Farm Bureau chief urges U.S. to resolve GMO corn dispute with Mexico
On the day before President Biden was to meet Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the head of the largest U.S. farm group called for prompt resolution of a threat by Mexico to block imports of U.S. corn in one year's time.
Biden administration defines upstream reach of clean water laws
Stepping ahead of a pending Supreme Court ruling, the Biden administration spelled out through a new regulation the upstream reach of water pollution laws, saying it would assure safe drinking water for Americans "while supporting agriculture, local economies and downstream communities." Farm and home-builder groups, who helped stall an Obama-era definition of the "waters of the United States" (WOTUS), said the Biden WOTUS rule also was a regulatory nightmare built on murky interpretations of the law.
Advocates looked for a ‘Paris moment’ at biodiversity talks. They think they got it.
Environmental groups at the UN Biodiversity Conference hoped for a "Paris moment" for nature — one that would bring the same urgency to the fight against biodiversity loss that now propels the one against climate change. As the conference came to a close in Montreal on Monday, there was the sense among many that they had largely succeeded, even if putting the deal into practice will require a huge effort. (No paywall)
As ecological ‘triple threat’ looms, U.S. envoy urges action on biodiversity
Leaders must act to confront the "triple threat" of nature loss, climate change and pollution, said Monica Medina, the U.S. Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources, speaking Friday at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal. (No paywall)
Food-system reform is crucial, but controversial, piece of biodiversity deal
At the UN Biodiversity Conference, currently underway in Montreal, delegates from 196 countries are trying to craft a plan to reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030. And food production, which is responsible for 70 percent of terrestrial biodiversity loss and half of the loss of freshwater species, is proving to be a key but contentious variable in fulfilling that goal. (No paywall)
As UN Biodiversity Conference opens, a plea for ‘a peace pact’ with nature
With one million species at risk of extinction, policymakers, scientists and activists gathered for the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal to hammer out a plan to end and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. Agriculture — considered the driver of 70 percent of all biodiversity loss — is key to the negotiations, which will center on conserving land and water, reducing pollution, redirecting subsidies that enable environmental harm, and curtailing unsustainable production and consumption. No paywall
What seed saving can tell us about the end of the world
"In fewer than 100 years, seed-saving, a practice that had always been essential to human survival, went from mainstream to something most of us are barely aware of, something happening at the fringes of our food culture — small farms, Native communities, survivalists," write Kea Krause, in FERN's latest story, published with Orion Magazine. No paywall
Report: Farmers plowed up 1.8 million acres of grasslands in 2020
U.S. and Canadian farmers plowed up about 1.8 million acres of Great Plains grasslands to plant crops in 2020, according to a report released Tuesday by the World Wildlife Federation. The report also showed that, for the first time since 2016, wheat surpassed corn and soy as the leading crop driving annual grasslands loss across the entirety of the Great Plains, and not just within the northern Great Plains.
Report: Biodiversity loss, climate change driving an ‘escalating nature crisis’
Wildlife populations plummeted 69 percent worldwide between 1970 and 2018, according to a report released Wednesday by the World Wildlife Fund. Food systems were a key driver of this biodiversity loss, responsible for 70 percent of the population decline of land animals and half of the decline in freshwater species. Conservation alone will not be enough to halt these declines, wrote the authors, who said that scaling up sustainable food production is crucial. (No paywall)
Soil, people, landforms are factors in tree diversity
For more than 200 years, scientists have known that tree diversity — the number of different types of trees found near each other — is highest near the equator and diminishes moving into the middle and higher latitudes. The conventional explanation for this decline in local species richness has been temperature and precipitation.
Frustrated by official process, conservationists release plan for wolves in Colorado
In November 2020, Colorado voters approved a measure to reintroduce gray wolves to the state, 76 years after the last wolf was killed there. Now Colorado Parks and Wildlife is developing a plan to reintroduce wolves. But conservation groups say the process to date hasn’t included enough public input and has instead been dominated by the very groups responsible for the eradication of wolves in the first place — hunters and ranchers. (No paywall)
Fragile recovery in monarch butterfly population
The monarch butterfly is imperiled by the loss of food and habitat as well as climate change but an expansion in its winter hibernation area was "a sign of recovery — albeit a fragile one," WWF said in an annual survey.
High commodity prices shift conservation lands to crop fields
Landowners told the USDA they will take 1.7 million acres out of the long-term Conservation Reserve and put it back into crop production, betting on profits from sky-high commodity prices. This year’s “general signup” for the reserve would also bring the smallest amount of land into the reserve …
Bringing back ‘good fire’ to the eastern seaboard
“A growing movement of scientists, land management agencies, conservation organizations, and indigenous groups is working to return fire to fire-adapted ecosystems, including forests and grasslands, throughout the U.S.,” writes Gabriel Popkin in FERN's latest story, published with Yale Environment 360.
Report: Land use and farming have crucial role to play in avoiding climate catastrophe
A major UN climate report released on Monday lays out a broad array of strategies for limiting emissions and mitigating climate change. While the most critical priority is to quickly phase out the use of fossil fuels, the report outlined many opportunities to help limit climate change by altering how land is managed and food is produced. And, critically, most of these options are “available and ready to deploy,” the authors wrote. (No paywall)
Study: Ag’s ammonia emissions rose 78 percent over last 40 years
Agricultural intensification and a lack of regulations drove a 78-percent increase in the farm sector’s ammonia emissions between 1980 and 2018, according to a paper published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.
British Columbia’s booming wood-pellet industry threatens old-growth forests
“BC’s inland rainforest — which once totaled over 1.3 million hectares — is endangered, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature criteria, and could experience ecological collapse within a decade if current logging rates continue,” as Brian Barth reports in …
Report: Food-system change ‘startlingly absent’ from countries’ climate change commitments
Food systems account for roughly a third of global greenhouse emissions worldwide, yet a new analysis finds that strategies to reform how food is grown, processed and consumed are “startlingly absent” from most countries’ plans to tackle climate change. (No paywall)