Fifty years after the war in Vietnam ended, the nation is still dealing with the toxic legacy of Agent Orange, one of the herbicides sprayed throughout the countryside that directly exposed generations of Vietnamese to dioxin, "the most toxic substance ever created by humans," writes George Black in FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with Yale Environment 360. No paywall
An official at the Department of Veterans Affairs, speaking about Agent Orange, "downplayed the risks of the chemical herbicide and questioned the findings of scientists, journalists and even a federal administrative tribunal that conflict with his views," ProPublica reported. Agent Orange was a defoliant sprayed in rural areas during the Vietnam War and has been linked to a range of illnesses suffered by veterans of the war.
Strains of the influenza virus that decimated Midwestern turkey and egg production in 2014 and 2015 are now wreaking havoc in poultry production in several parts of the world, including China where the virus has jumped species and infected and killed humans.
The global stockpile of coffee is headed for a five-year low, at less than a three-month supply, thanks to record demand that has driven up coffee prices 31 percent since the start of the year, says a semi-annual USDA forecast. "Global consumption is forecast at a record 153.3 million bags," each weighing 60 kg, says USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service.
Climate change could “cut the global area suitable for coffee production by as much as 50 percent by 2050,” largely because of drought and higher temperatures, says a report by the Climate Institute. Of the 25 million coffee farmers around the world, many are small landholders living in countries that are among the most vulnerable to climate change, including Vietnam, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Major retailers like Starbucks have already warned that their customers could see supply shortages, according to the Climate Institute.
One of the largest dairy milk producers in Southeast Asia, Vietnam Dairy Products, "is in talks to acquire another U.S. company" as it expands its international presence, said Bloomberg. Vinamilk, as the company is known, became sole owner Driftwood Dairy in California earlier this year.
Farmers in Vietnam's southernmost province, Ca Mau, in the Mekong River delta, intentionally pierced four dikes erected against saltwater encroachment so they can convert rice paddies to seafood ponds. It was an illegal move, "but we just want to breed prawns to escape poverty," farmer Nguyen Thi Bi told Xinhua news agency as she stood on the edge of a newly created aquaculture pond.
In a step that settled two WTO disputes brought by Vietnam, the United States rescinded anti-dumping duties against the Minh Phu Group for its shipments of frozen shrimp. The Commerce Department said anti-dumping duties will remain in place for all other exporters of warm-water shrimp from Vietnam.
Coffee growers in Vietnam, Indonesia and India, three of the seven largest coffee-producing nations on earth, will harvest smaller crops — down by a combined 2.5 percent — due to drought magnified by the El Niño weather pattern, according to a USDA forecast. The semi-annual Coffee: World Markets and Trade report said a record crop of Arabica beans in Brazil, the world's largest coffee grower, would lead to a modest rise in global production.
Only three countries show no serious signs of malnutrition: China, Vietnam and South Korea, according to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report. The rest of the world is plagued by such poor nutrition indicators as “stunted toddlers, anemic young women and obese adults,” says The New York Times. In the United States, each obese family member costs families an average of 8 percent of their income in additional healthcare.