Is a global food shortage looming?

dfhg

Can food production keep pace with demand?

Cuts in research threaten ability to keep pace with growing demand

Staff Report

FRISCO — A top food expert says the world could be facing a serious food shortage in 40 years, when production won’t be able to keep up with growing demand.

“For the first time in human history, food production will be limited on a global scale by the availability of land, water and energy,” said Dr. Fred Davies, senior science advisor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. “Food issues could become as politically destabilizing by 2050 as energy issues are today.” Continue reading

Study: Garden diversity key to preserving bumblebees

UK researchers track flower preferences

Bumblebee butt and thistle.

A bumblebee searches for pollen on a thistle bloom. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Diversity in urban gardens can play a key role in sustaining pressured bumblebee populations, ecologists in the UK said this week, explaining the results of a study that measured bumblebee preferences for both native and non-native plants.

The most common species of bumblebee is not picky about a plant’s origin when searching for nectar and pollen. But other species, including long-tongued bees, favor plants native to the UK and Europe. Continue reading

Climate: Rise in heatwaves threatens food crops

Wheat field in Upper Austria

A wheat field in Upper Austria ripens under a summer sun.

North American corn belt could be hit especially hard

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While some plants will grow better with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the overall warming caused by greenhouse gases poses a serious threat to food crops — especially the expected increase in heatwaves.

Scientists at the University of East Anglia took a close look at wheat, maize and soybeans to try and estimate impacts to global food production. The findings were published this week in Environmental Research Letters.

Previous studies had already shown that climate change will reduce maze yields by mid-century, but the new study added potential heatwaves to the mix, showing that there is significant chance for catastrophic crop failures as heatwaves become more frequent and intense. Continue reading

California drought linked with global warming

‘What we are seeing now is fundamentally different from previous mega-droughts, which were driven largely by precipitation’

hg

Global warming is likely to exacerbate droughts worldwide.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While drought conditions have eased across parts of the U.S. in recent months, conditions have worsened in the far West, and particularly in California, where water shortages will have consequences spreading far beyond the state’s borders.

And the western drought has global warming fingerprints all over, according to four researchers who discussed the links between climate change and drought at a teleconference organized by Climate Nexus, a communications group focused on highlighting the wide-ranging impacts of climate change. Continue reading

Beekeepers challenge EPA pesticide approval

d

Can a lawsuit save the bees? bberwyn photo.

Lawsuit targets use of systemic pesticides

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say the EPA put honeybees at risk by approving a bee-killing pesticide without adequately considering the potential impacts of the toxic chemical.

Sulfoxaflor is the first of a newly assigned sub-class of pesticides in the neonicotinoid class of pesticides and is considered by the EPA to be “highly toxic.” Many scientists across the globe have linked this class of pesticides as a potential factor to widespread and massive bee colony losses.

Represented by Earthjustice, the struggling beekeeping industry is challenging the EPA in court, claiming that the EPA violated federal laws by  dismissing the input from their risk assessors that the field tests supplied by the manufacturer Dow Chemical were insufficient to adequately determine pollinator safety. Continue reading

Could a user fee curb excessive antibiotics use?

Industrial feedlots are huge sources of greenhouse gases. PHOTO COURTESY DAVIS CREEK FARMS.

Large-scale use of antibiotics for food production needs to be curbed, scientists say.

‘The real value of antibiotics is saving people from dying. Everything else is trivial’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Massive use of antibiotics for food production is only marginally beneficial and poses a huge long-term risk to human health, researchers in Canada say. In a new paper, the scientists proposed a user fee that could help curb excessive application antibiotics in the agriculture and aquaculture industries.

The new paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine explains that in the United States 80 per cent of the antibiotics in the country are consumed in agriculture and aquaculture for the purpose of increasing food production.

The flood of antibiotics sprayed on fruit trees and fed to livestock, poultry and salmon has led bacteria to evolve. Mounting evidence cited in the journal shows how resistant pathogens are emerging — resulting in an increase in bacteria that is immune to available treatments. Continue reading

Global warming: Of cattle and climate …

Efforts to reduce greenhouse gases should focus on livestock

Taking a lunch break during a search for orchids in the Austrian countryside.

Too many cows? Scientists say cutting methane emissions from ruminant livestock could help in race to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. bberwyn photo.

Staff report

FRISCO — Focusing on livestock to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could help humanity make some headway in the race to prevent catastrophic climate change, according to an international research team that took a close look at methane and nitrous oxide.

Cutting releases of methane and nitrous oxide, two gases that pound-for-pound trap more heat than CO2, should be considered alongside the challenge of reducing fossil fuel use, the scientists concluded in their analysis, published last week as an opinion commentary in Nature Climate Change, a professional journal.

“Because the Earth’s climate may be near a tipping point to major climate change, multiple approaches are needed for mitigation,” said Oregon State University forestry professor William Ripple. “We clearly need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels to cut CO2 emissions. But that addresses only part of the problem. We also need to reduce non-CO2 greenhouse gases to lessen the likelihood of us crossing this climatic threshold,” Ripple said. Continue reading

European bumblebees invading South America

‘One of the most spectacular examples of the invasion of an entire continent by a foreign species introduced by man …’

A bumblebee

A bumblebee

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The introduction of European bumblebees to South America as pollinators may backfire in the most spectacular way. Ecologists tracking the rapid spread of the non-native species say the buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), is rapidly displacing native bees with as-yet unknown ecosystem consequences.

The European bumblebees were brought into central Chile in 1998 to help pollinate fruits and vegetables, as agricultural producers looked to replace dwindling honeybee colonies. Some of the buff-tailed bumblebees soon escaped from the greenhouses, established colonies in the wild and started spreading south all the way to Patagonia. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Feds agree to study pesticide impacts to rare frogs in California

f

USGS sampling found that Pacific chorus frogs in many remote Sierra Nevada locations are contaminated by pesticides and fungicides used in agricultural production in California’s Central Valley. Photo courtesy USGS.

Court settlement may ultimately help protect endangered amphibians

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In a classic case of government do-nothingism, federal agencies have known for years that pesticides are killing rare California frogs — but have failed to act to protect the amphibians from the poisons.

But that should change soon, as a federal court this week approved a deal that requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare detailed environmental studies on the effects of seven common pesticides: Glyphosate, malathion, simazine, pendimethalin, permethrin, methomyl and myclobutanil.

The studies, called biological opinions in government jargon, will evaluate and disclose how the use of those chemicals affects California’s red-legged frogs when they’re used in and near the frog’s aquatic and upland habitats. Continue reading

Study: Americans willing to pay for monarch butterfly conservation

Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.

Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.

Changes in gardening habits could help protect a cherished species

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Americans be willing to pony up for Monarch butterfly conservation, according to a new study that links conservation and economic values.

The research, conducted by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey. Colorado State University and the University of Minnesota, suggests that willingness could add up to big bucks — $6.5 billion that could be used to support conservation efforts.

Monarch butterfly populations have been declining across Mexico, California and other areas of the United States since 1999.

A 2012 survey at the wintering grounds of monarchs in Mexico showed the lowest colony size ever recorded. Much of the decline  has been blamed on the loss of milkweed, the native plants on which monarch caterpillars feed. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,973 other followers