Daily Archives: December 22, 2017

IUCN Red List: Wild crops listed as threatened – BBC News

By Helen Briggs BBC News   5 December 2017

Wild relatives of modern crops deemed crucial for food security are being pushed to the brink of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

More than 20 rice, wheat and yam plants have been listed as threatened on the latest version of the IUCN’s Red list.

The wild plants are being squeezed out by intensive farming, deforestation and urban sprawl, say scientists.

Modern crops can be crossbred with their wild cousins to safeguard foods.

”To lose them would be a disaster,” said Dr Nigel Maxted of the University of Birmingham, who is co-chair of the IUCN’s specialist group on crop wild relatives.

”It would be much more difficult to maintain food security without them.”

Insurance policy

Commercial crops have lost genetic diversity. They are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which may bring drought, diseases and new pests.

Work is under way to breed new varieties of grains, cereals and vegetables by crossing them with tough, wild species that can grow in a range of habitats, such as mountains, deserts or salt marshes.

Image copyright L M Salazar/Crop Trust Image caption Researchers are collecting wild relatives of crops in Nepal

These efforts rely on protecting plants related to modern food crops at the sites where they grow in the wild as well as preserving their seeds in gene banks.

The first systematic assessment of wild wheat, rice and yam has led to the listing of three types of rice, two types of wheat (used to make bread) and 17 types of yam.

Marie Haga is Executive Director of The Crop Trust, an international organisation that is working to safeguard crop diversity.

…(read more).


Higher temperatures linked to EU asylum figures – BBC News

Sharp increases in the numbers of those seeking asylum in the European Union have been linked to higher temperatures in agricultural regions of the world.

Researchers found that when temperatures deviated from 20C in food growing areas of 103 countries, more people sought refuge abroad.

Around 660,000 extra applicants would be expected each year by 2100, the authors say, if current temperature trends continue.

The study appears in Science journal.

Between 2000 and 2014, around 350,000 people applied for asylum in the European Union every year. The majority came from countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

In this study, researchers examine these numbers and assess the role of what they call “weather shocks” in pushing people to seek asylum. The authors find that the numbers increase if the temperatures in the 103 countries they looked at were too warm or too cold. Warmer temperatures, defined as being above 20C, were seen as having a bigger impact.

The researchers found “a highly statistically significant relationship” between the number of asylum applications logged by the EU and average temperatures in the maize growing regions in countries like Pakistan.

…(read more).

Jared Kushner HUMILIATED on Live Television

David Pakman Show
Published on Dec 18, 2017

–Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, is interviewed at the Saban Forum on the topic of Israeli-Palestinian peace and his talking points get crushed by Israeli telecom billionaire Haim Saban

State of Forest Carbon Finance 2017 report

China’s announcement of its emissions trading scheme launch marks a big shift in carbon pricing as the world’s largest cap-and-trade program moves from the European Union to the east. The National Development and Reform Commission, builders of the cap-and-trade program, have added forestry and land-use carbon offset methodologies, and in the already-operational Chinese provincial programs, the eight participating provinces accept forestry and land-use CCERs and three of them (Beijing, Fujian, Guangdong) created their own forestry methodologies.

Many other – developed and developing – countries that are taking concrete steps to reduce their emissions as part of their Paris Agreement pledges see both the role of markets and forests in keeping those actions cost-effective.

In 2016, our State of Forest Carbon Finance 2017 report tracked seven markets in development that have indicated they will include forest carbon, and 18 voluntary or compliance forest carbon markets already in operation. To learn more about the report findings, read the press release or the full report.

With best wishes for the holidays and 2018,

Anne Thiel
Communications Manager
Forest Trends

‘Milestone’ reached in fighting deadly wheat disease – BBC News

Scientists say they have made a step forward in the fight against a wheat disease that threatens food security.

Wheat is a staple food crop, making up a fifth of the calories on our plates.

But in many parts of the world, the crop is being attacked by stem rust (black rust), a fungus that can ravage a farmer’s fields.

Researchers from the UK, US and Australia identified genetic clues that give insights into whether a crop will succumb to stem rust.

They discovered a gene in the fungus that triggers a wheat plant’s natural defences. A second pathway has been discovered which switches on a wheat plant’s immune response.

The research, reported in the journal Science, gives new tools for protecting crops from the deadly pathogen.

Stem rust has caused crop epidemics and famine for millennia.

In the 1950s, wheat rust spread through North America and destroyed up to 40% of the crop.

Since then, scientists have developed rust-resistant varieties to boost wheat’s immunity to the fungus.

But the pathogen is evolving all the time.

…(read more)

How the Republican Party turned against climate science

Published on Aug 22, 2016

A brief history of American inaction on climate change

How the Republican Party went from Lincoln to Trump


Published on Jul 20, 2016

It wasn’t always this way for the Republican Party.

Forget the idiotic Net Neutrality arguing: time to build our own networks

RT America

Published on Dec 21, 2017

Vice just announced they are building their own community internet network, with their Motherboard brand. Though not a fan of hipsters, The Resident discusses why she thinks this is a good thing. Follow The Resident at http://www.twitter.com/TheResident

Regreening the planet – (VPRO documentary – 2012)

vpro documentary
Published on May 14, 2017

Regreening the planet looks at the profit that comes from the recovery of ecosystems in Spain, Egypt and India. Restoring ecosystems does not only generate ecological profit but also economic. In Regreening the desert, the makers of VPRO Backlight showed that the greening of deserts is very well possible. They followed the American-Chinese cameraman and ecologist John D. Liu. He filmed how an inhospitable dry mountain area as large as the Netherlands was transformed into a lush green oasis. The greening caused not only ecological recovery but also economic growth of the region.

Since then, John D. Liu has traveled the world to inspire people in other countries to follow this example. Dutch ecologist Willem Ferwerda was inspired by Liu and decided to work together with him. This cooperation has grown into a new organization, Commonland, a foundation with a clear mission: to restore the ecosystems on a large scale worldwide. The point of departure is that restoring landscapes not only yields ecological profits but also money, work and hope for the people living there. We can see that this works in Egypt: in 1977

Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish SEKEM, experimented to green the desert at Cairo. In 2014, SEKEM has grown to be the leading supplier of ecological products in Egypt and far beyond. Dr. Abouleish has built not only a flourishing business in the desert but a complete community with schools and their own medical and cultural facilities. A better proof that greening and social innovation go hand in hand is almost impossible to find. That all areas can grow alive, even if they are completely eroded by erosion, also appears from the special story of Indian Jadav “Molai” Payeng. When he was 17, he worked for a replanting project in Assam province. After the project was completed and the other laborers had disappeared, he decided to continue propagating wood by hand.

Now, Molai forest is 300 acres and populated by elephants, Bengal tigers, deer, rhino and numerous birds. Payeng is also called The Forest Man in India because he has been able to create a jungle singlehandedly. That is something that Spain might well use. Large areas in Spain are dry and abandoned due to misused agricultural subsidies, unintentional water and land use and large-scale erosion. The population is turning its back on the countryside and moves to the cities, but there is also unemployment there. In Ayoo de Vidriales, a graying village in the middle of Spain, agricultural engineer Pedro Alonso Fernandez has begun to recover land. He wants to show that the Spanish silted and eroded soils are in fact Green Gold. Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2012. © Backlight 2012


Landrush in Africa – (vpro backlight documentary – 2008)

vpro documentary
Published on Feb 12, 2017

Original title: Our man in Sudan. While huge parts of Africa are still famine-stricken, large areas of fertile agricultural land on the continent are put up for sale. Since the collapse of the financial markets smart investors have gone looking for new opportunities and, given the increasing world population and high prices of raw materials, agricultural land seems a safe bet. With lots of cheap land Africa is a Walhalla. We never see how these investors actually operate. But Backlight was able to watch one of them, Phil Heilberg, former Wall Street banker, in action.

Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2008. © VPRO Backlight January 2008