Could we really run out of food?

Biofuel production, poor harvests and emerging nations’ growing appetites are emptying the world’s pantry, sending prices soaring. It’s a good time to invest in agricultural stocks.
As if a bear market, U.S. credit crunch, energy crisis and city financing emergency were not enough for one year, experts say the world is now facing down the barrel of the worst catastrophe of all: famine.

The very idea that the modern world could run out of food seems ludicrous, but that is the flip side, or cause, of the tremendous recent increase in the cost of raw wheat, corn, rice, oats and soybeans. Food prices are not escalating because speculators have run them up for sport and profit, but because accelerating demand in developing nations, biofuel production and poor harvests in some areas have made basic foodstuffs truly scarce.

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(In this article: …global grain reserves are “precarious,” at just 1.7 months of consumption, down from 3.5 months of reserves as recently as 2000.”…)

Read moreCould we really run out of food?

Chinook Salmon Vanish Without a Trace

SACRAMENTO – Where did they go?

The Chinook salmon that swim upstream to spawn in the fall, the most robust run in the Sacramento River, have disappeared. The almost complete collapse of the richest and most dependable source of Chinook salmon south of Alaska left gloomy fisheries experts struggling for reliable explanations – and coming up dry.

Whatever the cause, there was widespread agreement among those attending a five-day meeting of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council here last week that the regional $150 million fishery, which usually opens for the four-month season on May 1, is almost certain to remain closed this year from northern Oregon to the Mexican border. A final decision on salmon fishing in the area is expected next month.

As a result, Chinook, or king salmon, the most prized species of Pacific wild salmon, will be hard to come by until the Alaskan season opens in July. Even then, wild Chinook are likely to be very expensive in markets and restaurants nationwide.

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2008: The year of global food crisis

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IT IS the new face of hunger. A perfect storm of food scarcity, global warming, rocketing oil prices and the world population explosion is plunging humanity into the biggest crisis of the 21st century by pushing up food prices and spreading hunger and poverty from rural areas into cities.

Millions more of the world’s most vulnerable people are facing starvation as food shortages loom and crop prices spiral ever upwards.

And for the first time in history, say experts, the impact is spreading from the developing to the developed world.

More than 73 million people in 78 countries that depend on food handouts from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are facing reduced rations this year. The increasing scarcity of food is the biggest crisis looming for the world”, according to WFP officials.

At the same time, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned that rising prices have triggered a food crisis in 36 countries, all of which will need extra help. The threat of malnutrition is the world’s forgotten problem”, says the World Bank as it demands urgent action.

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The bank points out that global food prices have risen by 75% since 2000, while wheat prices have increased by 200%. The cost of other staples such as rice and soya bean have also hit record highs, while corn is at its most expensive in 12 years.

Read more2008: The year of global food crisis

Investors Behind Doomsday Seed Vault May Provide Clues to Its Purpose (Part 2)

(NaturalNews) It’s got all the exciting elements of a science fiction novel. A seed bank as strong as a fortress built into the side of a mountain in the remote arctic wilderness built for the purpose of preserving food sources in the event of a disaster. Among the specifications for the bank are dual blast-proof doors with motion sensors, two airlocks, and one-meter thick walls of steel reinforced concrete.

“If you control the oil you control the country; if you control the food you control the population.” — Henry Kissinger

Built on the island of Spitsbergen in the Barents Sea near the Arctic Ocean in the country of Norway, a group of wealthy corporations has invested millions of dollars in their project named the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The mission statement is: “So that crop diversity can be conserved for the future”.

The seed vault will have the capacity to house up to 4.5 million different varieties of seeds from all over the planet. The Doomsday Vault will officially open on February 26, 2008. There will be no full time staff necessary to operate the seed vault. It has been designed to run itself independent of human direction. Svalbard will be managed and overseen by the Rome-based Global Crop Diversity Trust.

The question begs asking – Why the need for this super fortress seed bank when adequate protective measures for the earth’s seeds already exist around the world? Delving into the details of this project is an interesting undertaking.

The group of investors includes The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto Corporation, Syngenta Foundation, and the Government of Norway. Both Monsanto Corporation (US based) and Syngenta Foundation (Swiss based) are leading agricultural companies active in the development of genetically modified (GMO) plant seeds and related agricultural chemicals.

Read moreInvestors Behind Doomsday Seed Vault May Provide Clues to Its Purpose (Part 2)

African seed collection first to arrive in Norway on route to Arctic seed vault

LAGOS, NIGERIA (31 January 2008)-Twenty-one boxes filled with 7,000 unique seed samples from more than 36 African nations were shipped to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a facility being built on a remote island in the Arctic Circle as a repository of last resort for humanity’s agricultural heritage.The vault is being built by the Norwegian government as a service to the global community, and a Rome-based international NGO, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, will fund its operation. The vault will open on 26 February 2008.

The shipment, which was sent by the Ibadan, Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), consists of thousands of duplicates of unique varieties of domesticated and wild cowpea, maize, soybean, and Bambara groundnut. The seeds from the IITA genebank in Ibadan, Nigeria, were packed in 21 boxes weighing a total of 330 kg. The processing by IITA staff took several months, and the boxes were packaged over a three-day period, with 10 staff checking the accession list, reporting errors, and adjusting the inventory, as needed.

The seeds were shipped on to Oslo on route to the village of Longyearbyen on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, where the vault has been constructed in a mountain deep inside the Arctic permafrost.

Read moreAfrican seed collection first to arrive in Norway on route to Arctic seed vault

Drought could close nuclear power plants

Southeast water shortage a factor in huge cooling requirements

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LAKE NORMAN, N.C. – Nuclear reactors across the Southeast could be forced to throttle back or temporarily shut down later this year because drought is drying up the rivers and lakes that supply power plants with the awesome amounts of cooling water they need to operate.

Utility officials say such shutdowns probably wouldn’t result in blackouts. But they could lead to shockingly higher electric bills for millions of Southerners, because the region’s utilities could be forced to buy expensive replacement power from other energy companies.

Already, there has been one brief, drought-related shutdown, at a reactor in Alabama over the summer.

“Water is the nuclear industry’s Achilles’ heel,” said Jim Warren, executive director of N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, an environmental group critical of nuclear power. “You need a lot of water to operate nuclear plants.” He added: “This is becoming a crisis.”

Read moreDrought could close nuclear power plants

Storms destroy one tenth of China’s forests

China has lost about one tenth of its forest resources to recent snow storms regarded as the most severe in half a century, state media reported Sunday.A total of 43 million acres of forest have been damaged across China as the result of three weeks of savage winter weather, the China Daily website said, citing the State Forestry Administration.

More than half the country’s provinces have been affected, and in the worst-hit regions, nearly 90 percent of forests have been destroyed, according to the paper.

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Are chemicals altering the planet?

…Not a single chemical has been tested…

…”In eleven years all that’s happened – all that’s happened, is the committee has come up with a list, a potential list of chemicals that should be tested. In eleven years,” said Prof. Tyrone Hayes….

“If you are a male frog exposed to attrazine at very low ecologically relevant levels you become a hermaphrodite,” said Professor Hayes…

… “The current system of regulating chemicals is really broken,” said Bill Walker from the Environmental Working Group…

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Already we have riots, hoarding, panic: the sign of things to come?

The spectre of food shortages is casting a shadow across the globe, causing riots in Africa, consumer protests in Europe and panic in food-importing countries. In a world of increasing affluence, the hoarding of rice and wheat has begun. The President of the Philippines made an unprecedented call last week to the Vietnamese Prime Minister, requesting that he promise to supply a quantity of rice.

Read moreAlready we have riots, hoarding, panic: the sign of things to come?