The Ecologist


farming: 50/75 of 1454
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Red clover cover crop at Sandy Lane Farm, Oxfordshire: it may not be high-tech, but that's not to say it's anti-science! Photo: Sandy Lane Farm via Facebook.

Organic farmers are not anti-science - we leave that to the genetic engineers

Elizabeth Henderson

24th May 2016

Those opposed to the mass release of GM crops and foods inadequately tested for health and ecological safety are routinely accused of being anti-science, writes Elizabeth Henderson. But it's the GM corporations and their academic allies that are suppressing scientific research, and organic farmers that are building alliances with independent scientists for a future of safe, healthy food. more...
Badger, seen at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

Alas poor Brock! The insanity of the badger cull

Martin Hancox

27th May 2016

The lives of all the thousands of badgers slaughtered in the name of TB eradication have been lost in vain, writes Martin Hancox. The cryptic reservoir of bovine TB is the cattle themselves, and no amount of badger killing will make the slightest difference to the problem. Once we have grasped this reality the solution is astonishingly simple: improved TB testing that picks up all infected cattle. more...
Once a mangrove forest full of life, now a sterile shrimp farm. The hard labour of destroying mangrove forests and building and operating shrimp farms is often performed by slaves. Photo: Tracy Hunter via Flickr (CC BY).

World must end slavery - for the environment as well as human rights

Kevin Bales, University of Hull

18th May 2016

Slavery is a terrible thing for the world's estimated 36 million slaves, writes Kevin Bales. But it's also an environmental disaster. Many slaves are forced to work in destructive activities like clearing forests for mines, farms and plantations - making slave labour the world's third biggest 'country' in terms of CO2 emissions. It really is time to end slavery! more...
There are 300,000 landless 'family farmers' in Paraguay - but there's always plenty of pasture for the cattle of the latifundistas who own most of the land. Photo: Pozo Colorado, Paraguay by Arcadiuš via Flickr (CC BY).

Amid corruption, poverty and violence, Paraguay's rural poor fight for land and freedom

Toby Hill

27th May 2016

The closing down of a community radio station in eastern Paraguay is the latest example of political repression in the country with the most unequal land distribution in Latin America, writes Toby Hill, and in which the media are dominated by a tiny elite of the super-rich. As small farmers begin to reclaim the land that is rightfully theirs, landowners and the state they control are striking back. more...
Farmers on the storm ... Madhya Pradesh, 31st July 2013. Photo: Rajarshi MITRA via Flickr (CC BY).

Militarism and Monsanto or Gandhi and Bhaskar Save? The agroecology alternative

Colin Todhunter

9th May 2016

The corporate war on traditional farming is nowhere fiercer than in India, writes Colin Todhunter. After decades of the 'Green Revolution' that have impoverished the nation's soils, water, biodiversity and cultivators alike, agribusiness is poised for its final strike. But now the small scale farmers who produce most of the country's food are rediscovering ancient agroecological alternatives. more...
Sumatran orangutans have lost huge areas of forest habitat to logging, burning and palm oil plantations. Photo: Richard Whitcombe.

Good news for the only place on Earth where tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants live together

Bill Laurance, James Cook University

10th May 2016

The remarkable Leuser ecosystem in Aceh, Sumatra, has faced massive destruction over recent years with rice farms, palm oil, roads and mines, writes Bill Laurance. But that's all set to end with a moratorium on forest clearance that's supported at the highest levels of government, both state and national. This is definitely news to celebrate! But we must also maintain our vigilance. more...
Commercial almond orchards in the US receive some 2.1 million pounds of glyphosate a year - hence the strips of bare earth beneath these trees near Vernalis, along 132 west of Modesto, CA. Photo: Tom Hilton via Flickr (CC BY).

Withdrawn: the EPA's memo on the increasing use of glyphosate on food crops

Carey Gillam / USRTK

10th May 2016

The EPA's release of an internal memorandum last month showing the increasing use of the cancer-linked weedkiller glyphosate looked like a welcome opening up of information to the public, writes Carey Gillam. But then it was suddenly withdrawn, along with other related documents - though not before she grabbed her copy and reviewed the scale and scope of glyphosate usage. more...
When UK farmers spray their fields with pesticides close to rural homes, residents get no protection, and bizarre court rulings have effectively denied them their legal rights. Photo: Aqua Mechanical via Flickr (CC BY).

From Hillsborough to pesticides: establishment cover-ups, lies and corruption

Georgina Downs

4th May 2016

The British establishment does nothing quite so well as lies, cover-ups and high-level corruption, writes Georgina Downs - whether it's the Hillsborough disaster or permitting polluters to poison us. Georgina won her own High Court legal victory protecting rural residents from pesticide exposure as long ago as 2008 - only to have it snatched away as Court of Appeal judges closed ranks. more...
With the rains failing, desperate farmers head to the Spiny Forest to make charcoal. Photo: Louise Jasper (

Climate-afflicted farmers are turning Madagascar's Spiny Forest into charcoal

Charlie Gardner, University of Kent

3rd May 2016

Madagascar's unique Spiny Forest, a stronghold for the island's lemurs, is fast being felled for charcoal, writes Charlie Gardner - and it's a knock-on impact of the increasingly unpredictable climate and sparse rains that are forcing farmers from the land. To create a 'safety net' for the forest, first safety nets must be put in place to protect displaced farmers, fishers and pastoralists. more...
Ruth & Alex at the Steepholding, Greenham Reach. Photo: Walter Lewis.

Feeding body and soul - an exploration of Britain's new age landworkers

Walter Lewis

12th May 2016

For most of 2015 Walter Lewis travelled around England and Wales meeting and photographing people producing food outside the confines of mainstream agriculture - working out of a passion for the earth and the Earth rather than for commercial gain. He completed his exploration inspired, and determined to spread word of quiet revolution under way across the fields of Britain. more...
Bee on oilseed rape flower. Photo: ejausberg via Pixabay (Public Domain).

Defra stands up for bees: 'No' to NFU's neonic application

Oliver Tickell

13th May 2015

A damning expert critique of the National Farmers Union's application to use banned bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticide seed treatment on a third of England's oilseed rape crop this autumn has forced the UK government to refuse the NFU's demand. more...
A dust storm hits Jordan's  Zaatari refugee camp on 29th July 2012 shortly after it was established ear the northern city of Mafraq. Photo: European Commission DG ECHO via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Jordan grapples with the environmental consequences of its refugee crisis

Doug Weir

27th April 2016

Since 1948 Jordan has taken in millions of refugees from Palestine, Iraq and most recently Syria, writes Doug Weir. Politically and economically the country has proved astonishingly resilient - but the population increase has caused huge damage to its fragile environment. Ecological degradation, pollution and resource scarcity may cause political instability unless more is done to tackle the problems. more...

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Loure's personal experiences, cultural background, and education put him in a unique position to lead the Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), an NGO that has championed community land rights and sustainable development in northern Tanzania for the past

Securing communal land rights for Tanzania's Indigenous Peoples

Sophie Morlin-Yron

25th April 2016

Commuting between land rights negotiations in the city and herding goats on the plains, Edward Loure is at once a traditional Maasai and a modern urbanite, writes Sophie Morlin-Yron. That ability to straddle the two very different worlds he inhabits has been key to his success at having 200,000 acres of land registered into village and community ownership - and his own 2016 Goldman Prize. more...
91% of all deforestation in the Amazon occurs to make way for cattle ranches like the one shown here. Photo: Jai Mansson via Flickr (CC BY-SA)

Eat less meat to reforest the Earth!

Laura Kehoe

27th April 2016

How do you solve a problem like deforestation? By a change of diet, writes Laura Kehoe. Scientists have discovered that we can feed the world and stop destroying forests by eating less meat. If we all went vegetarian that would reduce deforestation by 94%. And if we went the whole way to veganism enough land would be freed up for a new forest the size of the Amazon, and allow a widespread shift to organic farming systems. more...
Chafer Sentry applying glyphosate to stubbles in North Yorkshire on a sunny December day. Photo: Chafer Machinery via Flickr (CC BY).

The beginning of the end for glyphosate?

Peter Melchett / Soil Association

15th April 2016

The European Parliament just voted to re-authorise glyphosate, writes Peter Melchett - but with significant restrictions on its use. So what does the vote mean for the world's biggest selling herbicide? And how come the UK's National Farmers' Union welcomed the decision as an unqualified victory? more...
Photo: Burger, Louisiana, USA by Ed Fisher aka gleam via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

We are being silently poisoned: the case against glyphosate

Colin Todhunter

14th April 2016

The 'cancer industry', including charities with close links to chemicals corporations, is always keen to blame cancer victims for their morally deficient lifestyles, writes Colin Todhunter. But the real fault lies with the commercial interests touting bad food, nutritionally unbalanced and laced with toxic agrochemicals - like the ubiquitous glyphosate - and their residues. more...
Failed Bt Brinjal crop in Bangladesh, afflicted by the bacterial wilt to which the variety is highly prone, resulting in near total crop loss for many farmers in 2015. Photo: UBINIG.

BBC's GMO coverage 'fair and accurate'? You decide

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

14th April 2016

There's absolutely no evidence for BBC Panorama's claim of 90% success for Bt brinjal in Bangladesh, writes Claire Robinson. But that has not stopped the BBC Trust from dismissing all complaints against its monstrously dishonest report. Nor has it diminished the jubilation of GMO cheerleaders. more...
Monsanto's 'probably carcinogenic' Roundup on open retails sale. Photo: Mike Mozart via Flickr (CC BY).

European Parliament votes to ban most uses of glyphosate

Oliver Tickell

13th April 2016

The EU Parliament has responded to the health concerns of millions by calling on the Commission to severely restrict permitted uses of the toxic herbicide glyphosate, including an effective ban on pre-harvest dessication of crops. more...
He's got the whole world in his hands! Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant at the Fortune Global Forum, Tuesday 3rd November 2015. Photo: Fortune Global Forum via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

While we all fixate on glyphosate, Monsanto prepares its next GM trick: RNA pesticides

JP Sottile

11th April 2016

The global pesticide and bioscience giant Monsanto is a byword for evil for millions of campaigners and concerned citizens, writes JP Sottile. But that has never stopped it getting its way with the people that matter - politicians and regulators. And now the company is on the verge of biggest victory ever - winning clearance to spray biologically active RNA sequences on US crops. more...
Patrick Holden with his dairy herd. Photo: Steph French ( / 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...
A farmer stands amidst a rice farm in Burundi, Africa. Photo: IRRI via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Philanthropic colonialism: embedding agribusiness and GMOs into African agriculture

Colin Todhunter

8th April 2016

Perhaps all the 'do gooders' busy forcing industrial models of agriculture onto poor but independent African farmers really do think they are helping them, writes Colin Todhunter. But if so they are deeply deluded. All they will achieve is the takeover of export-oriented agribusiness and GMOs, the destruction of agroecological farming systems, and a future of debt and landlessness. more...
Breakfast at McDonalds in Maddur, Karnataka, India. Photo: Harsha K R via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

India: obesity, malnutrition and the globalisation of bad food

Colin Todhunter

4th April 2016

India's food system, essentially clean just a generation ago, has been comprehensively contaminated with sugar, bad fats, synthetic additives, GMOs and pesticides under the country's neoliberal 'great leap forwards', writes Colin Todhunter. The result? a surge in obesity, diabetes and cancer incidence, but no let-up in the under-nutrition of those too poor to join in the over-consumption. 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...
If we ate more of this, the world would be a cleaner and healthier place! Fruit vendor in Devaraj Market, Mysore, India. Photo: Christopher Fynn via Flickr (CC BY).

Going veggie could save slash emissions and prevent 8 million deaths a year

Marco Springmann

31st March 2016

Oxford researchers have quantified the benefits of the world becoming vegetarian, writes Marco Springmann. Their study shows that simple changes - like moving to diets low in meat and high in fruit and vegetables - could lead to significant reduction in mortality and health care costs, while cutting food sector greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds. more...
Nigerian farmers like her see no benefit from GM crops, only pain and poverty. Photo: Conflict & Development at Texas A&M via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)

Nigerians say no to Monsanto's GM crops

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers

30th March 2016

Groups representing over 5 million Nigerians are resisting Monsanto's attempt to introduce GM maize and cotton, writes Vanessa Amaral-Rogers. With growing evidence of harm to human health and environment, and failing GM crops in other countries, they say Monsanto's applications must be refused. more...


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