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Digital Green records a discussion on best agronomic practice with an Ethiopian farmer for dissemination among his peers. Photo: Digital Green.

New technologies can help poor farmers - just not the ones you're thinking of

Tony Juniper

18th November 2014

Modern technology has a lot to offer small farmers in poor countries, writes Tony Juniper - just not the GMOs and pesticides that are widely touted. But how about film, digital communications and smart phones? These new media can empower farmers and allow them to share knowledge and experience of how to produce more, from less. more...
No neonics here: organic Brussels sprouts from Home Farm, Nacton. Photo: Nick Saltmarsh via Flickr.

Farming for profit? Or for people, nature, health, wellbeing and human survival?

Colin Tudge

19th November 2014

Farming today is well on the way to becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the agro-chemical-biotech industry, writes Colin Tudge. Defra and the European Commission are all too keen to make it so, reflecting the interests of an agro-oligarchy obsessed with profits and growth at all costs. But there is an alternative. Join the 'real farming' agrarian renaissance ... more...
With GMO agriculture, a walk in the countryside could be like this in the future. Photo: Liam Wilde via Flickr.

Living with GMOs - a letter from America

The Undersigned

12th November 2014

NGOs, scientists, anti-GM groups, celebrities, food manufacturers, and others representing 57 million Americans today publish an Open Letter to the UK and the entire EU warning of the serious and manifold hazards of GMO crops - and promising their support in our fight against them. more...
In the future, European corn fields like this on in Poland could be GMO. But at least the EU can no longer force its member states to allow GMOs to be planted. Photo: Maciek via Flickr.

Euro Parliament strengthens national GMO opt-outs

Keith Taylor MEP

11th November 2014

An attempt by the UK's Conservative Party and its allies to force countries to allow EU-approved GMO crops has been defeated by the European Parliament, writes Keith Taylor. Instead MEPs voted to strengthen the national GMO opt-out. But the UK still has a battle to fight against its avidly pro-GMO government. more...
Lorsban is sprayed on a soccer pitch to control grubs, 1987. Photo: srv007 via Flickr.

Chlorpyrifos - cause of birth defects, mental impairment - sprayed on farms across the US

Janette D. Sherman

15th November 2014

Dow's teratogenic pesticide chlorpyrifos is a human and environmental disaster, writes Janette D. Sherman. It causes serious, irreversible damage to the human foetus even at low concentrations that may be harmless to the mother, resulting in severely and permanently disabled and mentally damaged children. But it's still sprayed in vast quantities on America's farms. more...
Spaying agro-chemicals on a windy day. Photo: Graham Rawlings via Flickr.

Agricultural pesticides - the gaping hole in the UK's 'Pollinator Strategy'

Georgina Downs

6th November 2014

The Government's 'National Pollinator Strategy' has a fatal flaw, writes Georgina Downs - it contains no meaningful measures to address farmers' spraying of highly toxic pesticides, often in mixtures that can further increase the harm they cause. And with 80% of the UK's pesticides used in agriculture, that's setting the 'strategy' up to fail. more...
Organic apples from the tree. Photo: Veronica Olivotto via Flickr.

A tale of two apple farms - can big be beautiful for organic growers?

Andrew Wasley

11th November 2014

The organic movement faces a dilemma. Should it hold to its roots and stick with traditional production methods and local distribution? Or embrace technology and supermarkets, and feed as many mouths as possible? Andrew Wasley meets two very different organic apple producers ... more...
Bill Gates speaking at Stanford University. Photo: Thomas Hawk via Flickr.

Gates Foundation 'feeds the world' with corporate agriculture

GRAIN

5th November 2014

The Gates Foundation is spending half a billion dollars a year to 'feed the world', most of it aimed at Africa. But as GRAIN discovers, it is imposing a model of high-tech, high-input 'green revolution' farming, complete with GMOs, agro-chemicals and a pro-business neoliberal agenda, all in in alliance with corporate agriculture. more...
Rice porage is the perfect food for weaning babies - apart from the sometimes high levels of arsenic. Photo: Arun Joseph via Flickr.

Rice can have high levels of arsenic - so why isn't it regulated in our food?

Andy Meharg

8th November 2014

Rice can often contain high levels of arsenic, writes Andy Meharg. But while levels of this highly toxic element are tightly regulated in water, the EU has set no limits for arsenic in food. This needs to change, fast - and until it does, be careful not to feed too much rice to babies and small children ... more...
Photo: Badgers in the wild by Tim Brookes via Flickr.

Badger Trust claims victory in the court of public opinion

The Ecologist

3rd November 2014

The Court of Appeal last month ruled that England's Badger cull is lawful despite the lack of independent supervision. But on the eve of a fresh Parliamentary debate, and with public opinion backing the badgers all the way, the Badger Trust is the clear winner where it really matters - in public hearts and minds. more...
Boston in bloom - sunflower at the Eglestone Community Orchard. Photo: Alvin Kho via Facebook.

Making it happen - a community orchard in downtown Boston

Orion Kriegman

7th November 2014

A orchard garden has taken root on a long-vacant lot in an economically and racially divided neighborhood of Boston, writes Orion Kriegman. In the making it has united a community, helped to heal deep scars of violence, and inspired a wider reclamation of the urban commons. more...
An enormous plantation cut from the Liberian rainforest. Photo: Chulius Caesar via Flickr.

Oil palm explosion driving West Africa's Ebola outbreak

Richard Kock

29th October 2014

The medical response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been monstrously inadequate, writes Richard Kock. But so has been recognition of the underlying causes - in particular the explosive spread of industrial oil palm, which disrupts the ecology of forests and farms, and undermines local economy and traditional governance, leading to a 'perfect storm' of disease. more...

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'The view from my sister's window'. Greenpoint, NY, NY. Photo: Susan via Flickr.

What if your backyard was a slaughterhouse?

Laura Lee Cascada

3rd November 2014

When three giggling teenage girls in an SUV called 'BACON' at Laura Lee Cascada as she conducted a peaceful slaughterhouse vigil, she realised - those girls don't yet realise that 'bacon' has a mom. And there is only one way to create that missing connection - through love, empathy, understanding and perseverance. more...
Farmers in Ghana marching against the Plant Breeders Bill, now before the country's parliament, September 2014. Photo: Food Sovereignty Ghana.

Ghana's farmers battle ‘Monsanto law' to retain seed freedom

Chris Walker & Oliver Tickell

24th October 2014

Ghana's government is desperate to pass a Plant Breeders Bill that would remove farmers' ancient 'seed freedom' to grow, retain, breed and develop crop varieties - while giving corporate breeders a blanket exemption from seed regulations. Now the farmers are fighting back. more...
'Small holder farming traditions run through my blood; there was no other way I would choose to farm, I would never run a farm that was cruel.' Tom, Bellair Haye Farm. Photo: Pig Pledge.

The future of family farming is in our hands

Holly Creighton-Hird

19th October 2014

Everyone loves family farming! And so they should, writes Holly Creighton-Hird, as family farms produce most of the world's food. But the UK Government has a funny way of showing it - favouring corporate agriculture and eliminating farm payments for small land holdings. It's up to us, the public, to support small, high welfare producers.
more...
With milkweed and other 'weeds' now facing the dual chemical assault of glyphosate and 2,4-D, what hope for the Monarch butterfly?

New seeds, old pesticides - 2,4-D and 'next generation' GMOs

Jim Goodman

27th October 2014

The US EPA has approved new GMO corn and soybean varieties resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D, writes Jim Goodman - and the highly toxic herbicide mix itself. In this latest escalation of the chemical war against nature there is one clear winner - Dow AgroSciences. But everyone else loses - farmers, consumers and our increasingly endangered wildlife. more...
Cattle are still driving deforestation in the Amazon - but a new wave of cash crop agriculture for palm oil and other commodities is on its way. Photo: Kate Evans for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) via Flickr.

Palm oil - the new threat to the Amazon

Alex Kirby

20th October 2014

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been sharply reduced in recent years, writes Alex Kirby. But analysts say that palm oil and other cash crops are set for a major expansion, while high demand for beef, and administrative chaos, may undermine efforts to reform the ranching sector. more...
Who needs vegetables when there's deep-fried Mars Bars to eat? Photo: karendesuyo via Flickr.

Scotland: time for a National Food Service?

Pete Ritchie & Miriam Ross

15th October 2014

The Scottish diet is famous for being the worst in Europe, write Pete Ritchie and Miriam Ross. Yet the country has rich land and sea resources, and exports large quantities of high quality food. By treating food as a common good instead of leaving the market to provide, Scots can start to transform their food future. more...
Famers in Sokoine, Tanzania, examine a drought tolerant maize variety developed by the nationally-owned seed company Tanseed International Limited. Photo: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center via Flickr.

Big Biotech's African seed takeover

The Ecologist

13th October 2014

Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Limagrain are among the companies to buy into Africa's indigenous seed companies. It's all part of the corporate takeover of the continent's agriculture at the expense of the small farmers who feed most of Africa's people. more...
Is France determined to put an end to this kind of farming? Cattle grazing in the marais d'Olonne, Vendée, in Western France. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra via Flickr.

France's 1,000 cow factory - a second battle of the Somme

Evan Jones

17th October 2014

For all France's rhetoric about supporting the small farmer, the authorities are bending legalities to push through the country's biggest dairy farm, writes Evan Jones. This reveals the 'socialist' government true loyalties: to subsidy-driven 'free trade', and industrial agriculture that pollutes, depopulates, unemploys - and generates vast profits for a powerful elite. more...
Fish exploding from the ocean off the North Carolina coast - but global fish stocks are doing no such thing. Photo: Jared Cherup via Flickr.

Plenty more fish in the sea? Not if we follow healthy eating guidelines

Ruth H. Thurstan & Callum Roberts

6th November 2014

Until demand for fish is balanced with sustainable methods of production, write Ruth Thurstan & Callum Roberts, governments should consider the social and environmental implications of promoting greater fish consumption. Worldwide, wild fish supplies per person have been declining ever since 1970. more...
Mariana Goméz Soto. Photo: Mariana Goméz Soto.

Gold is joy for one day - Mariana Goméz Soto

Hal Rhoades / Gaia Foundation

21st October 2014

Doima, a small town in the Colombian highlands, is on the front line of battle against a giant government-backed gold mine that would fill a nearby valley hundreds of metres deep in over a billion tonnes of mine waste. Hal Rhoades met Mariana Goméz Soto, an activist in Doima's campaign to defeat the mine project. more...
What was once the Aral Sea at Muinak, Qoraqalpoghiston, Uzbekistan. Photo: so11e via Flickr.

Once a Sea - now it's the Aral Desert

Anson Mackay

16th October 2014

The Aral Sea is a well known environmental disaster zone. But this year, it got a whole worse, writes Anson Mackay, as its biggest basin dried up completely to expose a toxic, salty wasteland. With continuing irrigation and declining river flows due to climate change, the desert is only set to expand. more...
Commercial agriculture is creating an uncertain future for tribes like the ancient Hamer. Photo: Matthew Newsome.

Ethiopian tribes' ancient ways threatened by UK-backed sugar project

Matthew Newsome

10th October 2014

A massive sugar plantation and up to 700,000 migrant workers will occupy almost 2,000 sq.km of Ethiopia's Omo Valley, with the help of British aid finance. But the valley's native inhabitants have been given no choice in the matter, and are being forced to abandon their homes, lands, cattle, and entire way of life, or go to jail. more...
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...

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