“The USDA says the value of certified organic commodities jumped 23% from 2015 to 2016 to $7.554 billion. The number of certified organic farms and total organic acreage also climbed as consumers continued to respond positively to organic branding.”
The lack of any limit on the total amount of pesticides used and the virtual absence of monitoring of their effects in the environment means it can take years for the impacts to become apparent, say Prof Ian Boyd and his colleague Alice Milner in a new article.
The damning assessment of pesticide regulations that are meant to protect the global environment follows a growing number of highly critical reports including research showing farmers could slash their pesticide use without losses and a UN report that denounced the “myth” that pesticides are necessary to feed the world.”
“Intensification of crop and livestock production, in smallholder crop-livestock systems as well as in other intensive or extensive systems, is essential to mitigate human suffering…”
Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems “(ICLS) increase environmental resilience through increased biological diversity, effective/ efficient nutrient cycling/recycling, improved soil health, provide ecosystem services, enhance forest preservation and contribute to adaptation and mitigation of climate change.”
“Researchers at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, found the addition of less than 2 per cent dried seaweed to a cow’s diet could reduce their methane emissions by as much as 99 per cent.”“…The Irish Farmers’ Association gave a broad welcome to the study saying the research provides the opportunity to continue to build on Ireland’s “sustainable grass-based model of food production”.
The association’s environment chairman, Thomas Cooney, called on Irish researchers “to immediately investigate the potential for this research in an Irish agriculture context, and in the context of the opportunity that may exist for indigenous seaweed production”.
Not all Beef is bad. “Healthy Grass & Cropland”, “Healthy Grassland” or “Healthy Silvopasture” systems can be very eco-friendly, especially if the cattle diet is supplemented by 2% with a species of red algae called Asparagopsis taxiformis. Good management practices are key.
–Union of Concerned Scientists (7.14.16)
“Animal integration into croplands has been proposed as a strategy to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration in soils. This project aims at quantifying the influence of ICLS variations and fertility management on carbon pools and net system productivity in California annual and perennial cropland. Additionally, increases in total organic soil carbon content and biodiversity through livestock integration have been shown to shape soil ecosystem and the services they provide.”
Current ‘gold standard’ research shows that elevated CO2 levels (such as we are likely to experience in our lifetimes) drive down the concentrations of important minerals like calcium, potassium, zinc and iron by 8 percent, on average, and drive down the protein contents of wheat and rice by 6 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
“Nitrate-contaminated groundwater is now pervasive in agricultural areas in California such as the San Joaquin and Salinas valleys. It’s a serious problem in rural communities that rely solely on wells for drinking water…most nitrate pollution comes from crop runoff – 55 percent from synthetic fertilizer [industrial agriculture] and 33 percent from animal manure [industrial dairy] – according to a University of California, Davis study commissioned by the State Water Resources Control Board.”
Holistic, regenerative agriculture helps mitigate this problem.
“In this study, the authors do a really good job of quantifying how humans have altered the Earth’s surface soil carbon stocks through extensive agriculture, with direct implications for atmospheric CO2 concentrations and the climate.”
“The model suggested that agricultural changes are responsible for the loss of a total of 133 petagrams, or 133 billion metric tons, of carbon from the top six-foot-deep layer of soil all over the world. The most intense losses per unit of land have been caused by the planting of crops — however, more land worldwide is devoted to grazing livestock than cropping.”