United Nations Say Small-Scale Organic Farming Is The Future Of Food Production

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Farming in rich and poor nations alike should shift from monoculture towards greater varieties of crops, reduced use of fertilizers and other inputs, greater support for small-scale farmers, and more locally focused production and consumption of food, a new UNCTAD report recommends.

The Trade and Environment Report 2013 warns that continuing rural poverty, persistent hunger around the world, growing populations, and mounting environmental concerns must be treated as a collective crisis. It says that urgent and far-reaching action is needed before climate change begins to cause major disruptions to agriculture, especially in developing countries.

The report, subtitled Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate, was released today. More than 60 international experts contributed to the report’s analysis of the topic. The study notes that the sheer scale at which production methods would have to be modified under these proposals would pose considerable challenges. In addition, it would be necessary to correct existing imbalances between where food is produced and where it is needed, to reduce the power asymmetries that exist in agricultural input and food-processing markets, and to adjust current trade rules for agriculture.

The Trade and Environment Report 2013 recommends a rapid and significant shift away from “conventional, monoculture-based… industrial production” of food that depends heavily on external inputs such as fertilizer, agro-chemicals, and concentrate feed. Instead, it says that the goal should be “mosaics of sustainable regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers and foster rural development”. The report stresses that governments must find ways to factor in and reward farmers for currently unpaid public goods they provide – such as clean water, soil and landscape preservation, protection of biodiversity, and recreation.

Climate change will drastically impact on agriculture, the report forecasts, primarily in the developing regions with the highest future population growth, such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Much slower agricultural productivity growth in the future and fast-rising populations in the most vulnerable regions will almost certainly worsen current problems with hunger, drought, rising food prices, and access to land. These pressures may easily lead to massive migrations, and to international tensions and conflicts over food and resources such as soil and water.

The report cites a number of trends that collectively suggest a mounting crisis:
• Food prices from 2011 to mid-2013 were almost 80 per cent higher than for the period 2003–2008;
• Global fertilizer use has increased by eight times over the past 40 years, although global cereal production has only doubled during that period;
• Growth rates in agricultural productivity have recently declined from 2 per cent per year to below 1 cent;
• Two types of irreparable environmental damage have already been caused by agriculture: nitrogen contamination of soil and water, and loss of biodiversity;
• Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are the single biggest source of global warming in the South. They also the fastest growing (along with emissions from transport);
• Foreign land acquisition in developing countries (often termed “land grabbing”) in recent years has amounted, in value, to between five and ten times the level of official development assistance.

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Astronauts To Grow Lettuce In Space Station

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Astronauts longing for fresh lettuce in orbit will soon have the chance to grow it for themselves: NASA is sending a mini-farm into space.

When the private spaceflight company SpaceX launches its next Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station on Monday (April 14), the capsule will be carrying a small plant growth chamber built to let astronauts grow “Outredgeous” lettuce in orbit.

The goal of the Veg-01 experiment, nicknamed “Veggie”, is to see how well plants grow in orbit. If these early tests go well and the food proves safe, scientists hope to expand the menu.

“Veggie will provide a new resource for U.S. astronauts and researchers as we begin to develop the capabilities of growing fresh produce and other large plants on the space station,” said Gioia Massa, NASA payload scientist for Veggie, in a statement. “Determining food safety is one of our primary goals for this validation test.”

Space is at a premium on a spacecraft and also on the International Space Station, so the Veggie chamber is built to collapse for transportation and when it is in storage. When fully deployed, it’s about a 1.5-feet (X meters) long, making it the biggest such plant chamber in space to date.

A version of the chamber has been tested on the ground, where lettuce and radishes were successfully grown at the Kennedy Space Center’s space life sciences laboratory. Veggie was developed by Madison, Wis.-based Orbital Technologies Corp.

NASA’s Veggie experimental space farm is slated to launch on SpaceX’s Dragon capsule at 4:58 p.m. EDT (2058 GMT). Visit Space.com for complete coverage of the Dragon mission to the International Space Station.

LINK: http://www.space.com/25478-astronauts-space-lettuce-nasa-veggie-farm.html

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Survival: Highgrove – Natures Kingdom

The first (1993) in-depth television examination of Prince Charles work on his estate at Highgrove in Gloucestershire, it particularly concentrates on the wildlife he has there I found. Cameraman Maurice Tibbles spent 18 months filming the story through the changing seasons and focuses on the Princes commitment to organic farming and conservation.

I liked this look into all wild life and their systems on an organic farm, a side you don’t always get to see in agricultural and horticultural documentaries. People seemed to like previous posts I made regarding a look at Highgrove so thought I’d share this as well.

Prince Charles Speech On The Future Of Food

I really enjoyed this talk by Prince Charles on sustainable food production, couldn’t fault it what so ever really, I particularly liked the part he discussed regarding farming subsidies and a redistribution of funds towards more sustainable systems of production. Make sure you watch the full talk to get the full context of his argument for including the “true cost” of how we are currently producing food and why it is we need to change.

The Prince of Wales told an audience of students and faculty (in May 4 2011) that the model of food production prevalent in the 21st century world just doesn’t work. This was at the “The Future of Food” at Georgetown University, hosted by Washington Post Live.

“We will have to develop much more sustainable, or durable forms of food production because the way we have done things up to now are no longer as viable as they once appeared to be,”

I suppose if your lazy, busy or have a short attention span you could watch this quick 10 minute speech he done on the same issue:

Surviving Together: Growing the Future

I loved this little clip about the excellent opportunities that can come from mushroom growing from one side of the world to the another. Great avenue I feel for alleviating poverty as well as helping rid the world of malnutrition and starvation. Fantastic recycling model as well as sustainable business model. So from growing mushrooms for your self to feeding your community, mushrooms as a great option to pursue. Mush more on mushroom cultivation to follow in coming weeks.

“FREELAND community outreach projects are giving ex-poachers a way to escape poverty and crime by establishing their own organic and sustainable mushroom growing businesses.”

If you want to learn more about organic mushroom growing and the Freeland organisation then check out this free 60 page booklet they provide: http://issuu.com/freelandfoundation/docs/freelandorganicmushroomcultivationmanual_english_p

IPCC Report: Climate Change Felt On All Continents And Across The Oceans

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Leaked text of blockbuster report says changes in climate have already caused impacts on natural and human systems

Climate change has already left its mark “on all continents and across the oceans”, damaging food crops, spreading disease, and melting glaciers, according to the leaked text of a blockbuster UN climate science report due out on Monday.

Government officials and scientists are gathered in Yokohama this week to wrangle over every line of a summary of the report before the final wording is released on Monday – the first update in seven years.

Nearly 500 people must sign off on the exact wording of the summary, including the 66 expert authors, 271 officials from 115 countries, and 57 observers.

But governments have already signed off on the critical finding that climate change is already having an effect, and that even a small amount of warming in the future could lead to “abrupt and irreversible changes”, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

“In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans,” the final report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will say.

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Nasa-funded Study: Industrial Civilisation Headed For Irreversible Collapse?

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Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system

A new study partly-sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”

The independent research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary ‘Human And Nature DYnamical’ (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The HANDY model was created using a minor Nasa grant, but the study based on it was conducted independently. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.

It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:

“The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent.”

By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.
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