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Food & agriculture - April 11

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Waiter, why isn't there a fly in my soup?

Patrick Kinglsey, Guardian
Insects such as silkworms and grasshoppers could feed the world's growing population
... Welcome to the Banquet of Insects, which aims to promote bugs as an alternative to meat-based diets. By 2030, the world's population will have reached eight billion, a figure the world's meat farms might not be able to feed. Mass insect farming could provide a more sustainable food source.

Insects are high in protein, relatively low in calories, and cause much less environmental damage than cattle. A meal made from silkworms is, pound for pound, just as nutritious as a beef steak, but farming the worms would require seven times less feed, far less water, and creates no methane footprint.
(12 April 2011)

Britain's taste for cheap food that's killing Brazil's 'other wilderness'

Martin Hickman, Independent/UK
An "upside-down forest" of small trees with deep roots, Brazil's wildlife-rich outback is home to a 20th of the world's species, including the spectacular blue and yellow macaw and giant armadillos.

Yet this vast wilderness – as big the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain put together – is being rapidly lost to feed the heavily carnivorous appetites of Britons and others.

What was, only a generation ago, an almost unbroken two million square kilometre mass of trees and bushes in central Brazil is now covered with fields of soy beans, waiting to be fed to pigs and chickens in Europe and China. Such has been the pace of conversion to agriculture that more than 50 per cent of the Cerrado has already been lost, threatening the future of some of the region's most charismatic animals.

WWF, the wildlife group, now hopes that shoppers in Britain and elsewhere will urge retailers to preserve the Cerrado as robustly as the Amazon rainforest, Brazil's most famous region, where deforestation has dramatically slowed as a result of international pressure.
(11 April 2011)

Nitrogen pollution 'costs EU up to £280bn a year'

Roger Harrabin, BBC
Nitrogen pollution from farms, vehicles, industry and waste treatment is costing the EU up to £280bn (320bn euros) a year, a report says.

The study by 200 European experts says reactive nitrogen contributes to air pollution, fuels climate change and is estimated to shorten the life of the average resident by six months.

Livestock farming is one of the biggest causes of nitrogen pollution, it adds.

It calls for changes in farming and more controls on vehicles and industry.

The problem would be greatly helped if less meat was consumed, the report says.
(10 April 2011)

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