague. more...
Soil is where our food comes from - so why don't we look after it as well as organic farmers? Photo: Soil Association.

It's time to celebrate and protect the soils that feed us!

Peter Melchett

4th December 2015

Almost all our food is grown in soil, writes Peter Melchett. Yet we are treating it like dirt: spraying it with toxic chemicals, depleting vital nutrients, and releasing its carbon to add to climate change. With World Soils Day coming up tomorrow, let's change our ways - and renew our commitment to organic food and farming. more...
Drax power station in Yorskshire, England, was to host the UK's examplar of BECCS in its White Rose project, with a planned CCS add-on. In a rare moment of santity, the UK government has pulled the funding. Photo: Ian Britton via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

COP21's climate technofix: spinning carbon into gold and the myth of 'negative emissions'

Rachel Smolker

3rd December 2015

Paris has been awash with hype about 'CO2 recycling' and 'carbon neutral' or even 'carbon negative' technologies based on burning millions of trees, writes Rachel Smolker. But the alchemical notion that waste carbon can be spun into corporate gold is hitting serious reality checks. It's time to ditch the fantasies and progress the real solutions: like caring for land, soils, forests and grasslands. more...
Enormous farms are eating deep into the forests of the Mato Grosso in Brazil - and the EU is one of the main markets for the soya they produce. Photo: Leonardo F. Freitas via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Europe must lead the way towards 'zero deforestation'

Sébastien Risso / Greenpeace Europe

11th January 2016

After years of half-hearted, ineffective polices to tackle deforestation, the EU is finally promising to take strong measures to deal with the problem, writes Sébastien Risso. Tackling illegal timber imports will be a great start, but it also needs to take on the far larger problem of deforestation for agriculture - stimulated by the EU's huge imports of palm oil, soy, beef and other commodities. more...
Erika Berenguer examines recently burned primary forest. Photo: Jos Barlow, Author provided.

18,000 fires rage in Brazil's Amazon rainforest

Jos Barlow & Erika Berenguer

2nd Decmber 2015

It's not just Indonesia's forests and peatlands that are burning - the Amazon is suffering almost as badly, with over 18,000 fires last month in Brazil alone, write Jos Barlow & Erika Berenguer. The future is looking hot and fiery. more...

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...
Photo: PAN North America.

EPA bans toxic pesticide mix on GM crops

The Ecologist

26th November 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency has just withdrawn its authorization for a toxic mix of two herbicides, glyphosate and 2,4-D, to be used on GM crops. The move came in response to a lawsuit claiming the initial registration was unlawful. 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...
Artwork: 'Roots amd Wings' by Angela Marie Henriette via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

A People's Pact to Protect the Planet

Vandana Shiva

2nd December 2015

We cannot rely on governments in meeting in Paris to solve the many-headed climate problem, writes Vandana Shiva. It's up to us to safeguard the future of the Earth, and of our own and other species. So let's all join in this pact to love and protect our one and only home. 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...
Traditional Farmer in Kabaune village, Kenya working in the field with his cattle. The village has joined in planting trees in order to increase rain and water. Photo: P. Casier / CGIAR via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

The tremendous success of agroecology in Africa

Colion Todhunter

21st November 2015

While the Gates Foundation and conservative politicians are bigging up GMOs and agribusiness, writes Colin Todhunter, a quiet revolution has been working its way across Africa. Agroecological farming, constantly adapting to local needs, customs, soils and climates, has been improving nutrition, reducing poverty, combatting climate change, and enriching farmland. more...

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