Sustainability

Category Archives: Agriculture and Food

A eureka moment for the planet: we’re finally planting trees again

After centuries of bad stewardship, communities are at last starting to see the benefits of forests.

China plans to plant forests the size of Ireland. Latin American countries have pledged to restore 20m hectares of degraded forest and African countries more than 100m hectares. India is to plant 13m hectares, and on a single day last year 1.5 million people planted 66m trees in Madhya Pradesh alone.

Much of Europe is physically greener than it was just a few years ago. England is to plant 50m trees in a new coast-to-coast forest and newly planted saplings now cover tens of thousands of hectares of former farmland in Ireland, Norway and France. From Costa Rica to Nepal and Peru to Mongolia, tree planting has become a political, economic and ecological cause, and a universal symbol of restoration, regrowth and faith in the future. More than 120 countries promised in 2015 to plant and restore large areas of forest as a response to the climate crisis, and the UN has set a target to restore 350m hectares by 2030 – an area bigger than India.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/13/worlds-lost-forests-returning-trees

‘Dangerous Drift-Prone Pesticide’ Threatens Millions of Acres, Hundreds of Endangered Species: Farmers and Conservationists Sue EPA, Monsanto

On Friday, public interest organizations representing farmers and conservationists made their legal case in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Monsanto Company, challenging EPA’s approval of Monsanto’s new “XtendiMax” pesticide. XtendiMax is Monsanto’s version of dicamba, an old and highly drift-prone weed-killer. EPA’s approval permitted XtendiMax to be sprayed for the first time on growing soybeans and cotton that Monsanto has genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to dicamba.

The papers filed in court tell the story of how EPA should have known this would occur, yet instead was pressured by Monsanto into approving the pesticide without any measures to prevent vapor drift. The evidence in the case also shows that in late 2017, under pressure to take some action, EPA adopted revised instructions for use Monsanto proposed and approved—measures that agronomists believe will again be ineffective.

https://www.ecowatch.com/pesticide-drift-lawsuit-xtendimax-2534117304.html

Whale and shark species at increasing risk from microplastic pollution – study

Large filter feeders, such as baleen whales and basking sharks, could be particularly at risk from ingesting the tiny plastic particles, say scientists.

Whales, some sharks and other marine species such as rays are increasingly at risk from microplastics in the oceans, a new study suggests.

Species such as baleen whales and basking sharks, which feed through filtering seawater for plankton, are ingesting the tiny particles of indigestible plastic which now appear to permeate oceans throughout the world. Some of these species have evolved to swallow hundreds or even thousands of cubic metres of seawater a day, but taking in microplastic can block their ability to absorb nutrients, and may have toxic side-effects.

The new study, published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, advises more research on the megafauna of the oceans, as the effects of microplastics on them is currently not well understood. Scientists have found, for instance through examining the bodies of beached whales, large pieces of plastic in the guts of such creatures, but the effect of microplastics, though less obvious, may be just as harmful.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/05/whale-and-shark-species-at-increasing-risk-from-microplastic-pollution-study

India’s farmed chickens dosed with world’s strongest antibiotics, study finds

Warning over wider global health impacts after findings reveal hundreds of tonnes of colistin – the ‘antibiotic of last resort’ – are being shipped to India’s farms.

Routine use of some of the strongest antibiotics, which doctors have said should be preserved for the most extreme cases lest resistance to them should increase and prevent their use for the diseases for which they are intended, is now a common practice in farming in the developing world. The consequences will be felt throughout the world because resistance to strong antibiotics is spread among organisms.

Germs with qualities that can make them dangerous to humans will, if untreated or poorly treated, mutate into more powerful pathogens that are resistant to treatment. Poor or inadequate public heath treatments assists this process, potentially spreading pathogens around the world.

A study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that hundreds of tonnes of colistin, described as an antibiotic of last resort, have been shipped to India for the routine treatment of animals, chiefly chickens, on farms.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/01/indias-farmed-chickens-dosed-with-worlds-strongest-antibiotics-study-finds

 

Huge levels of antibiotic use in US farming revealed

Livestock raised for food in the US are dosed with five times as much antibiotic medicine as farm animals in the UK, new data has shown, raising questions about rules on meat imports under post-Brexit trade deals.

The difference in rates of dosage rises to at least nine times as much in the case of cattle raised for beef, and may be as high as 16 times the rate of dosage per cow in the UK. There is currently a ban on imports of American beef throughout Europe, owing mainly to the free use of growth hormones in the US.

Higher use of antibiotics, particularly those that are critical for human health – the medicines “of last resort”, which the World Health Organisation wants banned from use in animals– is associated with rising resistance to the drugs and the rapid evolution of “superbugs” that can kill or cause serious illness.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/08/huge-levels-of-antibiotic-use-in-us-farming-revealed

 

Hemp Offers Benefits For The Future

The Polo Hemp Mill in Illinois began operation on November 20, 1943. At that time there were more than 3,200 hemp growers in the state.

Educational materials and propaganda videos such as “Victory for Hemp” were sponsored by the U.S. government, assuring cultivation would be backed by our military and economy.

Considering this happened 74 years ago this fall, we see the same struggles in the present-day relationship between farmers and industrial hemp in Illinois. This time around, a massive effort is required to establish sustainability and resilience within our agricultural system and the next economy, not the war effort.

Once again, farmers need assurance that hemp is a viable crop for their rotation and that hemp will not only benefit their pocketbooks as a fiber crop, but also is a powerful ally in environmental restoration.

Requiring little water and no fertilizers or pesticides to grow, hemp thrives in marginal soil. It removes chemicals that seep into waterways. It can replace paper products, reducing deforestation that encroaches on fragile ecosystems. And that’s just a start.

The market for hemp products is vast and growing rapidly. It includes durable textiles; strong, ecofriendly building materials; natural cosmetics; petroleum free bio-plastics and biofuels; beneficial, non-psychoactive medicines; and nutrient dense foods.

As a first-generation farmer, and a woman, I am so thrilled to have a future in hemp on my horizon. My devotion to this plant stems from a realization that regenerative agriculture is my only path to an honest living.

I’m Rachel Berry, and that’s my perspective.

http://northernpublicradio.org/post/hemp-offers-benefits-future

A Garden’s Glory brings healthy food to the community

A Garden’s Glory became the first Certified Naturally Grown farm in eastern Florida in November, and they’re gearing up for a season of events and markets this winter.

Farmer Ann Nyhuis received certification for her tender microgreens and sustainable growing practices.

Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) is a certification program for farmers and beekeepers who use natural practices, without any synthetic chemicals or GMOs, to produce food for their local communities.

Nyhuis decided to seek Certified Naturally Grown’s grassroots certification because CNG’s commitment to non-GMO, real food, grown in harmony with nature matched her farming philosophy.

You can find her Piatto Fresco takeaway microgreen plate at the Stuart Green Market or at www.agardensglory.com.

https://www.tcpalm.com/story/specialty-publications/your-news/martin-county/reader-submitted/2018/01/19/gardens-glory-brings-healthy-food-community/1046376001/

From Tree-Planting Drones to Shade-Grown Tea: Businesses Are Making Money by Reforesting the Planet

An estimated 15 billion trees are cut down each year—more than 41 million per day. Given this pace of land degradation, it’s hard to imagine how traditional reforestation methods, which rely on the hand-planting of live seedlings, could ever keep up. BioCarbon Engineering offers another way—a device, no more than two feet in height, that has the potential to plant 400,000 seeds per day—150 times faster than hand-planting carried out by a human.

http://www.wri.org/blog/2018/01/tree-planting-drones-shade-grown-tea-businesses-are-making-money-reforesting-planet

The Business of Planting Trees: A Growing Investment Opportunity

Planting trees as a business venture

The World Resources Institute (WRI) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) analyzed over 140 companies that have made landscape restoration and reforestation their core business model. Out of all those companies, 14 who had reached median sales growth of 100 percent in 2017, were showcased in a new report titled The Business of Planting Trees: A Growing Investment Opportunity.

The restoration economy, according to the report, refers to the network of businesses, investors, and consumers that engage in an economic activity related to restoring the land. And while there are no officials records on the size of the restoration economy, yet, it does include a vast array of companies, including early stage, pre-revenue startups to timber funds that manage billions of dollars. Similarly, the goods and services produced by these companies vary widely as well, from biofuels to climate-smart credit systems to green infrastructure.

Read more:  http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/startups-emerging-in-the-restoration-and-reforestation-economy/article/512592#ixzz54mz1NtfM

 

http://www.wri.org/publication/business-of-planting-trees

6 Ways To Reduce Your Exposure To Toxins, Without Driving Yourself Crazy

There are plenty of ways humans can be exposed to toxins like endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), carcinogenic and mutagenic pollutants, and harmful chemicals in personal care products and pharmaceuticals.

Regulation is in place to prevent, control, and mitigate the presence and the effects of these pollutants. But the chemical universe is large, and it’s unclear how much governmental regulatory bodies can protect us from potentially damaging exposures, so it’s important to recognize where we can take more control of our exposures and where we can’t.

These days, there is a lot of talk about “nontoxic living,” but it’s virtually impossible to live in a world that is totally free of toxins. Chemicals and other toxins are ubiquitous in our air, soil, water, and homes. Trying to be completely pure in what we do, eat, buy, and see can will just stress us out. With that being said, here are some action steps we can take that are within our control:

https://amp.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-much-to-actually-avoid-toxins

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