The Ecologist


Farming: 1/25 of 1452
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Well cared-for animals are crucial to food security and sustainable farming systems around the world. Photo: Paul Woods via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

The future of our food depends on small farmers and well cared-for livestock

Philip Lymbery / CIWF

19th October 2016

Abusive farming of animals in factory farms is one of the great cruelties of the modern age, writes Philip Lymbery. While some may justify it as necessary to 'feed the world', it is no such thing. The answer lies in supporting small scale traditional farmers, and respecting the livestock that are intrinsic to sustainable agriculture across the planet. more...
Agroecology is not just for the developing world: Amish farmer, USA. Photo: Ashley Morris via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Agroecology cools the planet - so why are Governments backing agribusiness?

Kirtana Chandrasekaran

14th October 2016

It' a perfect win-win solution for World Food Day, writes Kirtana Chandrasekaran: agroecology that sequesters carbon into soils, making them more fertile, productive and resilient, while also supporting sustainable livelihoods and tackling climate change. But instead governments are desperately trying to attract agribusiness investment that does the precise opposite. more...

WITNESS: Obesity, Ecology and the Confines of the Government Strategy

Yvonne Adebola

13th October, 2016

In the first of our new WITNESS series of blogs, food anthropology researcher YVONNE ADEBOLA suggests a 'One Health' approach to childhood obesity which recognises the ecological impact of modern food systems on the environment and on our collective health and wellbeing more...
Crop 'dusting' with pesticide a few miles north of Ripley, Mississippi. Photo: Roger Smith via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Monsanto on trial? Or 21st century capitalism?

Pete Dolack

13th October 2016

The organizers of tomorrow's International Monsanto Tribunal describe it as a 'moral trial', while the company dismisses it as a 'mock trial' and 'stunt'. The truth, writes Pete Dolack, is that it's about much more than this one company. On trial is the entire neoliberal system of 'free market' finance and monopoly capitalism. more...
Piglets living in cruel and unhygienic conditions on a factory farm somewhere in the UK Photo: FarmsNotFactories.

Superbug-infected pigs get into Britain unchecked, contaminate food chain

Andrew Wasley / Bureau of Investigative Journalism

14th October 2016

Regulatory failures are allowing Danish pigs infected with lethal antibiotic-resistant bacteria into British farms, writes Andrew Wasley, with contaminated pork found in UK supermarkets, and three human infections recorded. The official response? Deny there's a problem, take no action, and hope for the best. Six people may have died from the bug in Denmark, but the UK is safe, surely? more...
Is there more in your supermarket meat than you bargained for? Like antibiotic resistant bacteria? Photo: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr (CC BY).

Supermarkets must act on farm antibiotics!

Emma Rose

11th October 2016

Hot on the heels of the recent revelations of antibiotic-resistant bacteria on UK meat, a new Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calls on supermarkets to prohibit 'routine mass-medication of livestock' in their supply chains, and commit to 'drastic reductions' in farm use of critically important antibiotics. Make sure your MP signs! more...

Biofuels from seaweed?

Laura Briggs

12th October, 2016

Seaweed is known for its culinary uses and has seen a renaissance in past years thanks to its health claims and a distinctive taste - but there are more ecological benefits to seaweed that currently remain untapped. more...
A keyboard player, blind from birth due to a genetic defect induced by Agent Orange, performing at the War Remnants Museum. Photo: Mick Grant.

First Agent Orange, now Roundup: what's Monsanto up to in Vietnam? Ecologist Special Investigation

Mick Grant

10th October 2016

With the International Monsanto Tribunal beginning this week (14-16 October) in The Hague, MICK GRANT reports from Vietnam with this special investigation for The Ecologist five decades after the company's lethal herbicide Agent Orange first devastated the country - and discovers the agribusiness giant is sneaking its way back into Vietnam with modern herbicides and 'Roundup-Ready' GMO crops. more...

The Ethical Foodie: We should 'meat' less often...

Tim Maddams

4th October, 2016

Ethical Foodie chef TIM MADDAMS puts the blame for the animal welfare abuses we reported recently at the door of consumers who are turning a blind eye to the true cost of cheap meat more...
Mark Lynas, Kevin Folta, Bill Gates ... the chair is yours to make the case for GMO crops. Or are you chicken? Photo: Hernán Piñera via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

GMO debate: why are Cornell biotech boosters 'chicken'?

Jonathan Latham

4th October 2016

The purported mission of the Cornell Alliance for Science is to explain the science underlying biotechnology and GMOs, writes Jonathan Latham. So with a debate on the issue taking place tomorrow, 5th October, on the Cornell campus, how come CAS can't find a single speaker prepared to defend their zealously pro-GM stance? more...
Cover shot of trapped badger used for the new edition of 'The Fate of the Badger' by Richard Meyer, published by Fire-raven Writing.

'The Fate of the Badger': the great badger scapegoating conspiracy

Lesley Docksey

11th October 2016

Thirty years ago, there was no evidence that badgers spread bovine TB among cattle, writes Lesley Docksey. Nor is there now. Yet badgers are still being slaughtered in a futile attempt to control the disease. This timely republication of Richard Meyer's 1986 book reveals the belligerent ignorance of the officials, politicians and farmers driving the failed policy. more...
Clouds cast their fast moving shadows across the rolling arable farmlands of South Africa's Western Cape region, where production will become increasingly stretched with warming climate. Photo: Christopher Griner via Flickr (CC BY).

Climate food crunch demands sustainable food system

Tim Radford

27th September 2016

Global food production may need to double over the next century to feed a growing world population, writes Tim Radford - just as yields crops in major crop-growing areas fall due to higher temperatures. But there is another way: to build sustainability into our food production and consumption. more...

Farming: 1/25 of 1452
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Permaculture 'inventor' Bill Mollison, who died this weekend. Photo: Permaculture Association / Magazine.

Peaceful warrior: Permaculture visionary Bill Mollison

Permaculture Association / Magazine

26th September 2016

Australian educator, author and co-inventor of Permaculture, Bruce Charles 'Bill' Mollison, died on the 24 September 2016 in Sisters Creek, Tasmania. He has been praised across the world for his visionary work, and left behind a global network of 'peaceful warriors' in over 100 countries working tirelessly to fulfill his ambition to build harmony between humanity and Mother Earth. more...
Could a legal, regulated trade in rhino horn help save these wonderful animals by paying for their conservation and taking the profit out of poaching? Photo: rhino on the Eastern Cape, South Africa, by Colin via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

To save our rhinos, we need a legal horn trade

Keith Somerville, University of Kent

22nd September 2016

The trade ban on rhino horn is not working, writes Keith Somerville. But non-lethally and sustainably harvested rhino horn can earn income to encourage breeders, pay rangers and anti-poaching teams, provide surveillance and supply wider benefits that will gain the support of people around parks, reserves and ranches. more...
Piglets living in cruel and unhygienic conditions on a factory farm somewhere in the UK Photo: FarmsNotFactories.

To stop antibiotic resistant superbugs, keep off factory farmed meat!

Alastair Kenneil

21st September 2016

All 193 UN states will sign a declaration today to fight the spread of drug-resistant 'superbugs', writes Alastair Kenneil. The problem is often blamed on over­prescription of antibiotics by doctors. But that's to ignore the massive use of antibiotics on animals in factory farms, both to prevent infection and to assist weight gain - turning farms into superbug breeding centres. more...
Fresh organic 'Heirloom' garlic from New Roots Farm in Newmarket NH, at the Portsmouth, NH farmer's market. Photo: ilovebutter via Flickr (CC BY).

Why the sustainable food movement is unstoppable: it's the philosophy!

Jonathan Latham, PhD

3rd October 2016

Members of the food movement share an infectious vision, writes Jonathan Latham - one which is constructive, convivial, classless, raceless, international, and embraces the whole world. Unled yet inspirational, it rests on a novel, harmonious philosophy that combines science, recognition of planetary boundaries, and the universal need for wholesome sustenance. more...
Monsanto Graph' in Abode of Chaos by Thierry Ehrmann, Saint Romain en Mont d'Or, France. Photo: Urban Scraper via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Bayer-Monsanto merger - corporate madness or a moment of possibility?

Pat Thomas

19th September 2016

With the Wall Street Journal warning that the GMO crop boom may be over in the face of superweeds, higher seed prices, falling yields and farmer antipathy, writes Pat Thomas, the Monsanto-Bayer merger is a sign of weakness as both companies struggle to deliver growth and profits to match shareholder expectations. We had better be ready to press home our advantage! more...
Yanomami children in their forest home - which, with notorious 'Soy King' Bairo Maggi as agriculture minister, is now looking decidedly less secure. Photo: Dung Nguyen via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Brazil’s new government to sacrifice the Amazon for 'growth'

Ed Atkins, University of Bristol

19th September 2016

It's not that Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's ousted President, was wonderful for the environment, writes Ed Atkins. It's that Michel Temer's new regime is certain to be far worse. Plans are afoot to weaken environmental assessments for large projects like mines, roads and dams. And the new Minister of Agriculture is a notorious campaigner for hugely increased deforestation. more...
'Resistance is Fertile - Compost Capitalism !' Banner at Occupy Oakland protest against GMOs, 10th December 2011. Photo: Lily Rhoads via Flickr (CC BY).

Monsanto and Bayer: food and agriculture just took a turn for the worse

Colin Todhunter

16th September 2016

Bayer's $66 billion takeover of Monsanto represents another big click on the ratchet of corporate power over farming and food, writes Colin Todhunter. With the 'big six' of global agribusiness now set to turn into the 'even bigger three', farmers and consumers are facing more GMOs and pesticides, less choice, and deeper price gouging. Agroecology has never looked more attractive. more...
Who ate all the pies? Robin redbreast on an English farm. Photo: John Bennett via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

'State of Nature' 2016 report shows continued loss of Britain's biodiversity

Susan Clark

14th September 2016

The 2016 'State of Nature' report, published today, offers many small victories to celebrate, writes SUSAN CLARK, but overall it's not good news: 15% of our native species are under threat of extinction, while 53% are in decline. With intensive farming the main cause of the damage, and climate change a serious long term problem, turning the tide of wildlife attrition will be a long and challenging task. more...
Weeds in farmers' crops - like these poppies in an oilseed rape field near Thirsk - may reduce profit margins - but they are hardly a 'serious danger to plant health'. Photo: James West via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

EFSA creates 'plant health' loophole for banned weedkillers

Oliver Tickell

8th September 2016

The EU's food and farming safety regulator is trying to create a 'back door' system to licence the use of herbicides that have been banned for their toxic impacts on people and wildlife - under a clearly inapplicable 'plant health' exemption. more...
Jerusalem artichoke harvest at Sandy Lane Farm, Oxfordshire. Photo: Sandy lane Farm via Facebook.

Good nutrition begins in healthy soils

Patrick Holden

7th September 2016

There's no such thing as 'healthy food' if it's not produced by sustainable farming systems on living soils, Patrick Holden told the recent 'Food: The Forgotten Medicine' conference. But after 70 years of industrial farming, there's a huge job to be done to restore our depleted soils and the impoverished genetic diversity of our seeds and crops. more...

Shocking cruelty and welfare breaches to livestock on their way to and at British abbatoirs

Andrew Wasley and Josh Robbins

Thousands of British farm animals are subjected to needless pain and distress - six times a day on average - as they are slaughtered according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. more...
Suffolk farmland at dusk. Photo: Jimmy - S via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Dark days ahead for British agriculture? Or green shoots of a brighter future?

Keith Tyrell / PAN UK

25th August 2016

With Brexit the UK will have to chose between two visions of our farming future, writes Keith Tyrell. Will it be heavily subsidised corporate agribusiness that ravages both nature and small, high quality farmers. Or will we seize the chance to build a sustainable food and farming system that supports wildlife, landscape, family farms, organic production and diverse rural economies? more...
English badger. Photo: Kentish Plumber via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

England's £100m badger cull extensions condemned

The Ecologist

23rd August 2016

England is about to extend its badger cull policy to five new areas of the country, proving that only that science is a dead letter to May's conservative government as it was to Cameron's. While bovine TB infections in cattle rise in the existing cull areas, Wales has just achieved a cull-free 14% reduction. more...


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