Environment

Over the past few weeks there have a been a series of reports raising concerns about the felling of old-growth trees in the ancient Bialowiezça forest in eastern Poland. A recent piece in the Guardian begins

My last post dealt with the permaculture edible forest garden, and it received some commentary on a couple of Facebook groups and permaculture forums.

A lot of the responses were, predictably, from permaculture advocates who took umbrage at my having deigned to critique their philosophy at all, but there was one very valid criticism concerning yields: while I had compared weights of different crops per acre, a more useful approach would be to compare calorific yield.

Doing this for the crops I listed gives a result looking something like this:

With GMOs going off patent, anti-science activists and the PR groups running interference for them (such as US Right To Know and Sourcewatch) are running out of time to use one of the arguments they love most to disguise the fact that they hate science; that corporations control the food supply.

Because GMOs are patented, they have  an expiration and that is happening right now. If it's not about the science, but instead about having farmers controlled by an evil seed corporation, then it's all good, right? Their war on science has ended?

A peptide and its receptors work to regulate auxin response and control leaf tooth growth in plants.

The plant hormone auxin has been known to take part in the development of leaf teeth, but the exact mechanism of their formation has been a mystery up till now. In this study, the research group has found that a peptide called EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR-LIKE 2 (EPFL2) and its receptor protein, ERECTA family receptor kinases, control the amount of auxin during leaf tooth growth. In plant leaves where the EPFL2 peptide is inactive, the leaf becomes round without teeth.

In recent years, litigation attorneys and environmental epidemiologists have attempted to link flame retardants, which were put in furniture and electronics to prevent immolation by national mandate, to health problems. Studies have shown that the substances, or their constituents, can leach out of products, and end up in indoor dust,  over time. In a world where we can now detect parts per quadrillion, they can also be found in us.

A new paper in Environmental Science&Technology discusses how flame retardants in our homes could also be ending up in surface water, via our laundry.

The number of honey bee colonies fell by nearly 12% last winter - according to a preliminary look at a survey of beekeepers, that is. The UK and Spain were worst affected this year. The prior year, other areas of Europe were hardest hit.  While environmental groups make money scaring people about that, what it really means is something else.

The preliminary claims are being made by the honey bee research association COLOSS, based in the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern.

Farmers are doing a lot more than just feeding the world, they are also offsetting tropical forests declines, capturing nearly 0.75 giga-tons of carbon dioxide every year ---but global warming estimates never account for that. 

There are more than 120,000 varieties of rice stored at the germplasm bank at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, but a new paper focused on varieties that met important criteria - currently grown by farmers, have a high yield potential, be disease and pest-resistant, grow to the right size and have strong enough roots to withstand monsoon-force winds - to find out which ones could were optimal in regards to nitrogen.

Nitrogen is one of three main nutrients required for crops to grow, it also costs the most to produce. 

Organic farming should be in a Golden Age. Organic marketing groups, and the junkyard dogs they pay to attack scientists (1) finally got mandatory labeling on conventional food, the public is already spending $13,000,000,000 on organic food in the U.S. alone, and margins have shown to be much higher.

I have long wondered why everyone doesn't switch to organic farming.

It's that pesky free market. 
Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin recently signed Federal Law 358-FZ, which bans genetic engineering of plants and animals for the indefinite future.