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Singer Baaba Maal inspects failed corn crops in Mauritania. The maize has gone dry and is inedible. Photo: Oxfam International.

Resisting drought: conventional plant breeding outperforms GM

Lawrence Woodward

4th October 2014

Reports show that traditional breeding techniques are years ahead of GM technologies in developing crops to withstand drought and poor soils, writes Lawrence Woodward. Yet GM advocates are sticking rigidly to their script even as the evidence mounds against them ... more...
GM Free Me gallery - including the author, bottom left. Photo: GM Free Me.

Show your face for a GM Free UK

Pat Thomas

3rd October 2014

The UK government is determined to bring GMOs to England', writes Pat Thomas, and changes in EU rules mean this could happen as soon as next year. The way to keep them out is people power - so go ahead and declare yourself 'GM FREE ME'! more...
Ripe poppies awaiting harvest near Winchester in Hampshire. Photo: Neil Howard via Flickr.

Celebrate the seeds that feed us!

Rowan Phillimore

3rd October 2014

Seeds are essential to our food and our entire lives, writes Rowan Phillimore. So join in celebrating and sharing them at a series of events this month in London, Bristol, Devon, Oxford, Lancaster, Herts - and begin the fightback against corporate domination of seeds and oppressive government regulation. more...
Cacao seedlings in the nursery - raised in biochar-enriched soil. Photo: Carbon Gold.

Corporate-smart greenwash: the Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture

Climate Smart Ag Concerns

30th September 2014

The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture made its high-profile launch at the New York Climate Summit. But for a huge coalition of civil society organizations, it's a 'greenwash' initiative designed to promote intensive profit-driven industrial agriculture at the expense of small farmers, environment, and the real solutions. more...
These bananas in India are grown for their edible seed as well as their flesh. To increase food security in a warming world, we must increase the diversity of our food crops. Photo: VitaminGreen via Flickr.

In a warming world, food security means crop diversity

Sayed Azam-Ali

10th October 2014

The global homogenisation of food carries costs, writes Sayed Azam-Ali - notably the world's the increasing dependence on just a few 'elite crops', creating a precarious food system vulnerable to climate change. We must diversify our diets, and the crops that that feed us. more...
Park rangers working in  Priazovskii National Park. Photo: Dimiter Kenarov.

Ukraine - now the war is to rescue threatened nature

Dimiter Kenarov

1st October 2014

Ukraine's Priazovskii National Park epitomises the problems faced by the world's natural areas, writes Dimiter Kenarov, as it contends with inadequate funding, rising sea levels, dried-out rivers, industrial pollution and illegal hunting. And that's not to mention the war. But the staff battle on: 'If we don't do this, then who will?' more...
Agroecology in action: common bean, maize, and sunflower in UBC Milpa. Photo: J Hart via Flickr.

UN: only small farmers and agroecology can feed the world

Nafeez Ahmed

23rd September 2014

Governments must shift subsidies and research funding from agro-industrial monoculture to small farmers using 'agroecological' methods, according to the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. And as Nafeez Ahmed notes, her call coincides with a new agroecology initiative within the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation. more...
The secret of healthy food is healthy soil - as with these organic potatoes bursting from the ground in early June this year at Sandy lane Farm, Oxfordshire. Photo: Sandy Lane Farm.

For healthy food we need living, organic soils

Hannah Bewsey & Katherine Paul / OCA

9th October 2014

Soils are naturally alive with complex 'food webs' of micro-organisms that sustain plants with moisture and nutrients, making them good to eat. But once the biota have been blitzed with agro-chemicals under industrial farming regimes, it's our health that suffers. One more reason to grow, and eat, organic! more...
An intensive feedlot for beef cattle - a key stage in the US's amazingly high emissions from beef production. Photo: Socially Responsible Agricultural Project via Flickr.

The Carbon Underground: reversing global warming

Ronnie Cummins / Organic Consumers Association

21st September 2014

As millions join in climate marches and other actions around the world, writes Ronnie Cummins, the 'mainstream' focus on energy is missing the 55% of emissions that come from mismanaged land and destroyed forests. The key is to replace industrial agriculture worldwide with productive, regenerative organic farming that puts carbon back in the soil. more...
A small farmer keeps watch over his crops from a treetop south of Arba Minch, Ethiopia. But what will he do when multinational corporations, backed by the full force of law, enter the valley? Photo: David Stanley via Flickr.

Coca-Cola is not the solution to hunger in Africa

Miriam Ross

22nd September 2014

Coca-Cola is the latest company to join the agricultural 'scramble for Africa', writes Miriam Ross. Backed by £600 million of British aid under the guise of 'food security' and 'nutrition', a vast give-away of Africa's land is under way that will condemn small farmers to landlessness and poverty. more...
A deformed pig suffering, Ib Borup Pedersen believes, from the ill effects of glyphosate. Photo: Ib Borup Pedersen.

Changing to non-GMO soy transformed the health of my pigs

Ib Borup Pederson

18th September 2014

From the day that Danish pig farmer Ib Borup Pederson switched away from GM soy, his animals became healthier and more productive. Birth deformities reduced, sows became more fertile, medicine costs fell, and profits went up. The changes were linked to the reduction in the levels of the herbicide glyphosate in their feed. more...
Moussa Konate cultivating his fields. Photo: Fernando Naves Sousa.

Farmers lead composting revolution to heal African soils

Fernando Naves Sousa

14th October 2014

The soils on which African farmers depend are getting poorer, writes Fernando Naves Sousa, depleted of nutrients and organic matter. This creates a huge challenge: to reverse the trend in an environmentally responsible way, while feeding a growing population. But it can be done - using organic composting techniques. more...

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Front cover design from 'The GMO Deception', edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber.

The GMO Deception

Ralph Nader

24th October 2014

Science is to corporate science as Hyperion to a satyr, writes Ralph Nader. And there is no better example of this than Monsanto's realm of GMOs, biocides, super-aggressive lawyers and tame regulators - brilliantly exposed in this new book of essays, edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber. more...
The 'flying rivers' of the Amazon are at risk from deforestation, fires and climate change. Without them, forest and farmland could turn to desert. Photo: Eli Duke via Flickr.

Drought bites as the Amazon's 'flying rivers' fail

Jan Rocha

20th September 2014

The Amazon forest both depends on, and sustains, vast 'flying rivers' that carry humid air and clouds deep into the continental interior, writes Jan Rocha. But scientists fear the flying rivers are failing due to deforestation, fire and climate change. more...
Glyphosate herbicides are often sprayed on potato crops prior to harvest to 'dessicate' the plants' green leaves. Photo: David Wright via Flickr.

Toxic glyphosate herbicides fly under the EU's regulatory radar

Pete Farrer & Marianne Falck

12th September 2014

The widely used herbicide glyphosate has been judged 'safe', write Pete Farrer & Marianne Falck. But by the time it's used, it's in a 'formulation' with toxic surfactants, which escape EU regulation despite their known dangers. Germany alone has forbidden the use of the most dangerous surfactant - but is keeping its evidence secret. more...
Amaranth amongst the the corn plants. It is traditional in Oaxaca, to grow crops in the same field. This is called the ‘milpa system'. Photo: Anna Bruce.

Amaranth revival - Mexican farmers rediscover an ancient superfood

Anna Bruce

25th October 2014

Mexico's conquistadors outlawed amaranth - a highly nutritious seed farmed by the indigenous peoples for millennia - due to its use in religious rituals. But it's now being hailed as a 'superfood', writes Anna Bruce, and a growing number of Mexican campesinos are once again cultivating the 'noble plant' among their corn, squash and beans. more...
Ranching on BLM lands is a taxpayer-subsidised environmental degradation. Photo: Cattle near the Bruneau River in Elko County, Nevada. Photo: Famartin / Wkimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wild West Welfare - how ranching made US public lands private property

William Williers

26th September 2014

Livestock ranching on US public lands underlies a vast range of environmental problems - so should we welcome 'conservation buyouts' of ranches that own grazing leases? No way, writes William Williers, because the lands are already ours, and to 'buy' them is to support and perpetuate a $1 billion per year fraud against the American people. more...
Badger seen at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr.

Labour will tackle bovine TB - without the mass killing of badgers

Huw Irranca-Davies

18th September 2014

Speaking in Stroud this week, Huw Irrancas-Davies MP delivered a withering attack on the Government's badger cull policy - and firmly committed a future Labour government to ending the badger cull, using measures to control bovine TB that are safe, effective, and humane. more...
At risk of extinction: the Bearded vulture. Photo: Joachim S Muller.

Europe's vultures face extinction from toxic vet drug

Oliver Tickell

8th September 2014

Vultures have become one of the most threatened families of birds on the planet thanks to poisoning by the veterinary drug diclofenac. Now Birdlife has discovered that it's on sale in Europe - threatening to wipe vultures out and undermine significant EU investments in vulture conservation. more...
After the Fujushima catastrophe, this rice was grown nearby by IAEA to test methods of soil decontamination. Photo: IAEA Imagebank via Flickr.

Fukushima radiation damages rice genome

Gregory McGann

18th September 2014

Research on the biological effects of radiation near the Fukushima nuclear disaster site finds a powerful response in rice seedlings, writes Gregory McCann. The discovery will do nothing to boost consumer confidence in resumed rice exports from the Fukushima region. more...
Contented cows feeding on grass in a field in Cumbria. Photo: Nowerx via Flickr.

Dairy - the case for greener, healthier, lower performing cows

Mark Eisler, Graeme Martin & Michael Lee

8th September 2014

With supermarket milk cheaper than spring water, it's time to rethink the modern dairy industry. It's not just the milk that's become a throwaway product - the high-octane Holstein cows that produce it are also in the knackers yard after just two or three lactations, the living waste of a loss-making, environment-trashing industry. more...
The rice harvest in Bicol Region, Philippines. Photo: α is for äpΩL † via Flickr.

Philippines: farmers call to stop 'Golden Rice' trials

Oliver Tickell

8th September 2014

Farmers in the Bicol region of the Philippines have gathered to renew their fight against field trials of Golden Rice and halt moves towards its commercialization. But with last year's 'advanced' Golden Rice trials showing low yields, the prospect of a GR release is fast receding. more...
Still from the Mercy for Animals video of Bettencourt Dairy, Idaho.

Success for challenge to Idaho 'ag-gag' law

Oliver Tickell

5th September 2014

A legal challenge to a draconian Idaho law that outlaws free speech about animal abuses on factory farms has survived a 'motion to dismiss' in a federal court. The challenge, mounted by free speech, animal welfare, food and environment groups, claims the 'ag gag' law is unconstitutional. more...
CIAT cassava specialist Dr. Tin Maung Aye studies cassava crops in NE Thailand, affected by pest and disease outbreaks. Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT) / Wikimedia Commons.

Farm pests' global advance threatens food security

2nd September 2014

Tim Radford

Agricultural pests - viruses, bacteria, fungi, blights, mildews, rusts, beetles, nematodes, flies, mites, spiders and caterpillars - are spreading thanks to trade, travel and global warming, writes Tim Radford. The world faces a dire future of increased crop losses and growing insecurity. more...
'Mata Atlântica' in Brazil's Serra da Gandarela national park. But there are few large forest areas like this one remaining. Mostly the Atlantic forest habitat is fragmented by farms, roads and towns. Photo: Frederico Pereira via Flickr.

Saving Brazil's Atlantic forest on a shoe string

Cristina Banks-Leite

18th September 2014

As Brazil prepares for elections next month, conserving its remaining Atlantic Forest is a hot issue, writes Cristina Banks-Leite. Ecologists want to preserve more native habitat, while farmers want to expand their acreage. But there is one solution that ought to please everyone. more...

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