Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
A new study calculates that about one-fifth of all water goes toward the production of crops and commodities for export, part of a global phenomenon known as “virtual water” that researchers say could place pressure on finite water supplies in some nations.
Using worldwide trade indicators, demographic data, (more…)
Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
European renewable energy targets are driving widespread conversion of African lands for agrofuels, threatening to exacerbate hunger in poor regions and increase carbon emissions across the continent, according to a new report. National governments and private companies are increasingly acquiring agricultural land in Africa to grow crops to (more…)
Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
(Reuters) – The messages are tense, angry, cajoling.
Written between 2008 and January 2010 and sent between lobbyists, scientists and high-ranking European civil servants, they hint at the intense emotions in the debate over one of Europe’s most contentious environmental issues: the use of biofuels, long touted as an alternative to carbon-emitting petroleum.
But it’s not how the emails are written that’s important. It’s what’s in them — and (more…)
Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
U.S. farmers who have switched to genetically engineered crops have made increased profits and reduced short-term damage to the environment, but reliance on weedkillers associated with the new crops could undermine the environmental benefits, according to a new study.
More than 80 percent of the soy, corn, and cotton grown in the U.S. is now genetically engineered to resist pests or the popular herbicide, Roundup, according to the report by the National Academy of Sciences.
But nine species of weeds have evolved resistance to glyphosate, a main component of Roundup. (more…)
Monday, March 8th, 2010
A recent report in preparation for the 12th International Energy Forum’s ministerial, scheduled in Cancun, Mexico later this month, studies and assesses the potential and limitations of biofuels.
Criticized by the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) as “self serving,” the report suggests that mounting evidence from research and analysis shows that the demise of the fossil fuel era is nowhere in sight and cautions against the widespread adoption of biofuels.
Authored by Claude Mandil, the former executive director of the International Energy Agency, and Adnan Shihab-Eldin, the former acting secretary general of OPEC, the report examines the extent to which biofuels could contribute meaningfully to meeting a substantial portion of future demand in the transportation sector.
Friday, February 5th, 2010
Researchers in the Middle East are developing a technology they say will convert saltwater-tolerant crops into jet fuel, creating a biofuel that doesn’t consume huge amounts of fresh water or take land away from food crops.
The Masdar Institute in the United Arab Emirates is creating a demonstration farm that will use a system called integrated seawater agriculture, in which seawater would be transported via canal to a desert-based farm that combines fish and shrimp farming with cultivation of mangrove trees and salicornia, whose seeds can be converted into fuel.
Thursday, November 26th, 2009
Climate change not only presents difficult challenges for the energy industry, but also raises serious concerns about food security as loss of topsoil and desertification reduce arable land around the world. Within this climate, genetically-modified crops (GMOs) will play a crucial role in supporting increased development and population growth.
GMOs are organisms, such as plants and animals, whose genetic characteristics are being modified artificially in order to give them a new property. Last month, Monsanto, the world’s leading seed producer, announced that it expects African countries to increase plantings of GMOs in order to boost food security and economic development in the face of climate change. Africa is the only continent where per-capita food output is falling, which also raises concerns about introducing fuel-dedicated crops. GMOs could increase yields for both food and fuel, but international and regional rules governing GMOs represent a significant barrier to increased international trade.