Climate change

Will we be hungry in a warming world? USDA wants to know

Niina Heikkinen, E&E reporter

The agricultural livestock field will have to undergo systematic changes to cope with food security and sustainability problems in a climate-changed world, according to a new report commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences.

By the year 2050, demand for animal protein is predicted to go up significantly as the global population reaches between 9 billion and 10 billion people. Meat and egg consumption is expected to increase 73 percent from 2011 levels, and dairy consumption will likely go up by 58 percent. In order to meet the rising demand, animal scientists will need to develop more sustainable production practices, while also dealing with climate change’s effects on yields and on animal and human well-being, explained the report’s authors.

In addition to climate change, the nearly 300-page reportaddressed a broad range of other factors affecting future sustainability and food security, including landscape degradation, pest control and the spread of disease.

“The simple broad message of this report is that too much research has been siloed or fragmented into specialty sections,” said B.T. Turner II, Gilbert F. White professor of environment and society at Arizona State University and member of the committee. “We need a systems-based approach.”

Add more science, subtract methane

For animal scientists, that would mean greater integration of environmental, economic and social sciences into their studies, starting in the very early stages of their research, said Mo Salman, a member of the committee and professor of veterinary epidemiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University.

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A message of hope

Last year, the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) officially declared that 2015 would be celebrated as the International Year of the Soil, citing the threat to one of the key ingredients to the planet’s food and farming systems posed by “expanding cities, deforestation, unsustainable land use, pollution, overgrazing and climate change.”

Though many recognise the FAO declaration as a largely symbolic gesture, many advocates of organic food and sustainable agricultural are planning to seize the designation as a way to push forth their message that the health of the planet’s soil should not be relegated as a metaphorical issue, but rather one that should be at the very heart of serious conversations and policy changes humanity must begin in order to transform its economic systems, its democracies, the way it generates power, and the way it feeds itself.

Summarizing the issues at stake and the fight ahead, one of the world’s most prominent advocates for democracy and organic agriculture, Dr Vandana Shiva, an Indian activist and founder of the seed-saving organization Navdanya, has posted an impassioned New Year’s message to those battling on behalf of food sovereignty, economic egalitarianism, agroecology, climate action, and social justice.

In the video posted to the website of Seed Freedom, Shiva applauded all those who have stood up for the rights of people and Mother Earth against the greed and disregard perpetrated by corporate power and the neoliberal economic model which is ravaging economies, human rights, and the planet’s ability to sustain life.

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Climate Change Threatens Quechua and Their Crops in Peru’s Andes

By Fabiola Ortiz, Inter Press Service

Quechua Indian women bargain and sell vegetables. (Photo: Global Water Partnership)Quechua Indian women bargain and sell vegetables. (Photo: Global Water Partnership)

Pisac, Peru – In this town in Peru’s highlands over 3,000 metres above sea level, in the mountains surrounding the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Quechua Indians who have lived here since time immemorial are worried about threats to their potato crops from alterations in rainfall patterns and temperatures.

“The families’ food security is definitely at risk,” agricultural technician Lino Loayza told IPS. “The rainy season started in September, and the fields should be green, but it has only rained two or three days, and we’re really worried about the effects of the heat.”

If the drought stretches on, as expected, “we won’t have a good harvest next year,” said Loayza, who is head of the Parque de la Papa or Potato Park, a biocultural conservation unit created to safeguard native crops in the rural municipality of Pisac in the southeastern department or region of Cuzco.

In the Parque de la Papa, which is at an altitude of up to 4,500 metres and covers 9,200 hectares, 6,000 indigenous villagers from five communities – Amaru, Chawaytire, Pampallaqta, Paru Paru and Sacaca – are preserving potatoes and biodiversity, along with their spiritual rites and traditional farming techniques.

The Parque de la Papa, a mosaic of fields that hold the greatest diversity of potatoes in the world, 1,460 varieties, was created in 2002 with the support of the Asociación Andes.

This protected area in the Sacred Valley of the Incas is surrounded by lofty peaks known as ‘Apus’ or divine guardians of life, which until recently were snow-capped year-round.

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26 September 2014


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An app for water maintenance. Click here

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Is FAO opening window for ecological agriculture? Click here