GMO wheat approved for consumption in Australia and New Zealand

Food regulators approved a genetically modified wheat variety for human consumption in Australia and New Zealand, a victory in the rocky campaign to apply biotechnology to grains directly consumed as part of the diet. No GMO wheat is approved for sale in the United States.

War to cut Ukraine and Russia wheat exports by 12 percent

The Russian invasion of Ukraine will slash wheat exports from the countries by a combined 12 percent, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday in an initial assessment of the short-term impact of the war. Nations from Europe to Asia and Africa will import somewhat less wheat in coming months in the face of higher prices and reduced supplies from the Black Sea region, it said.

Higher prices, smaller exports for U.S. wheat

U.S. wheat exports are slowing due to high prices and rising global production, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday. "U.S. export prices are expected to remain elevated [for] the rest of 2021/22, further diminishing U.S. competitiveness," said the USDA's monthly WASDE report.

With better rains, Australia harvests twice as much wheat

World wheat production is headed for a record high this year, with a bumper crop in Australia providing the latest bump upward. Australia's crop forecasters, in an estimate adopted by the USDA on Tuesday, say the wheat harvest "is estimated to have increased by 120 percent in 2020-21 to 33.3 million tonnes."

Last-ditch fight against CRISPR deregulation in Australia

A government decision to deregulate gene-editing tools such as CRISPR met a last-stop challenge in the Australian Senate, with an organic farmers’ group expressing concerns that it will be “sacrificed for the sake of unregulated GMO tech.”

Bad weather batters wheat crops in Australia and Brazil

Wheat production in Australia is down by 36 percent from a year ago because of drought, said the USDA’s World Agricultural Production report.

The kangaroo is on Australia’s coat of arms. It may be on the dinner plate, too.

There are nearly twice as many kangaroos as people in Australia and the rapid rise in kangaroo population, up 66 percent this decade, is fanning a novel idea for the nation: Eat more kangaroo meat, reports the BBC. It could be a hard sell, since the kangaroo and the emu are on the national coat of arms, and the kangaroo is a popular symbol of the country.

Australia proposes more fishing in its marine sanctuaries

More than one-third of Australian waters are are protected by law, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is asking Parliament to allow fishing in 80 percent of those waters, up from the current 64 percent, reports the New York Times. If approved, "it will be the first time a nation has scaled back its regulations in protected maritime areas."

Drought in Europe, aridity in Australia imperil wheat crops

Extremely dry weather in Australia, southern Europe and the U.S. northern Plains could mark the end of record-large wheat crops worldwide, says Reuters. Analysts expect the Australian wheat crop will be markedly smaller than the government forecasts while grain production in Italy and parts of Spain could be the smallest in at least 20 years.

UNESCO gives Great Barrier Reef a pass

The United Nations’ UNESCO committee has voted to not add the Great Barrier Reef to its “in danger” list, despite the biggest die-off of coral ever at the World Heritage Site. "We're taking every action possible to ensure this great wonder of the world stays viable and healthy for future generations to come,” Australia's Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio.

China gobbling up farmland in Australia

To feed its 1.3 billion citizens, China is amassing large tracts of agricultural land in Australia, replacing the United States as the second-largest foreign owner of farmland in the country.

Somalis bring camel meat to the Midwest

In Minnesota, American restaurant-goers are discovering camel meat, a prized food among Somali refugees in the state and an environmental pest in Australia, says Erica Berry in FERN’s latest story with NPR’s The Salt. Traditionally nomadic, the Somali community has relied on camels for milk and …

Aussies back low-gluten barley and livestock feed from seaweed

Australia is setting up a $200-million innovation fund — half public and half private money — to try to commercialize breakthrough research from universities, government agencies and other research bodies, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Among the projects are Kebari, an ultra-low-gluten barley and FutureFeed, an additive for livestock rations made from seaweed that dramatically reduces methane emissions by cattle.

China says will end ban on U.S. beef; when is unclear

Nearly 13 years ago, China shut its borders to U.S. beef in reaction to the first U.S. case of mad cow disease. Now, the government says it will end the ban, leaving U.S. officials and cattle producers asking for a timeline, says the Wall Street Journal.

Solar-powered farm desalinates seawater to grow tomatoes

Sundrop Farm, a 20-hectare site near Port Augusta in the South Australian desert, is "the first agricultural system of its kind in the world and uses no soil, pesticides, fossil fuels or groundwater," says New Scientist. The farm runs on solar-generated electricity and desalinates seawater that is piped 5.5 km to the farm, which the news site says "might be the face of farming in the future."

Australian study rejects government-subsidized drought insurance

Unlike other countries, including the United States, Australia does not provide subsidized insurance against drought. A newly released study, commissioned by the state of New South Wales after three years of drought across the nation's East coast, rejected any change in policy, says Reuters.

Saddling up to ride herd, a robot from Australia

A common job for cowboys — for some, it's an all-day duty — is riding through herds to check on cattle health. With labor getting harder to find, Salah Sukkarieh, an Australian professor of robots, is developing a solar- and electric-powered four-wheel robot to handle the work, reports the Washington Post.

Anti-GMO law faces repeal in Western Australia

The agriculture minister of Western Australia is moving to repeal the state's GM Crop Free Areas Act with repeal by the state Parliament almost certain, says Australia's ABC News. Agriculture Minister Ken Baston planned to introduce the repeal legislation on Thursday, "a move which pro-GM advocates said would safeguard the industry's future."

El Niño drives 20-percent increase in Australian beef exports

The Australian government forecasting agency raised its estimate of beef exports in the trade year that ends next July 1 by 20 percent, as ranchers liquidate their herds in the face of drought worsened by El Niño, said Reuters.

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