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Salt-loving plants may be key to global efforts for sustainable food production

Farmland is vanishing in part because the salinity in the soil is rising as a result of climate change and other human-made phenomena. In an Opinion piece publishing in the Cell Press journal Trends in Plant Sciences, researchers propose a new concept for breeding salt- tolerant plants as a way to contribute to global efforts for sustainable food production.

“We suggest that we should learn from nature and do what halophytes, or naturally salt-loving plants, are doing: taking up salt but depositing it in a safe place — external balloon-like structures called salt bladders,” says co-senior author Prof. Sergey Shabala, of the University of Tasmania, in Australia. “This strategy has never been targeted by breeders and, therefore, could add a new and very promising dimension to breeding salinity-tolerant crops.”

Soil salinity is claiming about 3 hectares, or 7.4 acres, of usable land from conventional crop farming every minute. This costs the agricultural sector many billions of dollars each year and jeopardizes the ability to meet the target of feeding 9.3 billion people by 2050. Unfortunately, decades of plant breeding for salinity tolerance have not resulted in a major breakthrough that might allow us to resolve this issue.

Dr. Shabala and his colleagues note that recent research on salt bladders creates the exciting possibility of modifying genes in traditional crops such as wheat or rice to allow them to develop salt bladders without a major impact on their growth and yield. “We know already about the key genes required to grow trichomes, or outgrowths of a plant. If we learn to activate those that trigger the developmental shift from an ordinary trichome to a salt bladder, one may be able to grow external salt depots on any crop,” says co-senior author Prof. Rainer Hedrich, of the Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology and Biophysics, in Würzburg, Germany.

They are confident that researchers have all of the tools needed to identify the molecular transporters involved in salt loading within salt bladders as well as the developmental switches that are involved.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Walmart SVP: Collaboration key to sustainable food

As Wal-Mart Stores revealed big plans to accelerate its efforts around food sustainability, it didn’t do so alone.

Food manufacturers and growers, government agencies and other stakeholders are key partners in the retailer’s food sustainability programs, Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart’s SVP of sustainability, said in an interview with SN following the company’s Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting Monday in Bentonville, Ark.

“What I’m excited about is a real commitment and energy from multiple leaders in the food system that we need to go faster,” McLaughlin said. “This is not just a Walmart thing. We’re happy to play a role, but it’s the suppliers, the environmental agencies like the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund; bilateral aid agencies like USAID; domestic agencies like the USDA; and even customers, farmers and growers in this together. Everybody is playing a role.”

McLaughlin said Walmart was moving to improve sustainability so as to protect resources of what’s become the retailer’s largest category. The moves also speak to new expectations of food from Walmart customers, according to a blog post by Doug McMillon, Walmart’s CEO.

“YOU — our customer — have told us that in 2014 and beyond, you expect more than just quality food at low prices. You also want to know where your food came from, how it was produced, and what it contains,” McMillon wrote. “You expect more convenient access to affordable, healthier choices. And you expect us to use our strengths to help create a more sustainable food system for the environment and for people.”

Walmart’s sustianability will encompass efforts to use its influence to help suppliers and growers reduce their costs and decrease the environmental impact of agriculture; make healthy eating easier and more accessible; and to improve transparency as to food origins and safety.

Partners in the effort including brands like Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola, and agriculture businesses like Monsanto, applauded the effort:

Walmart in the meantime has begun a campaign highlighting some of its famer-suppliers, including this grape grower:

“We really invite the whole industry to partner in this effort – and that means other retailers, too,” McLaughlin added. “We have had some nice collaboration with Target and some others through the Sustainability Consortium. This can’t just be a Walmart thing —it has to be the whole food system. It’s a call to action for everybody.”

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Evolutionary tools improve prospects for sustainable development

Solving societal challenges in food security, emerging diseases and biodiversity loss will require evolutionary thinking in order to be effective in the long run. Inattention to this will only lead to greater challenges such as short-lived medicines and agricultural treatments, problems that may ultimately hinder sustainable development, argues a new study published online today in Science Express, led by University of California, Davis and the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

For the first time, scientists have reviewed progress in addressing a broad set of challenges in agriculture, medicine and environmental management using evolutionary approaches, approaches that consider species’ evolutionary histories and the likelihood of rapid evolutionary adaptation to human activities.

The study finds an urgent need for better implementation of these approaches, for example in managing the use of antibiotics and pesticides in order to reduce the escalating problem of resistance evolution. Furthermore, current efforts are found insufficient to reduce the accumulating costs from chronic disease and biodiversity loss, two challenges ultimately caused by exposure to food and environments to which people and threatened wildlife are poorly adapted.

The study also assessed the potential for less commonly implemented strategies including gene therapies to treat human disease, the breeding of “climate change proof” crop varieties, such as flood tolerant rice, and translocating exotic strains for ecological restoration and forestry that will be better adapted to near-future conditions.

“Applying evolutionary biology has tremendous potential, because it takes into account how unwanted pests or pathogens may adapt rapidly to our interventions and how highly valued species including humans on the other hand are often very slow to adapt to changing environments through evolution. Not considering such aspects may result in outcomes opposite of those desired, making the pests more resistant to our actions, humans more exposed to diseases and vulnerable species less able to cope with new conditions,” says biologist Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, one of the lead-authors and PhD from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

“To succeed in avoiding such unwanted outcomes however, we need to learn from successes and progress in all fields using evolutionary biology as a tool. Currently there is no such coordination, says Scott P. Carroll, lead-author and biologist at the University of California Davis and Director of the Institute for Contemporary Evolution. He continues:

“A particular worry is that the unaddressed need for management of evolution that spans multiple sectors will lead to the spread of new infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance genes between natural, human health and agricultural systems. It is clear that we need to strengthen evolutionary biology linkages across nature conservation, food production and human health and develop a shared strategy.”

Many evolutionary solutions are already at hand

Whereas we might have to wait for new solutions from human gene therapy, genetic engineering of crops and development of new medicines to replace old ones, many innovative solutions based on applying evolutionary biology already exist.

For example, farmers in the United States and Australia have used planting of pest-friendly refuges to delay evolution of insect resistance to genetically engineered corn and cotton. These genetically modified crops kill certain pests, but without refuges the pests quickly adapt. Providing refuges of conventional plants has been especially effective for suppressing resistance in the pink bollworm, an invasive pest of cotton.

However, Peter Jørgensen also cautions: “In many cases, decision makers must pay more attention to assuring that long-term benefits of applying these solutions do not come at a short-term cost for some individuals, for example from yield loss due to localised effects of pests in a particular year. By encouraging cost sharing, local communities and governments play a crucial role in ensuring that everybody gains from the benefits of using evolutionary biology to realise the long-term goals of sustainable development such as increasing food security, protecting biodiversity and improving human health and well-being.”

The article is published today in Science Express. Peter Jørgensen will also present the research at the upcoming Sustainability Science Congress in Copenhagen from October 22nd to 24th.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Faculty of Science – University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Evolutionary tools improve prospects for sustainable development

Solving societal challenges in food security, emerging diseases and biodiversity loss will require evolutionary thinking in order to be effective in the long run. Inattention to this will only lead to greater challenges such as short-lived medicines and agricultural treatments, problems that may ultimately hinder sustainable development, argues a new study published online today in Science Express, led by University of California, Davis and the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

For the first time, scientists have reviewed progress in addressing a broad set of challenges in agriculture, medicine and environmental management using evolutionary approaches, approaches that consider species’ evolutionary histories and the likelihood of rapid evolutionary adaptation to human activities.

The study finds an urgent need for better implementation of these approaches, for example in managing the use of antibiotics and pesticides in order to reduce the escalating problem of resistance evolution. Furthermore, current efforts are found insufficient to reduce the accumulating costs from chronic disease and biodiversity loss, two challenges ultimately caused by exposure to food and environments to which people and threatened wildlife are poorly adapted.

The study also assessed the potential for less commonly implemented strategies including gene therapies to treat human disease, the breeding of “climate change proof” crop varieties, such as flood tolerant rice, and translocating exotic strains for ecological restoration and forestry that will be better adapted to near-future conditions.

“Applying evolutionary biology has tremendous potential, because it takes into account how unwanted pests or pathogens may adapt rapidly to our interventions and how highly valued species including humans on the other hand are often very slow to adapt to changing environments through evolution. Not considering such aspects may result in outcomes opposite of those desired, making the pests more resistant to our actions, humans more exposed to diseases and vulnerable species less able to cope with new conditions,” says biologist Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, one of the lead-authors and PhD from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

“To succeed in avoiding such unwanted outcomes however, we need to learn from successes and progress in all fields using evolutionary biology as a tool. Currently there is no such coordination, says Scott P. Carroll, lead-author and biologist at the University of California Davis and Director of the Institute for Contemporary Evolution. He continues:

“A particular worry is that the unaddressed need for management of evolution that spans multiple sectors will lead to the spread of new infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance genes between natural, human health and agricultural systems. It is clear that we need to strengthen evolutionary biology linkages across nature conservation, food production and human health and develop a shared strategy.”

Many evolutionary solutions are already at hand

Whereas we might have to wait for new solutions from human gene therapy, genetic engineering of crops and development of new medicines to replace old ones, many innovative solutions based on applying evolutionary biology already exist.

For example, farmers in the United States and Australia have used planting of pest-friendly refuges to delay evolution of insect resistance to genetically engineered corn and cotton. These genetically modified crops kill certain pests, but without refuges the pests quickly adapt. Providing refuges of conventional plants has been especially effective for suppressing resistance in the pink bollworm, an invasive pest of cotton.

However, Peter Jørgensen also cautions: “In many cases, decision makers must pay more attention to assuring that long-term benefits of applying these solutions do not come at a short-term cost for some individuals, for example from yield loss due to localised effects of pests in a particular year. By encouraging cost sharing, local communities and governments play a crucial role in ensuring that everybody gains from the benefits of using evolutionary biology to realise the long-term goals of sustainable development such as increasing food security, protecting biodiversity and improving human health and well-being.”

The article is published today in Science Express. Peter Jørgensen will also present the research at the upcoming Sustainability Science Congress in Copenhagen from October 22nd to 24th.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Faculty of Science – University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

The road to sustainable tuna aquaculture

Domesticating Atlantic Bluefin Tuna may help meet the food industry’s demand for this endangered species. However, making such an endeavour sustainable is a challenging task.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is a much sought after delicacy. Due to huge fishing pressure, tuna stocks have decreased dramatically. There are now signs of recovery, according to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. But the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) still lists the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna as endangered. So far, farming of this species in the Mediterranean area involves capturing medium-sized specimens and fattening these in farms. This still depletes the wild stocks. Now, the EU-funded project TRANSDOTT, due to be completed in September 2014, aims to establish a sustainable and commercially viable aquaculture for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. “This is the only way to reduce the pressure on the natural stocks,” says project coordinator Christopher Bridges, professor of Zoology at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, in Germany.

The project builds on several previous projects. “We have achieved a number of milestones,” Bridges tells CommNet. Amongst others, project scientists developed a hormone-based method to make the fish reproduce in captivity. “We were able to keep the fingerlings, small young tuna, some of which are still alive in Spain,” he says. According to Bridges, projects scientists were the first in Europe to do so. But the fish reared in captivity have not yet reached breeding age. The first ones to succeed in closing the aquaculture cycle of a tuna species were scientists at the Kinki University, in Japan. “Now they sell fingerlings around $ 50 [€36] per piece to grow-out farms in Japan,” Bridges says.

The current project involves scaling up tuna production and making the endeavour economically viable. But project scientists still need to tackle some problems. To make the aquaculture more sustainable, “fish-based feed is replaced step-by-step by vegetable feed,” says Florian Borutta, project scientist and chief scientific officer of tuna aquaculture company TunaTech. The Norwegian company Skretting specially designs pellets for feeding the tuna. However, “we get better growth rates with a combination of pellets and dead fish,” Bridges adds.

Another issue is larger tuna feeding on smaller ones in the early larval stages. Added to this, alien species can be introduced as by-products of egg collection from open sea cages. What is more, because tuna see poorly and swim fast, “they collide with the walls if kept onshore in tanks,” Borutta tells CommNet. Nevertheless, Bridges hopes to have the production of eggs and fingerlings commercially viable within the next few years. “We have got most things in place,” he says.

One expert welcomes these efforts. “The management of the Mediterranean Atlantic Bluefin Tune stock is starting to be achieved. But surely the capture must be limited,” says Wayne Hutchinson, aquaculture expert at the South Australian Research and Development Institute in West Beach, Australia. “Full-cycle aquaculture provides the possibility to relieve pressure on the wild stock and contribute to sustainability,” Hutchinson tells CommNet. He regards the science-based approach and the degree of collaboration as impressive.

In Hutchinson’s view problems such as cannibalism and wall collisions need to be progressed before sustainable aquaculture of propagated tuna can be realised. “The challenges are the same as those that have been experienced with propagating other tuna species,” he says. Hutchinson emphasises the need to develop feeds containing less fishmeal and more ingredients from sustainable sources, such as terrestrial crops. “This is happening but will take time to optimise,” he notes. Also, the fish size expected by the market is large compared to other cultured fish. “This means bigger tanks, bigger cages and greater problems handling and caring for tuna,” Hutchinson adds.

But another expert is critical. “The best course of action for the Bluefin is to reduce the quotas to let the wild populations increase to some approximation of their original size,” says Bruce Collette, chair of the IUCN tuna and billfish specialist group and senior scientist at the systematics laboratory of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service in Washington DC, USA. “I do not believe that Bluefin will be successfully domesticated,” he says.

Collette is worried about the high volume of forage fish needed. “This is particularly true if attempts are made to raise Bluefin to sashimi size, which would bring the highest price. This could take several years of expensive feeding,” Collette says. He is also concerned about environmental impact. There may be “an increase in parasitism as has occurred in the Australian ranching of the Southern Bluefin,” Collette explains. Parasites might jump to migrating wild populations. Moreover, he concludes: “there is the problem of proper disposal of all the tuna’s waste products without adversely impacting the local environment.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by youris.com. The original article was written by Constanze Böttcher. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Walmart aims to increase innovation in sustainable agriculture

Walmart joined with chief executive officers from more than a dozen global companies to sign new commitments that accelerate innovation in sustainable agriculture and recycling. The pledges kicked off Walmart’s inaugural Sustainable Product Expo, a three-day collaboration to expand the availability of products that sustain people and the environment. Together, the participating suppliers represent more than $ 100 billion in sales at Walmart.

Eight of the largest food companies announced pledges to help ensure that tomorrow’s food supply is affordable and sustainable for the 9 billion people projected to inhabit the planet by 2050. The commitments aim to drive more collaboration and efficiency across the current food system. In total, this work is expected to bring 8 million acres of farmland into sustainable agriculture programs and eliminate 6 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, companies joined with Walmart and the Walmart Foundation in announcing plans to launch a groundbreaking recycling initiative called the Closed Loop Fund, with the goal of making recycling available to all Americans. The fund aims to invest $ 100 million in recycling infrastructure projects and spur private and public funding for transforming the recycling system in the United States.

“Walmart and our suppliers recognize that collaboration is the key to bringing sustainable solutions to all of our customers,” Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Stores Inc., said in a press release. “A great deal of innovative work is happening every day, but there are still too many gaps and missed opportunities. Today’s commitments are about creating real systems change from one end of the supply chain to the other — meaning how products are grown and made, how they’re transported and sold, and how we touch the lives of people along the way.”

“No one should have to choose between products that are sustainable and products they can afford,” Manuel Gomez, vice president of sustainability for Walmart, said in the press release. “We want to make sustainability easy by taking the guesswork out of values-based shopping. Accessibility and transparency really put the customer in the driver’s seat.”

For more information on the Sustainable Product Expo, and to view the webcast replay of event highlights, visit http://news.walmart.com/events/sustainability-product-expo-2014.

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Safeway commits to sustainable palm oil

Safeway will give preference to suppliers of 100% verified sustainable palm oil and set a goal of using only sustainable palm oil in all of its Safeway-brand products, said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a statement, Tuesday.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund, which held shares valued at over $ 63 million as of the end of the state fiscal year March 31, 2013, spurred the action via a sustainable palm oil shareholder proposal.


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“Safeway is sending a strong message to its suppliers that safeguarding the environment is a business priority,” said DiNapoli, in a statement. “Safeway’s new policy protects the company and its shareholders from reputational harm associated with environmental destruction.”

Harvesting palm oil from unsustainable sources has been linked to deforestation, the cause of an estimated 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, destruction of rainforests and the promotion of climate change.

Under its new policy, Safeway will ask suppliers for verification that all of their palm oil and derivatives products are “free of deforestation, free of expansion of carbon-beat lands … and free of human rights violations including forced and child labor, human trafficking and poor working conditions.”

The Rainforest Action Network, which has engaged with Safeway for several years with the hopes of increasing the company’s use of sustainable palm oil, praised the retailer’s decision.

“Safeway has made a bold move by publicly committing to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its supply chain, which will reduce the company’s environmental and social impact,” said Ginger Cassady, program director at Rainforest Action Network, in a statement. “By directly engaging its suppliers to tackle the urgent issue of rainforest destruction, Safeway will ensure that it’s values are upheld throughout its palm oil supply chain and will preent reputational risk for the company.”

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Wakefern steps up sustainable seafood

Wakefern Food Corp. announced that it is launching a sustainable seafood program in partnership with the Marine Stewardship Council and the Global Aquaculture Alliance.

Wakefern’s New Jersey seafood processing facility earned the MSC Chain of Custody certification that traces products the entire supply chain.


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“Wakefern is dedicated to keeping seafood plentiful and safe for generations to come,” said Wakefern spokeswoman Karen Meleta in a press release.

“We have committed to working with suppliers who ensure that our wild-caught and farm-raised seafood is sourced from certified, sustainable fisheries and farms.”

Because orange roughy, shark, blue-fin tuna and grouper can’t be sourced sustainably at this time, Wakefern will no longer offer those species.

Wakefern’s efforts extend to both wild caught and farm-raised seafood, and the company is working with the Global Aquaculture Alliance through its Best Aquaculture Practices Program. 

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Coastal ocean aquaculture can be environmentally sustainable

Dec. 19, 2013 — Specific types of fish farming can be accomplished with minimal or no harm to the coastal ocean environment as long as proper planning and safeguards are in place, according to a new report from researchers at NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

The study, led by scientists at National Ocean Service’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), evaluated the environmental effects of finfish aquaculture, including interactions with water quality, benthic habitats, and marine life across various farming practices and habitat types.

“We did this study because of concerns that putting marine finfish farms in the coastal ocean could have adverse effects on the environment,” said Dr. James Morris, NCCOS ecologist. “We found that, in cases where farms are appropriately sited and responsibly managed, impacts to the environment are minimal to non-existent.”

“This report provides coastal and farm managers with a global perspective on a range of potential environmental effects and their relative intensity,” said Dr. Michael Rubino, director of NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture. “It is a tool that can be used when evaluating proposed or operational farming sites and gives them a factual basis to make decisions.”

In the report, scientists said that continued development of regional best-management practices and standardized protocols for environmental monitoring are key needs for aquaculture managers. As aquaculture development increases in the coastal ocean, the ability to forecast immediate or long-term environmental concerns will provide confidence to coastal managers and the public.

“This report contributes to the growing body of evidence supporting marine aquaculture as a sustainable source of safe, healthy and local seafood that supports jobs in coastal communities,” said Sam Rauch, acting assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries.

Report: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/pdfs/2013_PriceandMorris_MarineCageCultureandTheEnvironment%285%29.pdf

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Loblaw’s Provigo Wins Award for Sustainable Seafood

MONTREAL — Loblaw’s Provigo banner earned one of Quebec’s 2013 Phénix de l’environnement awards for its Oceans for Tomorrow sustainable seafood program.

The retailer’s Oceans for Tomorrow campaign works to educate shoppers about the Marine Stewardship Council label and its commitment to sustainable fishing practices.


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“It is truly an honour to have our efforts to generate awareness for sustainable methods of fishing recognized by a program as prestigious as the Phénix de l’environnement,” Marie-Hélène Michaud, Loblaw’s director of Environmental Affairs, said in a statement. “We will continue our effort to educate Canadians about sustainable seafood and are committed to offer choices that will help protect fish inventories and marine life.”

The Phénix de l’environnement prizes are awarded by a public-private partnership that includes Quebec’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Fauna and Parks and Ministry of Finance and Economy, as well as Éco Entreprises Québec and the Fondation québécoise en environnement.

More news: Loblaw Expands Guiding Stars to Quebec

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Loblaw’s Provigo Wins Award for Sustainable Seafood

MONTREAL — Loblaw’s Provigo banner earned one of Quebec’s 2013 Phénix de l’environnement awards for its Oceans for Tomorrow sustainable seafood program.

The retailer’s Oceans for Tomorrow campaign works to educate shoppers about the Marine Stewardship Council label and its commitment to sustainable fishing practices.


CONNECT WITH SN ON TWITTER

Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.


“It is truly an honour to have our efforts to generate awareness for sustainable methods of fishing recognized by a program as prestigious as the Phénix de l’environnement,” Marie-Hélène Michaud, Loblaw’s director of Environmental Affairs, said in a statement. “We will continue our effort to educate Canadians about sustainable seafood and are committed to offer choices that will help protect fish inventories and marine life.”

The Phénix de l’environnement prizes are awarded by a public-private partnership that includes Quebec’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Fauna and Parks and Ministry of Finance and Economy, as well as Éco Entreprises Québec and the Fondation québécoise en environnement.

More news: Loblaw Expands Guiding Stars to Quebec

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Sustainable livestock production is possible

Sep. 25, 2013 — Consumers are increasingly demanding higher standards for how their meat is sourced, with animal welfare and the impact on the environment factoring in many purchases. Unfortunately, many widely-used livestock production methods are currently unsustainable. However, new research out today from the University of Cambridge has identified what may be the future of sustainable livestock production: silvopastoral systems which include shrubs and trees with edible leaves or fruits as well as herbage.

Professor Donald Broom, from the University of Cambridge, who led the research said: “Consumers are now demanding more sustainable and ethically sourced food, including production without negative impacts on animal welfare, the environment and the livelihood of poor producers. Silvopastoral systems address all of these concerns with the added benefit of increased production in the long term.”

Current cattle production mostly occurs on cleared pastures with only herbaceous plants, such as grasses, grown as food for the cows. The effects on the local environment include the removal of trees and shrubs as well as the increased use of herbicides, all of which result in a dramatic decrease in biodiversity. Additionally, there is also contamination of soil and waterways by agricultural chemicals as well as carbon costs because of vehicles and artificial fertiliser necessary to maintain the pasture.

The researchers advocate that using a diverse group of edible plants such as that in a silvopastural landscape promotes healthy soil with better water retention (and less runoff), encourages predators of harmful animals, minimizes greenhouse gas emissions, improves job satisfaction for farm workers, reduces injury and stress in animals, improves welfare and encourages biodiversity using native shrubs and trees.

Additionally, shrubs and trees with edible leaves and shoots, along with pasture plants, produce more food for animals per unit area of land than pasture plants alone. Trees and shrubs have the added benefit of providing shade from hot sun and shelter from rain. It also reduces stress by enabling the animals to hide from perceived danger.

“The planting as forage plants of both shrubs and trees whose leaves and small branches can be consumed by farmed animals can transform the prospects of obtaining sustainable animal production,” said Professor Broom. “Such planting of ‘fodder trees’ has already been successful in several countries, including the plant Chamaecytisus palmensis which is now widely used for cattle feed in Australia.”

Another success has been in Colombia where a mixed planting of the shrub Leucaena with a common pasture grass resulted in a 27% increase in dry matter for food and 64% increase of protein production.

When ruminants, such as cows, goats and sheep, are consuming the plants from a silvopastoral system, researchers have seen an increase in growth and milk production. Milk production in the tropical silvopastoral system mentioned above was 4.13 kg per cow when compared with 3.5 kg per day on pasture-only systems. As the numbers of animals per hectare was much greater, production of good quality milk per hectare was four to five times greater on the silvopastoral system.

One of the additional benefits of using the silvopastoral system is that it increases biodiversity. Biodiversity is declining across the globe, and the main culprit is farming — 33% of the total land surface of the world is used for livestock production. If farmers were to switch to sustainable livestock production methods, such as the silvopastoral system, the result would be much greater biodiversity with no increase in land use.

Professor Broom added: “It is clear that silvopastoral systems increase biodiversity, improve animal welfare and provide good working conditions while enabling a profitable farming business. The next step is to get farmers to adopt this proven, sustainable model.”

The paper ‘Sustainable, efficient livestock production with high biodiversity and good welfare for animals’ will be published in the 25 September edition of Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Certification of aquaculture: one of the strategies to sustainable seafood production

Sep. 5, 2013 — Certification of products from aquatic farming — aquaculture — is contributing to sustainable production, but it also has serious limits. Therefore it should be seen as one approach among many for steering aquaculture toward sustainability.

This is argued by an international team of researchers in a paper published in Science on September 6th.

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing global food production systems, and now contributes around 13% of world animal-protein supply. It provides almost half of the world’s supply of seafood. The rapid expansion of the sector has come with a wide range of concerns about the environmental and social impact of aquaculture. In response, NGO-led certification schemes, such as the Dutch based Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), have developed standards against which the environmental and social performance of aquaculture can be measured.

Based on the work of an international network of researchers, the paper argues that aquaculture certification has limits as a means of governing sustainable production. Aquaculture certification is limited in the volume of global production it can certify, given market demand for certified seafood is currently limited to the US and EU while the majority of seafood consumption occurs in other markets. The impact of certification is also limited in reaching wider sustainability goals, it is focused on the farm-level instead of the cumulative impacts of multiple farms in one location on the surrounding environment or farming communities. Furthermore it is limited in its ability to include stakeholders, particularly smallholder producers, in the Global South where the vast majority of global production comes from.

The implication of these limits is that certification needs to be seen as but one of a wider array of strategies for regulating sustainable production. Assumptions that countries in the Global South are unwilling or incapable to regulate aquaculture no longer holds true everywhere. Many of these countries have experience with international food safety regulation and represent some of the most important domestic markets for aquaculture products globally. Certification should therefore be seen as part of a broader array of governance approaches for promoting sustainable aquaculture production. Global certification also needs to better complement national level sustainability programmes. Further research is needed to determine what kind of hybrid forms of environmental governance can be developed that move beyond an overemphasis on certification, and instead draw on the strength of states, the private sector and institutions such as the ASC.

Certification volume

Only a 4.6% of the global aquaculture production is currently certified. The 13 main species currently covered by the ASC currently account for 41.6% of the worldwide aquaculture production, leaving 58.4% of aquaculture production with no opportunity for certification. The recent introduction of two additional certification labels for multispecies standards has expanded the potentially certifiable volume to 73.5%. In practice, however, the new standards will only lead to an increase of 0.1% in certified volume because much of what is potentially certifiable is produced in countries like China with little demand for sustainability certification.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Germany: A central role in the development of sustainable trade specialists

Weiling
Germany: A central role in the development of sustainable trade specialists

Weiling was founded in 1975 and has since grown to become one of Germany’s largest organic wholesale traders. The company, still family owned 38 years later, supplies exclusively organic product lines to organic only stores.

2012 saw Weiling achieve growth of 8.6%, turning over 145.2 million Euro with 11,000 strong organic product lines.

Fresh fruit and vegetables make an important contribution to this success, representing one third of total business.

Sascha Hinkes, head of Weilings department for purchasing fruits an vegetables explains that this high proportion of total sales activity is due to a strong focus on the quality of the fruit and vegetables traded.

” supplies many subscription services for fruit and vegetables. Due to long term cooperation and commitment to the best possible quality, Weiling is very thorough in the selection of its fruit and vegetable suppliers.”

This, Sascha explains, means regular mutual visits and additional auditing at producers by the Gessellschaft für Ressourcenshutz, one of the strictest organic inspectors in the EU.

“Weiling works with producers and production groups in Spain, Italy, Southern France and Tunisia, many of whom work to Naturland and Demeter standard; the rest will do so in the coming years. The end product is a unique brand developed exclusively with Weiling. Weiling then creates an extremely diverse marketing package, which includes posters, profiles, shelf labels, You-tube videos, training courses, tastings and QR codes to link smartphones with producer mini-sites.”

Sascha says, however, that the Weiling package does not end there and the company also offers professional store development.

“Included in this is staff training at the Weiling Academy, which has already been visited by 10,000 people. Specialist personnel for organic shops are just as important as the high quality organic fruit and vegetables in store and Weiling has a central role in the development of sustainable trade specialists.”

For more information:
Hanjörg Bahmann
Weiling
Tel: +49 2541 747 100
[email protected]

Publication date: 8/15/2013
Author: Ben Littler
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Germany: A central role in the development of sustainable trade specialists

Weiling
Germany: A central role in the development of sustainable trade specialists

Weiling was founded in 1975 and has since grown to become one of Germany’s largest organic wholesale traders. The company, still family owned 38 years later, supplies exclusively organic product lines to organic only stores.

2012 saw Weiling achieve growth of 8.6%, turning over 145.2 million Euro with 11,000 strong organic product lines.

Fresh fruit and vegetables make an important contribution to this success, representing one third of total business.

Sascha Hinkes, head of Weilings department for purchasing fruits an vegetables explains that this high proportion of total sales activity is due to a strong focus on the quality of the fruit and vegetables traded.

” supplies many subscription services for fruit and vegetables. Due to long term cooperation and commitment to the best possible quality, Weiling is very thorough in the selection of its fruit and vegetable suppliers.”

This, Sascha explains, means regular mutual visits and additional auditing at producers by the Gessellschaft für Ressourcenshutz, one of the strictest organic inspectors in the EU.

“Weiling works with producers and production groups in Spain, Italy, Southern France and Tunisia, many of whom work to Naturland and Demeter standard; the rest will do so in the coming years. The end product is a unique brand developed exclusively with Weiling. Weiling then creates an extremely diverse marketing package, which includes posters, profiles, shelf labels, You-tube videos, training courses, tastings and QR codes to link smartphones with producer mini-sites.”

Sascha says, however, that the Weiling package does not end there and the company also offers professional store development.

“Included in this is staff training at the Weiling Academy, which has already been visited by 10,000 people. Specialist personnel for organic shops are just as important as the high quality organic fruit and vegetables in store and Weiling has a central role in the development of sustainable trade specialists.”

For more information:
Hanjörg Bahmann
Weiling
Tel: +49 2541 747 100
[email protected]

Publication date: 8/15/2013
Author: Ben Littler
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com