Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα food. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα food. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Δευτέρα, Φεβρουαρίου 23, 2015

As Malawi reels from devastating floods, UN food agency delivers vital supplies

 UN, 23 February 2015 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has announced the delivery of a first round of emergency supplies to more than 288,000 people in flood-affected Malawi, providing much needed relief amid continuing rains.

The UN food agency explained in a press release that it had distributed more than 2,700 metric tons of food to 12 districts late last week and delivered more than 200 metric tons of relief items by air to thousands of people cut-off by flood waters.

Incessant rains have severely affected the African country as flood waters have destroyed roads and rendered some areas entirely inaccessible by land.

Malawi is regularly hit by floods and droughts, requiring emergency responses of varying size each year. This year, flooding has caused displacement of over 170,000 people, while an estimated 116,000 households have lost their crops and livestock. In Nsanje district alone, 79 people are confirmed dead with another 153 people still missing.

Moreover, this year’s rains have come ahead of their usual schedule, repeatedly bursting the banks along the Shire and Ruo rivers, and warnings of flash floods remain in place, with more rain forecast for the country's North. With 86 per cent of the population living in rural areas and engaged in farming and livestock rearing, long-term watershed management infrastructures are urgently needed so that even intense flooding is less damaging than this year.

In addition, the press release noted, WFP is currently participating in a joint rapid food security assessment “in order to understand the latest needs on the ground and the required duration of the emergency response” while also providing recommendations on the duration of the ongoing lean season food insecurity response which has already identified nearly 700,000 people in need of food assistance.

Despite the United Nations’ intensive efforts to reach those affected by the devastating flood waters, the WFP continues to face a funding gap of $3.3 million to cover the outstanding food requirements and logistics services to support the entire humanitarian community.

  [un.org]
23/2/15
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Τετάρτη, Φεβρουαρίου 11, 2015

Floods claim 158 lives in Mozambique (official)

A total of 158 people have been killed in storms and floods that have hit central and northern Mozambique this year, the country's state news agency AIM reported Wednesday...
Some 177,000 people were affected, 654 schools, seven health units and around 100 places of worship were destroyed, AIM cited Mouzinho Saide, the official government spokesperson and Deputy Health Minister, as saying.

"The level of the waters is now falling in the Zambezi basin," said Saide.

Saide also pointed out that there is also a decline in the level in the Licungo basin in Zambezia province, while in the Rovuma basin on the border with Tanzania, the level is rising slightly.

The river basins south of the Zambezi are currently all below flood alert level, and are giving no grounds for concern.

Saide said the cholera outbreak in parts of Nampula, Niassa and Tete provinces have claimed 19 lives, adding that 1,671 cases have been confirmed.

Saide added that the cholera situation is being monitored on a daily basis. Groups have been set up, with staff from various government sectors, to improve sanitation, purify drinking water, and disinfect the houses of cholera victims.

  Source:Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
11/2/15
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Σάββατο, Ιανουαρίου 17, 2015

Thousands of Malawian flood victims unable to receive aid (Doctors without Borders)

Up to 20,000 people in the southern tip of Malawi most affected by the current floods remain cut off from the rest of the country without food, Doctors without Borders (MSF) said on Friday.

These people are also cut off from health care and ways to prevent possible outbreaks, the humanitarian medical organization said in a statement issued in Johannesburg.

Humanitarian relief is slowly arriving in the districts of Chikwawa where the waters have started to recede. However some of the most affected areas downstream are only accessible by helicopter, making humanitarian intervention difficult, said MSF.

MSF, which has been responding to the floods since January 9, is refocusing its intervention around the town of Nsanje, where it has a long standing regular project, and is assessing ways to access the more remote East Bank.

"The floods are behaving like a slow tsunami with the river swelling progressively downstream towards the south and Mozambique, " said Amaury Grégoire, MSF's head of mission in Malawi, currently in Nsanje evaluating the impact of the floods.


"Most of Nsanje and East Bank are submerged under two to three meters of water, which has transformed these vast plains into a giant lake engulfing houses and bridges. Even though these areas are prone to floods, old people I talked to could not remember events of this magnitude."

As the rains have eased in the past few days, the water levels are expected to progressively recede. However, long term solutions need to be found for people whose possessions and crops, which are the primary mean of subsistence for 85 percent of the population, have been completely destroyed in the flood.

"Several camps have been set up for people who lost their homes, but the majority of them have found refuge in the homes of friends or relatives that are still standing. These houses are made of mud and very crowded, and with most wells and boreholes contaminated by the floods, people are living in precarious, unsanitary conditions," said Grégoire.

MSF has been setting up tents, distributing non-food items, mosquito nets and water treatment kits, as well as building latrines to prevent the emergence of water-borne diseases. The organization has had a presence in Malawi since 1986 where it currently runs three projects helping people living with HIV, one of them located in Nsanje.

In the recent years, MSF conducted humanitarian interventions after floods affected the country in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

  Source:Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
17/1/15
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Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 05, 2015

Fukushima rice tests ‘radiation free’ first time since disaster

For the first time since the 2011 disaster, all of the rice harvested in Fukushima Prefecture this year has passed radiation tests and now can be deemed safe for consumption, according to local officials.

Virtually all of the rice harvested in Fukushima in 2014 – or some 360,000 tonnes – has been checked for radiation and met the national standards of less than 100 Becquerel’s per kilogram, Reuters reports.
 
"The fact that the amount of rice that does not pass our checks has steadily reduced in the last three years indicates that we're taking the right steps," said Fukushima official Tsuneaki Oonam, who heads the department that oversees Fukushima rice farming. 
Authorities began testing all rice grown in Fukushima prefecture in 2012, although the amounts harvested over the past years were insignificant. More 190 testing devices are used throughout the prefecture to ensure rice’s safety standards. 
For the last 2 years, some 10 million bags of rice were checked annually. In 2012, 71 bags were found to exceed the safety standards, while in 2013, 28 bags were over the standard, the Asahi Shimbun reports. Rice farmers, according to the newspaper, succeeded in changing the fertilizer used so that radioactive cesium is not absorbed by the rice plant. 
Rice that passes the Food Sanitation Law standards, is labeled as such. Those bags with radiation readings are destroyed. Despite the promise of getting a clean over-all reading, Fukushima prefecture plans to continue the radiation testing program. 
Japan exported its first rice following the disaster last August – a 300-kilogram batch was delivered to Singapore. Fruit exports to Malaysia also resumed last year, according to officials, while in 2012 Fukushima peaches and apples were exported to Thailand. 
 http://rt.com/news/219799-fukushima-rice-radiation-free/
5/1/15-

Κυριακή, Δεκεμβρίου 14, 2014

Dozens of trekkers cut off by snowfall near Mount Everest

KATHMANDU - Dozens of foreign hikers and Nepali guides returning from a trekking trip to the base camp of Mount Everest have been cut off by heavy snowfall, a police official said on Sunday.

They have been forced to stay in four hotel resorts in the Gokyo area near the world's tallest peak, which has been battered by heavy snowfall following freak rains in the last 24 hours, police officer Chandra Dev Rai said from Salleri, the nearest town.

Gokyo lies in Solukhumbu region where Mount Everest is located and is a popular destination for hikers. Tens of thousands of trekkers and climbers visit the Solukhumbu region in northeast Nepal every year.

"There is chest-deep snow in the area. There is no report of any casualty so far. If the snowfall continues for long the tourists need emergency rescue," Rai told Reuters by phone.

Most mountainous areas in Nepal have experienced snowfall due to rains which are not common during this time of the year.

Weather officials in Kathmandu said the bad weather could continue for a couple of days, worsening the plight of the trapped tourists who could face a food shortage.

D.B. Koirala, chief of the Himalayan Rescue Association Nepal, said he had not received any SOS call from the hikers.

 [jpost.com by Reuters]
14/12/14

Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 05, 2014

One third of world soils degraded (FAO)

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that a third of all soils are degraded, due to erosion, compaction, soil sealing, soil organic matter and nutrient depletion, acidification, pollution and other processes caused by unsustainable land management practices.

Jose Graziano da Silva, the director-general of FAO, made the remarks on Thursday, eve of the first World Soil Day to be celebrated on Dec. 5. Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person will in 2050 be only one-fourth of the level in 1960, he warned.

It can take up to 1,000 years to form one centimeter of soil, and with 33 percent of all global soil resources degraded and human pressures increasing, critical limits are being reached that make stewardship an urgent matter, Graziano da Silva said.

Calling soils a "nearly forgotten resource," he urged more investment in sustainable soil management, saying that would be cheaper than restoration and "is needed for the achievement of food security and nutrition, climate change adaptation and mitigation and overall sustainable development."

According to FAO, tiny organisms such as bacteria and fungi underground act as the primary agents driving nutrient cycling and help plants by improving nutrient intake, in turn supporting above-ground biodiversity as well.

Better management can assure that those usually unnoticed organisms boost soil's ability to absorb carbon and mitigate desertification, so that even more carbon can be sequestered -- helping offset agriculture's own emissions of greenhouse gases, FAO said.

Xinhua - english.cntv.cn
5/12/14

Σάββατο, Νοεμβρίου 22, 2014

Americans urged to stop wasting food. (60% of food waste originates from businesses and institutions)

WASHINGTON: In the run-up to Thanksgiving, a holiday to celebrate bountiful harvests, Americans are being urged to stop wasting food so much.
Some 15.4 million kilograms of food is thrown away in the United States every year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Friday (Nov 21).
That represents 21 per cent of all food produced, harvested and purchased - food that is worth an estimated US$1.3 billion, at a time when one in six Americans face hunger.
The EPA launched a social media campaign this week to draw attention to the link between food waste and greenhouse gases produced when unwanted food ends up in landfills. Such waste is a significant source of methane, which the EPA on its website said has "21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide."
"There are actions that individuals and businesses can take to protect the environment," EPA assistant administrator Mathy Stanislaus told reporters. The typical American family of four, he said, could save US$1,600 a year by reducing their food waste.
On Friday, the federal government agency teamed up with prominent Washington area chef and restauranteur Cathal Armstrong, who demonstrated how ingredients that a homemaker might throw away can be put to good use.

TRASH CAN IS LAST RESORT
"The trash can is the last, last, last resort," said the Irish-born chef as he whipped up a lobster bisque in a kitchen adjoining an ongoing exhibition about food around the world at the National Geographic museum.
  • While 40 perc ent of food waste comes from households, 60 per cent originates from businesses and institutions, such as restaurants, food retailers and hospitals.
Armstrong, who oversees four successful restaurants and published a cook book earlier this year on Irish food, said an eatery that wastes food is almost sure to go under. He lamented the failure of culinary schools to teach aspiring chefs the economics of using every ingredient to the maximum extent possible.
"For the most part, chefs have to learn (how not to waste food) themselves," he said, as he stripped a lobster and put the typically undesired bits into a simmering pot. "It's shocking how many people come to me knowing how to make stock, but they don't know why we make stock," he said, adding by way of advice: "Never be without stock."
The National Geographic Society is currently looking at food from all fronts, from its "Food: Our Global Kitchen" exhibition and "Eat: The Story of Food" TV series to the December issue of its iconic yellow-bordered magazine. 

Πέμπτη, Οκτωβρίου 23, 2014

Lake shrinks by third. (The sharp fall of the lake's water level will affect shipping and fishing as well as nearby residents' water supply)

China's largest freshwater lake, Poyang, has shrunk by one third over the last three days due to a reduced water supply from the Yangtze River and little rainfall.

At 8 am Wednesday, the lake's surface area was 1,490 square kilometers, a reduction of 679 square kilometers compared with 2,169 square kilometers on Monday, said the Jiangxi Provincial Hydrological Bureau on Wednesday. 

The water level at the Xingzi hydrological station was 11.99 meters at 4 pm Wednesday, 2.13 meters lower than the average level recorded in recent years. The water level is falling by 30 centimeters every day.


The two major causes for the lake shrinking were the reduced water supply from the upper Yangtze River due to the construction of dams and sparse rainfall over the past month in Jiangxi, said the bureau.

The precipitation was less than 5 millimeters since September 20 in Jiangxi Province.

The lake's flood season began on April 30 and lasted until October 18.

This year's flood period was 33 days longer than last year's.

The sharp fall of the lake's water level will affect shipping and fishing as well as nearby residents' water supply.  

Sources : Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
22- 23/10/14
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Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 22, 2014

In fight against hunger, UN launches initiative targeting threat of desertification

 UN, 22 October 2014 – The growing menace of desertification poses a distinct threat to the world’s agriculture and eco-systems, the United Nations agriculture agency warned today, as it announced a new initiative aimed at curbing the spread of land degradation and building resilience to climate change.

The programme, named Action Against Desertification and launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the European Union and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP), will devote some €41million to bolstering sustainable land management across the world’s most vulnerable areas in an effort to fight hunger and poverty.


“Desertification and land degradation are very serious challenges. They lead to hunger and poverty, themselves at the root of many conflicts,” FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said in a press release marking the programme’s launch.

“But recent successes show that these problems are not insurmountable. We can boost food security, improve livelihoods and help people adapt to climate change.”

The FAO reports that more than 70 per cent of people living in drylands and other fragile ecosystems across Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific derive their livelihoods from natural resources. At the same time, an uptick in population growth and climate change has placed increasing pressure on these ecosystems, intensifying degradation and desertification and putting millions of lives at risk.

In an effort to thwart the costly effects of desertification in Africa, the Action Against Desertification will build on an already existing “flagship programme” – the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative – which supports local communities, Government and civil society in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal with the sustainable management and restoration of their dryland forests and rangelands.

Two-thirds of the African continent is classified as desert or drylands and climate change has led to prolonged periods of drought; over-intensive farming and over-grazing have caused land degradation; and deforestation has turned once fertile land into desert in many areas.

On that note, the FAO-backed programme it will support agro-forestry while also incentivizing the creation of farmer field schools where farmers can learn about the causes of desertification and the best ways to combat and prevent it.

Meanwhile, in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, the new initiative will target the problems of soil loss and degraded natural habitats by helping local communities adopt improved sustainable land and forest management practices. 

un.org
22/10/14
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Τρίτη, Οκτωβρίου 07, 2014

Benefits of investing in protection of biodiversity outweigh financial costs, says UN-backed report

UN, 7 October 2014 – Implementing measures that promote the sustainable use of biodiversity is a worthwhile investment that will bring multiple economic and environmental benefits to countries, according to a United Nations-backed report released today.
The report, released at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-12) in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, found that there is a gap across all countries and regions between investments needed to meet the 20 global biodiversity goals known as the Aichi targets, and the resources currently allocated to this endeavour.

“Even though political commitment is there, we don’t have a good financial investment plan behind it,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Chair of the High-Level Panel on Global Assessment of Resources for Implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, which authored the report.
“The report will help parties understand how we can develop these financial investment plans.”

The report also highlights benefits in areas such as health and well-being and food security that would benefit from higher investments in biodiversity initiatives. 

Mr. Rodriguez, who is also the Vice President for conservation policy at Conservation International, stressed that countries should not simply think of higher expenditures, but they need to look for innovative ways in which development investments also take into account biodiversity.

“Political coherence is urgently needed at the country level,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “If we see how governments behave it’s quite contradictory. On the one hand, we see agencies promoting development with a high environmental cost, and on the other hand we see environmental agencies trying to repair the damage that development agencies have created. We need governments who are able to break down this kind of silo effect.”
Recommendations in the report include diversifying sources of finance for biodiversity; investing in protecting marine and land ecosystems with the view that this will tackle not just biodiversity issues but also wider development issues such as climate change; and strengthening dialogue between governments, the private sector and civil society on biodiversity initiatives.

“We hope that this report will allow parties to move forward actions at the national level as well as the Convention level that are consistent with the political commitment of the Aichi targets,” Mr. Rodriquez added.
un.org
7/10/14

Πέμπτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 04, 2014

US obesity epidemic worsens as rates reach historic highs

Rates of adult obesity increased in six US states and fell in none last year, and in more states than ever - 20 - at least 30 percent of adults are obese, according to an analysis released this week.
The conclusions were reported by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and were based on federal government data. They suggest the problem may be worsening despite widespread publicity about the nation's obesity epidemic, from First Lady Michelle Obama and many others, plus countless programs to address it.
From 2011 to 2012, by comparison, the rate of obesity increased in only one state.

The 2013 adult obesity rate exceeds 20 percent in every state, while 42 have rates above 25 percent. For the first time two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, rose above 35 percent. The year before, 13 states were above 30 percent and 41 had rates of at least 25 percent.
Adult obesity rates increased last year in Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming.
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, where BMI is calculated by dividing weight (in kilograms) by height (in meters) squared. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9.
Nationally, rates of obesity remained at about one-third of the adult population, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, while just over two-thirds are overweight or worse.
Rates of childhood obesity have leveled off, with about one in three 2- to 19-year-olds overweight or obese in 2012, comparable to rates over the last decade.
Continuing a years-long trend, nine of the 10 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South. The West and Northeast had the healthiest BMIs, with Colorado boasting the lowest adult obesity rate, 21.3 percent.
Obesity also tracked demographics, with higher rates correlating with poverty, which is associated with lower availability of healthy foods and fewer safe neighborhoods where people can walk and children can play for exercise. For instance, more than 75 percent of African Americans are overweight or obese, compared with 67.2 percent of whites.
That pattern affects children, too. In 2012, just over 8 percent of African American children ages 2 to 19 were severely obese, with a BMI above 40, compared with 3.9 percent of white children. About 38 percent of African American children live below the poverty line, while 12 percent of white children do.
One-third of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year are obese, compared with one-quarter who earn at least $50,000.
"Obesity rates are unacceptably high, and the disparities in rates are profoundly troubling," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of TFAH.
 http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/168891/us-obesity-epidemic-worsens-as-rates-reach-historic-highs
4/9/14
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Τρίτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 02, 2014

GMO cultivation in the EU (Questions and answers)

The EU has one of the toughest genetically modified food regulations in the world and the cultivation of GM crops is only allowed following a thorough risk assessment. Yet, as member states are calling for more possibilities to restrict GMO cultivation on their territories, the European Commission has proposed some amendments to the current EU rules. The Parliament and the Council are currently looking at these proposals. Read on to learn more.

Is it allowed to grow genetically modified crops in the EU?


Yes, but only once they have been authorised at EU level, following a strict risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). After authorisation, individual EU countries can only ban the GM product on their territory by using the so-called safeguard clause. They have to justify this decision, showing that the GMO may cause harm to people or the environment.

Are any GMOs already cultivated in the EU and did any member state ban it?

Currently, only one GM crop - insect-resistant maize MON 810 from Monsanto - is grown in the EU. However, some countries - Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg and Poland - adopted safeguard clauses to prohibit its cultivation on their territories.

Why does the EU want to change the current system for authorising GM products?

Some member states asked for more freedom and flexibility to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs on their territory. In response, the Commission proposed amendments to the current rules and they are currently being discussed by the Parliament and the Council.

When will the new rules take effect?

In 2011 MEPs voted in favour of the proposals albeit with several amendments. The Council reached a political agreement on 12 June 2014, which will allow the Parliament and the Council to continue talks in order  to reach agreement on a common text. The proposal is foreseen for final adoption in 2015.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20140902STO57801/
2/9/14
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Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 16, 2014

Can Insects Feed a Hungry Planet?

Earth’s population is ballooning every day, which increasingly presents a host of challenges, from housing to resource depletion to food.

The issue of feeding billions of people on a warming planet—along with related concerns such as food waste, water usage and greenhouse gas emissions—continues to be explored.

It has been widely established that factory farming contributes to climate change and even that eating less beef will benefit the environment. But what about eating … bugs. Bugs?


Two billion people around the globe eat insects. Major areas of consumption include Latin America, Southeast Asia and Central Africa. As new ways are examined to feed a rapidly expanding global population, and with a minimal environmental impact, will entomophagy—the consumption of insects as food—be taken seriously in other parts of the world?

Folks at Ensia—Anna Egelhoff, John Sisser and Todd Reubold—put together this infographic to address that very question:..............................http://ecowatch.com

15/8/14
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Πέμπτη, Αυγούστου 07, 2014

World food prices hit six-month low, UN agency reports

UN, 7 August 2014 – Global food prices fell for a fourth consecutive month in July, a sharp decline for grains, oilseeds and dairy products outweighing strong meat and sugar prices, the United Nations agriculture agency reported.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Price Index, which measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of 55 food commodities, averaged 203.9 points in July, down 4.4 points or 2.1 per cent from June.



“The lingering decline of food prices since March reflects much better expectations over supplies in the current and forthcoming seasons,” said FAO senior economist Concepción Calpe.

The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 185.4 points in July, down 10.7 points or 5.5 per cent from June, and as much as 36.9 points or 16.6 per cent below the level one year ago.

Lower grain prices “reflected excellent production prospects as well as expected abundant exportable supplies in the 2014/15 marketing season,” according to the FAO.

In contrast, rice prices edged marginally higher, on renewed import demand, especially given the drought and subsidy lapse in Thai production.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 181.1 points in July, down 7.7 points or 4.1 per cent from June. The decline continued to be primarily driven by falling soy and palm oil prices, primarily in response to abundant supplies from the United States and South America.

Prices of dairy also fell, albeit temporarily. FAO attributed reduced import demand, including a decline in purchases of butter, by Islamic countries during the holy month of Ramadan.

The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 226.1 points in July, down 10.3 points or 4.4 per cent over June, and down 17.5 points or 7.2 per cent from the same period last year.

Meanwhile, meat prices rose for the fifth consecutive month in July, and those for sugar remained firm.

“Livestock product markets have their own dynamics: in the case of meat, beef in particular, many exporting countries are in a herd rebuilding phase, which is limiting availability for exports and sustaining prices,” said Mr. Calpe.

A continued strong demand for meat in Asia, and particularly China, helped to edge up the FAO Meat Price Index which averaged 204.8 points in July, 3.7 points or 1.8 per cent higher than its revised value in June and 25.4 points or 14.1 per cent above the same period last year.

International sugar prices, which have been relatively volatile over the last three months as the world’s largest producer, Brazil, grabbles with a drought, and the second largest producer, India, is expected to experience below average monsoon rains.

These factors contributed to a marginal change of 1.1 points or 0.4 percent in the FAO Sugar Price Index, averaging 259.1 points in July. That figure is 20.2 points or 8.4 per cent higher than in July 2013.

[un.org]
7/8/14
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Δευτέρα, Ιουλίου 14, 2014

Marine experts urge Australians to eat more sea urchins to save environment (is said to contain euphoria-causing chemicals similar to that found in cannabis)

Marine experts are urging Australians to eat more sea urchins and help the environment at the same time, local media reported on Monday.

Australian sea urchin fishermen are doing great business with the Chinese market, but researchers hope Australians can develop a taste for the seafood in order to create more demand, the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) reported.

If there was more demand, more sea urchins would be removed from sensitive reef areas where they are devouring kelp and in turn depleting lobster and abalone stocks.


In Australia, the sea urchin is yet to find favor with locals, but researcher Philip Hayward said they are a tasty treat.

"When they're fresh it almost deliquesces in your mouth, you feel it kind of fizzing and dissolving," he said.

"A Japanese colleague, one of his turn of phrases was 'eating a raw sea urchin was like sharing an intimate kiss with the ocean'."

  • The sea creature is a staple in Pacific islanders' diets, high in omega three, low in calories, an aphrodisiac and is said to contain euphoria-causing chemicals similar to that found in cannabis.
He said given the havoc they cause to reefs, commercial harvesting might prove a far more effective control strategy than the millions of dollars being poured into smashing, baiting and relocation programs.

"The funding that comes for them is for short-term initiatives, but as soon as leave them then they'll start re-growing there," he said.

"You really need an approach which sees people regularly going to actually remove these."

 Sources: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
14/7/14
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Παρασκευή, Ιουνίου 27, 2014

Ban Ki-Moon advirtió sobre consumo de los recursos y su impacto ambiental

Esta semana, se ha reunido en Nairobi (capital de Kenia) la primera Asamblea de las Naciones Unidas para el Medioambiente (UNEA), para constituir el máximo organismo medioambiental creado por la ONU en su historia.

En la clausura del encuentro, el secretario general de la ONU, Ban Ki-moon, lanzó un llamamiento en cuanto a la insostenibilidad en el consumo actual de los recursos, señalando que "el aire que respiramos, el agua que bebemos y la tierra en la que crecen nuestros alimentos son parte de un ecosistema sujeto cada vez a una mayor presión por el crecimiento poblacional”.

La huella de este deterioro es "claramente perceptible" en desforestación de los bosques, en la escasez de la pesca, en la merma de los recursos hídricos y "en un cielo, un agua y una tierra cada vez más contaminados", señaló.

Ante una previsión de empeoramiento -con unas estimaciones de 10 mil millones de habitantes en 2050-, instó a todos los líderes a "actuar de manera firme" para promover un desarrollo sostenible integrando la protección medioambiental entre las estrategias más destacadas de su política.

Reconoció que no será una tarea complicada, ya que convergen numerosos intereses económicos procedentes, fundamentalmente, de la industria energética, de la agricultura y del comercio, si bien, los argumentos para intentarlo "son evidentes".

El secretario general de la ONU aseguró que el mundo se encuentra en una fase crucial para el desarrollo que se concretará tras la caducidad de los Objetivos del Milenio, a mitad de 2015.

http://www.telesurtv.net/articulos/2014/06/27/ban-ki-moon-advirtio-sobre-consumo-de-los-recursos-y-el-impacto-ambiental-7836.html
27/6/14
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  • Saying ‘change is in the air,’ Ban urges new UN body to galvanize global sustainability agenda

UN, 27 June 2014 – With the close of the Millennium Development Goal era just months away, and work already beginning on a successor agenda to reign in poverty and put the planet on a sustainable course before it is too late, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today the “timing could not be better” for the launch of a strong UN body tackling all issues relating to the environment.
“We are now poised for the crucial next phase of human development – a universal post-2015 sustainable development agenda. That agenda needs a strong voice for the environment,” Mr. Ban said in his address to the closing session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), which held its inaugural meeting this week in Nairobi, Kenya. 

More than 1,200 high-level participants, including UN officials, diplomatic and civil society delegations, have been taking part in the historic first session of the Environment Assembly, being held under the theme “A Life of Dignity for All.”
The body, created in answer to a call made by governments at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) for a more representative entity dealing with the issue, includes all 193 UN Member States sitting alongside major stakeholders. The Environment Assembly now plans to meet every two years and will replace the Governing Council of the Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
“With its augmented role as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly, UNEA has the mandate and capacity to position the environment alongside peace and security, poverty reduction, global health, trade and sustainable economic growth as an issue of crucial importance to every government,” said Mr. Ban.
At UNEA this week, stakeholders deliberated on many important topics – including the sustainable development goals, consumption and production patterns, the environmental rule of law, and the illegal trade in timber and wildlife. “The message is clear: protecting humanity’s life support system is integral to sustainable development. And it is a duty for all,” the UN chief declared.....................http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48154#.U63YgkDm7gw
27/6/14
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Τρίτη, Ιουνίου 17, 2014

FAO hails China's success in achieving anti-hunger goal

Proper agricultural policies and reforms, and impressive increases in domestic food production helped China meet the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG), the chief of the UN's food agency says.

"China has already made outstanding progress to this goal, in part due to policies that support targeted investments in agriculture, reforms in the agricultural system, and impressive increases in domestic food production," Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told Xinhua in a recent interview.


On Monday, FAO awarded a prize to China, along with Chile and Morocco, for having met the MDG-1 target of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015, as compared with 1990-91 figures, in a special ceremony at the agency's headquarters.

According to the FAO, China reduced the prevalence of undernourishment from 22.9 percent in 1990-92 to 11.4 percent in 2011-13, bringing the estimated number of chronically hungry people down from 272.1 million to 158 million.

Graziano da Silva highlighted FAO's appreciation toward China for its steps of putting policies in place to address a potential contradiction between farmland and growing urbanization.

He highly praised China's policies of maintaining the current size of farmland for agriculture, setting a "bottom line" to contain urban erosion of land for agricultural production.

FAO was willing to work with China to further intensify agricultural production in areas of high potential and improve efficiency in sustainable ways, he said.

"Through FAO-supported training and knowledge-sharing programs, for example, farmers in developing countries are conserving and restoring nutrients to the soil, and making greater use of natural or low-chemical methods for processes like pest and weed control," Graziano da Silva said.

  • "Early trials show growers can lower crop water needs by 30 percent and energy costs of production by up to 60 percent," he said.
Meanwhile, the FAO chief also voiced hope China would continue to make efforts to achieve greater success under the framework of the Zero Hunger Challenge, an anti-hunger blueprint launched by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2012.

He praised a plan unveiled by the Chinese government in January 2014 for rural reforms, further modernization of agriculture, and improvement of farmers' incomes.

"The government has outlined a number of measures to accomplish these objectives. These include speeding up the transfer of rural land, offering more subsidies to family farms and farmers' cooperatives, and supporting further research," he said. "The government has also listed ensuring the security of grain supplies and those of other major farm products as one of its priorities."

Graziano da Silva called for all efforts to realize goals set in the Zero Hunger Challenge, which will lead to a food secure and sustainable future.

"Reaching and maintaining such standards will require the involvement of every facet of society, including the government, businesses, researchers and scientists, local communities and families," he said. 

Sources: Xinhua - china.org.cn - globaltimes.cn
17/6/14

Δευτέρα, Ιουνίου 09, 2014

World Oceans Day 2014 (U.S. State Department)

John Kerry, Secretary of State, June 8, 2014:

"World Oceans Day is a time to pause and focus on protecting our ocean: our planet’s most extraordinary ecosystem.
Life as we know it wouldn't be possible were it not for our ocean. We depend on the ocean for life’s essentials: the food we eat and the air that we breathe. It provides jobs for millions of people around the world, and a home for countless unique species.


The wonders of the ocean were impressed upon me at an early age in Massachusetts. my father taught me how to fish, and my mother taught me what happens when trash dumped into the ocean ends back up on the shore or kills sea turtles. I learned much more as a Senator working for fishing families that saw their way of life threatened when the oceans weren't properly protected.

We all have a responsibility to protect our ocean against the threats of overfishing, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. The entire system is interdependent, and we ignore that fact at our peril.
The bad news is that our ocean is in trouble. The good news is that we know what’s threatening it, and we know what we need to do in order to deal with these threats.

It’s not lost on any of us that we haven’t yet achieved the political consensus necessary to spur action. And, frankly, we know there’s no way that governments are going to tackle these enormous challenges alone. We need grassroots action to push us over the finish line, and that includes action from businesses, students, community groups, and advocacy and research organizations.

As Secretary of State, I am committed to doing everything I can to leave a healthy, thriving ocean for our children and future generations. But we need to do this together. One week from tomorrow, on June 16-17, I will host the “Our Ocean” conference. We’re bringing together high-level representatives from governments around the world, scientists, the environmental community, industry, and other stakeholders to address the challenges of sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification, and how we can work together to solve them.

Every action counts. It’s our ocean to share and that means we each share the responsibility to act as its steward. So - please pause - enjoy - celebrate - and let’s commit to work together as we chart a new way forward for a healthy ocean and a secure, prosperous planet."

[State Department]
8/6/14
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Δευτέρα, Μαΐου 19, 2014

Fish more important than ever in providing jobs, feeding the world. – UN report

UN, 19 May 2014 – A new United Nations report highlights the growing role of fish and aquaculture in feeding the world and providing a source of income, and calls for the sustainable and responsible management of the so-called ‘blue world.’

Global fisheries and aquaculture production totalled 158 million tonnes in 2012 – around 10 million tonnes more than 2010 – according to the latest edition of “The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture,” produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


The report highlights the great potential of fish farming in responding to the growing demand for food as a result of global population growth. In addition, the planet’s oceans – if sustainably managed – are crucial to providing jobs and feeding the world.

“The health of our planet as well as our own health and future food security all hinge on how we treat the blue world,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said in a news release.

“We need to ensure that environmental well-being is compatible with human well-being in order to make long-term sustainable prosperity a reality for all,” he noted, adding that FAO is committed to promoting ‘Blue Growth,’ which is based on the sustainable and responsible management of aquatic resources.

FAO notes that the renewed focus on the so-called ‘blue world’ comes as the share of fisheries production used for food has grown from about 70 per cent in the 1980s to a record high of more than 85 per cent (136 million tonnes) in 2012. At the same time, per capita fish consumption has soared from 10 kilogrammes in the 1960s to more than 19 kilogrammes in 2012.

The new report also says fish now accounts for almost 17 per cent of the global population’s intake of protein – in some coastal and island countries it can top 70 per cent.

FAO estimates that fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of 10 to 12 per cent of the world’s population. Since 1990 employment in the sector has grown at a faster rate than the world’s population and in 2012 provided jobs for some 60 million people. Of these, 84 per cent were employed in Asia, followed by Africa with about 10 per cent.

Among other findings in the report are that just over 70 per cent of wild fish stocks are being fished within biologically sustainable levels; fish remains among the most traded food commodities worldwide, worth almost $130 billion in 2012; and an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food are lost per year – to about one-third of all food produced.

[un.org]
19/5/14
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