Biopiracy: The misuse of patenting systems at the disadvantage of local communities

clouds-dawn-daylight-540006.jpg
Due to the increasing need for novel, untapped resources (biological and chemical), many research developments are looking at previously untouched and rural regions as a source for these new resources (© Pexels)

In the search for new bioresources in increasingly remote and rural regions, researchers will use the traditional knowledge of local communities to support their search for new, untapped plants, animals or chemical compounds. The ethical (and sometimes political) issues surrounding this come when this knowledge is used without permission, and exploits the local community’s assistance and culture for commercial gain. This is called biopiracy.

Continue reading

Crops downwind from wildfires at risk from atmospheric pollution

ash-blaze-burn-948270
Wildfires release pollutants such as aerosols, carbon dioxide. Both of which are known greenhouse gasses. (© Pexels)

With increasing numbers of wildfire disasters globally, research has shown that pollutants released from wildfires can affect crops, forests and other vegetation hundreds of kilometers downwind from the source.

As global temperatures increase, moisture and precipitation levels change, and dry areas becoming drier, the likelihood of droughts and prolonged wildfire seasons are increasing.These exacerbated conditions are also likely to cause more intense and prolonged burning.

Continue reading

The future for coastal farmers in Bangladesh

aerial-asia-beach-584302
Roughly 40 million people in Bangladesh depend on coastal areas for agriculture and is the most important livelihood option (© Pexels)

A recent study published in Nature Climate Change has suggested that the future global effects of climate change will impact the livelihoods of over 200,000 coastal farmers in Bangladesh as sea levels rise. Flooding of saltwater is already negatively impacting coastal residents in the country as soil conditions alter, causing farmers to either change from historic rice farming to aquaculture or to relocate further inland to avoid such salinity changes.

Continue reading

Improving food crop yields using blue-green algae

biology-botanical-canna-lily-1153268.jpg
Photosynthesis is one of the leading limitations to global agricultural food production (© Pexels)

Using specialised carbon-fixing material from blue-green algae, scientists have successfully engineered crop plants to boost photosynthetic productivity and crop yields. This exciting development promises to increase the yield of important food crops such as cassava, wheat and cowpea.

Continue reading

Philippine farmers worst hit by Typhoon Mangkhut

merlin_143753736_5efd9a7e-7cdb-4dba-b5c8-f7c373521280-superJumbo
Ducks in a cornfield in Cagayan Province that was damaged by strong winds (Image credit: Aaron Favila/Associated Press)

Typhoon Mangkhut (local name: Ompong) recently swept across the northern island of Luzon, Philippines, severely affecting the country’s bread basket. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, approximately 171,932 farmers have suffered as a consequence of the storm.

Continue reading

The Bugs Are Coming, and They’ll Want More of Our Food

Reblogged from The New York Times

31CLI-INSECTS-jumbo
A European corn borer caterpillar. Many insects get hungrier and reproduce more quickly in warmer temperatures. Credit Scott Camazine/Science Source

Climate change is expected to make insect pests hungrier, which could encourage farmers to use more pesticides.

Ever since humans learned to wrest food from soil, creatures like the corn earworm, the grain weevil and the bean fly have dined on our agricultural bounty. Worldwide, insect pests consume up to 20 percent of the plants that humans grow for food, and that amount will increase as global warming makes bugs hungrier, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

Continue reading full article on The New York Times→

Investing in smallholder farmers for a food-secure future

Mr. Kampinga

Smallholder farmers provide the vast majority of the world’s food supply, and ‘small-scale farming’ is the largest occupation group of economically active people, 43% of which are women.

Approximately 2 billion of the world’s poorest live in households that depend on agriculture in some form for their livelihoods, whether this is for market or subsistence. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that growth in agriculture in developing countries is on average almost 3 times more effective in reducing poverty (relative to non-agriculture GDP growth).

Continue reading