It appears that China loves cassava, the carbohydrate laden tuberous root that is grown in such tropical and sub-tropical regions as Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America. According to the article “Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears” that appears in today’s New York Times, China is not making the massive quantities of cassava that it imports into consumable stews, dumplings, or tapioca pudding, but is instead using it as an input for biofuel. In 2010, Thailand, the world’s largest exporter of cassava, sent nearly 98% of its stock to China.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, or ATTRA, recently had its $2.8 million funding allotment for 2011 zeroed out. The unfortunate shearing of the ATTRA allocation resulted from its inclusion in the $6 billion federal budget cutting measure that Congress recently undertook in order to keep the federal government funded through April 8th. However, as Congress is now in the midst of debate surrounding funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, there is still time to push for the restoration of ATTRA funding.
As 85% of available employment in Afghanistan is in the agricultural sector, Purdue University has received a 5-year grant of $31.9 million from USAID to help develop a more sustainable agriculture sector in Afghanistan. The grant will fund a program that provides educational training to agriculture faculty members from five major universities in Afghanistan. A major brain drain occurred when most of the highly trained faculty left the country shortly after the Soviet Invasion in the 1980s and Purdue hopes to provide a remedy.
They might not be sued, but then again they might be. It’s all about the possibility of patent-protected transgenic seed, as the famous Dylan song goes, ‘blowin’ in the wind’ and cross-pollinating non-transgenic crops.
In an effort to thwart patent infringement lawsuits that might arise at some point in the future should GM seed ‘blowin’ in the wind’ contaminate their crops, 60 family farmers, organic agricultural organizations, and seed companies have filed a preemptive suit against Monsanto.
IKEA recently released it 2010 Sustainability Report. As it relates to agriculture, sustainable farming of cotton is a key priority for the company’s Sustainability Direction 2015, which seeks to influence the “entire value chain, from product design and development to the very end of a product’s life. IKEA has been working with WWF since 2005 to introduce more sustainable agriculture practices to cotton farmers in Pakistan and India.