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Patrick Holden with his dairy herd. Photo: Steph French (www.stephfrench.com) / SFT.

Patrick Holden: 'cheap' food is costing the Earth, and our health

Emily Lewis-Brown

7th April 2016

Food has never been more affordable for middle class families in rich countries. But it comes at a high cost: the impact of industrial food production on health, environment and society has never been greater as Patrick Holden explained to Emily Lewis-Brown. Now the real cost of food US production will be examined in a ground-breaking conference in San Francisco. more...
Danger - Radioactive! Photo: StefrogZ / Greens MPs via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Nuclear industry reveals its unsolved problem: waste

Gordon MacKerron, University of Sussex

6th April 2016

Britain is shipping 700kg of highly-enriched uranium capable of making scores of nuclear bombs to the US, writes Gordon MacKerron. The move is a symptom of a huge problem that's afflicting all nuclear nations - what to do with their nuclear wastes? The only real solution is deep geological disposal. But it's politically fraught, technically challenging, very expensive - and has yet to be done. more...
La Condamine, Monaco. Photo: Anandkumar N via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

It's the tax havens that own the politicians!

Donnachadh McCarthy

6th April 2016

Never mind Cameron's mealy mouthed denials that he or his family benefit from tax havens, writes Donnachadh McCarthy. The real problem is systemic: Britain's entire political establishment has long been owned by tax haven wealth. Finally a senior politician, Jeremy Corbyn, has the courage to stand up to the unaccountable super-rich. more...
Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. Photo: Skip Nyegard via Fliuckr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Fishing ban is helping the Great Barrier Reef resist and recover from damage

Camille Mellin, Aaron MacNeil & Julian Caley

7th April 2016

New research from Australia's Great Barrier Reef shows that no-take marine reserves don't just mean more and bigger fish, write Camille Mellin, Aaron MacNeil & Julian Caley. They also boost the resistance of reef communities to disturbances like storms, bleaching and predation, and speed their subsequent recovery. It's time for global rollout of coral reef marine reserves! more...
US soldiers perform a platoon mounted and dismounted live-fire exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany Oct. 6, 2010. Photo: Gertrud Zach / The U.S. Army via Fliclr (CC BY).

Thought for Earth Day: whether it's badgers or Trident missiles, shooting solves nothing

Linda Pentz Gunter

20th April 2016

Why do we humans resort to shooting, whenever a challenging problem confronts us? Whether it's culling badgers to protect hedgehogs, or renewing the Trident missile threat with expensive upgrades, our species seems determined to upset the balance of nature and harmony on Earth by shooting first - and never asking the questions at all. more...
The Royal Oak of Teremiski, Bialowieza Forest. Photo: justyna via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

No 'salvage' logging in Poland's ancient forest!

Lucinda Kirkpatrick

4th April 2016

Poland is intent on a huge increase in logging in Europe's greatest ancient forest, writes Lucinda Kirkpatrick. The government says it's needed to control spruce bark beetles. But the insect is a key part of the ecosystem, creating woodpecker nest sites and habitat for other endangered species. In truth it's just a big timber grab that must be strongly resisted. more...
Male Atlantic salmon showing the kype (hook) in the lower jaw, used in battle with rival mates during the spawning season. Photo: E. Peter Steenstra / US Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region via Flickr (CC BY).

FDA sued for 'unlawful' approval of GMO salmon

The Ecologist

1st April 2016

A coalition of fishing, consumer, and environmental groups are suing the FDA for its 'unlawful' approval of Aquabounty's GM salmon, as it relied on treating the fish as an 'animal drug' under a 1938 law, and ignored serious risks to wild salmon and fishing communities. more...
Mother and daughter: bison in the Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Bill Lile via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Buffalo slaughter in Yellowstone and the death of a spirit animal

Louise Willcox

5th April 2016

North American buffalo are officially 'vulnerable to global extinction', writes Louise Willcox, yet the US National Parks Service and Montana are intent on their wholesale slaughter. In place of a complete ecosystem with wild-roaming buffalo and grizzly bears, wildlife managers are systematically favoring the over-abundant elk that drive the politically powerful hunting industry. more...
Vegetable stall in the Old Havana market, Cuba. Photo: Guillaume Baviere via Flickr (CC BY).

Cuba's sustainable agriculture at risk in US diplomatic thaw

Miguel Altieri, University of California, Berkeley

1st April 2016

Among Cuba's greatest achievements is its organic farming sector, writes Miguel Altieri. Developed in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union, small agroecological farms now employ 300,000 campesinos and provide an abundance of healthy fruit and vegetables. But now US food and agribusiness corporations are eyeing up a multi-billion dollar business opportunity. more...
Intensive arable farming in England: no space for people or wildlife. Photo: Peter Roworth / Natural England via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Six steps back to the land: an agricultural revolution for people and countryside

Colin Tudge

22nd April 2016

What's the point of farming? To produce an abundance of wholesome food, writes Colin Tudge, while supporting a flourishing rural economy and a sustainable, biodiverse countryside. Yet the powers that be, determined to advance industrial agriculture at all costs, are achieving the precise opposite. It's time for a revolution in our food and farming culture, led by the people at large. more...
Wild coffee grows in these forests of the Ethiopian highlands - and nowhere else. Photo: Indrias Getachew.

Ethiopia's vulnerable tropical forests are key to securing the future of coffee

Fiona Hesselden, University of Huddersfield

24th March 2016

Coffee may be grown all around the tropics, writes Fiona Hesselden, but it originates in just one place: the 'coffee rainforests' of the Ethiopian highlands. We depend on the wild plants for new genes and varieties, yet the forests are falling fast to the advance of farmers. To preserve the forests and all their biodiversity, the original people of the forest must receive their just rewards. more...
Lesvos beach, 21st October 2015. Photo: Marienna Pope-Weidemann via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Why 'Effective Altruism' is ineffective: the case of refugees

Sam Earle & Rupert Read

5th April 2016

In trying to evaluate charitable interventions in 'value for money' terms, the movement for 'Effective Altruism' has lost its moral compass, Sam Earle & Rupert Read. The real changes the world needs are profound, systemic and political. There is no better example than the refugee crisis: the problem is not insufficient aid, but structural inequality, too many weapons, and too much war. more...

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The Rio Blanco community at its blockade of the Agua Zarca dam. Photo: COPINH.

Gustavo Castro Soto and the rigged investigation into Berta Cáceres’s assassination

Beverly Bell

23rd March 2016

The Government of Honduras is intent on framing the only witness to the murder of Berta Cáceres as the one guilty of the crime, writes Beverly Bell. Gustavo Castro Soto, an eco-defender from Mexico, is now in effective detention in his country's embassy in Tegucigalpa in fear of his life, having himself been injured in the attack and seen the real assassin. The US Government must break its resounding silence. more...
Global emissions trajectory 1975-2015, showing standstill in 2014 and 2015. Image: IEA.

Global emissions stand still as temperatures soar

Alex Kirby

18th March 2016

For the second year running CO2 emissions flatlined even as the global economy was growing at around 3%, writes Alex Kirby. But sharply rising temperatures show the need for further massive renewable energy deployment to actually bring emissions down. more...
The Chancellor has done it for sugary drinks. Now, will he go on to do the same for even bigger issues - like the air pollution that's killing tens of thousands of British citizens a year? Photo: Roy Schreffler via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Chancellor is right to act on sugar. Next, air pollution!

Simon Bullock

17th March 2016

The Chancellor's 'sport not sugar' move to tax sugary drinks was extremely welcome, writes Simon Bullock. But we need a similar Treasury approach to protect people from other threats too. So how about tackling the air pollution that's killing tens of thousands of Britons a year? more...
Muammar al-Gaddafi: 'I rule!'. Photo: Neil Weightman via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Why Qaddafi had to go: African gold, oil and the challenge to monetary imperialism

Ellen Brown

14th March 2016

What was NATO's violent intervention in Libya really all about? Now we know, writes Ellen Brown, thanks to Hillary Clinton's recently published emails. It was to prevent the creation of an independent hard currency in Africa that would free the continent from economic bondage under the dollar, the IMF and the French African franc, shaking off the last heavy chains of colonial exploitation. more...
Forager bee pollinating a passion flower. Photo: Max Westby via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Chlorpyrifos 'may threaten survival' of Forager bees

The Ecologist

11th March 2016

The insecticide chlorpyrifos is not just highly toxic to developing human foetuses. A new study finds that it also damages the memory and learning ability of Forager bees even at very low doses, threatening the survival of this important pollinator. more...
Jaguar at Pilpintuwasi, near Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo: worldsurfr via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

The Shaman's cure: a Gaian awakening

Peter Bunyard

2nd March 2016

An encounter with a Colombian shaman led Peter Bunyard on a spiritual journey into and beyond the living, breathing, transpiring Amazon rainforest, providing key insights into the essential role of the great tropical forests in the workings of Gaia. He emerged re-energised from his visions - and inspired to redouble his efforts to save our wondrous planet. more...
The technology is neat - but can it ever be industrialised? JBEI researcher using synthetic biology to engineer microbes to ferment complex sugars into advanced biofuels. Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory via Flickr (CC BY-NC-

Oil: $30-35 per barrel. Synthetic biology diesel: $3,180 to $7,949 per barrel. Game over?

Almuth Ernsting

29th February 2016

A synthetic biology plant producing the anti-malarial drug artemisinin has just shut down as it's much cheaper to use wormwood grown by African farmers, writes Almuth Ernsting. The technology is even further from making affordable diesel, with a production cost of $20-50 per litre. No wonder investors are losing patience - and confidence - in loss-making synbio companies. more...
A huge wild bee hive in Indian forest. Photo: Karunakar Rayker via Flickr (CC BY).

Climate change is killing off India’s bees

Pramila Krishnan

1st March 2016

A warming climate and the loss of natural areas are driving Indian bee colonies to the brink, writes Premila Krishnan. Losing this cousin of our European honeybee could be disastrous, as rural communities depend on their honey for food and income, and the bees perform vital pollination services. more...
Participatory barley breeding in India. Photo: Salvatore Ceccarelli .

Harnessing the power of evolution in participatory seed breeding

Salvatore Ceccarelli / Independent Science News

29th February 2016

Conventional agriculture has made an enemy of evolution as pests and diseases develop resistance to biocides and over-bred hybrids succumb to them, writes Salvatore Ceccarelli. But there is another way - for farmers to participate in breeding seed lines that are continuously adapting to their environment, with ever improving yields, flavour, pest-resistance, and other sought-after qualities. more...
HSUK and HS2 route comparison. Image: HSUK.

HS2 or HSUK - the quicker, cheaper, emissions-cutting, low impact high speed rail network?

Colin Elliff, Andrew Coulson & Stephen Stretton

1st March 2016

High Speed UK is the greener, well-connected alternative to HS2, write Colin Elliff, Andrew Coulson & Stephen Stretton - and it would save taxpayers billions. Financed by taxing property owners in connected cities on their windfall gains, HSUK would create a low fare, high capacity, interconnected railway network which would generate huge long-term profits for the nation. more...
A female solar engineer from Rajasthan, India - just one of many who could have benefitted from the work to create the National Solar Mission. Photo: Knut-Erik Helle via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

World Trade Organisation smashes India's solar panels industry

Dipti Bhatnagar & Sam Cossar-Gilbert

28th February 2016

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has found India's huge solar initiative 'guilty' of breaking trade rules, write Dipti Bhatnagar & Sam Cossar-Gilbert, because it gives domestic manufacturers a small 10% quota for the supply of panels, leaving up to 90% for foreign competitors. It's a warning for perils of the entire WTO system, and of even harsher trade rules like those in TPP, TTIP and CETA. more...
There is another way: cotton farmers in India studying about insects as part of a course on 'integrated pest management'. Photo: S. Jayaraj / The AgriCultures Network via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Monsanto's pride, Monsanto's fall: playing God with the Indian farmer

Colin Todhunter

19th February 2016

India's farmers are the targets of structural violence aimed at uprooting indigenous agriculture and replacing it with an intensive corporate model based on GMOs and agrochemicals, writes Colin Todhunter. But as Monsanto's GM cotton succumbs to insect infestations despite repeated pesticide applications, agroecological farming is an increasingly attractive option for cultivators. more...
New Yorkers Protest the $3 trillion Wall Street bailout, Wall Street, NYC,  September 25, 2008. Photo: A. Golden via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Money revolution: making banks public and locally accountable

Ellen Brown

18th February 2016

The private banking system that dominates North America and Europe works very well indeed, writes Ellen Brown - for the bankers. As for us, it's a disaster, as the banks use their monopoly over the creation of money itself, at interest, as a tool to extract ever more value from us and the entire economy. But there is another way! more...

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