Archive for November 2010

The case of the great food bubble

Gambling on food prices was a driver of the 2007-08 crisis and it’s time to take action against this practice, says Julian Oram.

Julian Oram

I don’t consider myself to be an especially intuitive person and I’m pretty sure I’d make a lousy detective. But a few years ago something happened on an international scale which roused my suspicions: the price of food was rising fast.
Between January 2007 and June 2008, maize prices shot up by 74%, wheat prices by 124%, and rice by 224%. In Britain, this led to grumblings about the rising cost of a loaf of bread. But across Asia, Africa and Latin America, riots erupted as the price of basic foodstuffs became unaffordable to poor households and millions went hungry. It was, without doubt, a major world crisis.
Continue reading The case of the great food bubble

We need to move toward more sustainable agriculture practices that use the best of all approaches – including organic, GM and non-GM biotechnology, says David Howlett.

David Howlett

In achieving global food security, agriculture is part of the problem and part of the solution to climate change.

While we need to better understand greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture we do know they are significant. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that direct emissions are about 14% of global emissions (similar to those from transport) and emissions from deforestation are 17% of global emissions – but because farming is a major driver of deforestation the majority of these are due to agriculture.
Continue reading Combining tactics for triple wins in agriculture

Simple production changes could benefit farmers and the environment, says Philip Thornton.

Philip Thornton

Livestock enterprises contribute substantially to the world’s greenhouse gases, largely through deforestation to make room for livestock grazing and feed crops, the methane ruminant animals give off, and the nitrous oxide emitted by manure.  Estimates of this contribution vary widely (10-18% (PDF), or more, of global greenhouse-gas emissions) and are still being researched – it’s a complex question and hotly debated.  
Continue reading Reducing carbon hoofprints and increasing tropical farming incomes