Why Are the Residents of This Small Village So Happy? They’re Managing Their Farmland as Commons...

Nov 27, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Food Their fundamental premise is that the value of farmland lies in its contribution to food production, lasting ecosystems and human life—not financial gain. By Véronique Rioufol, Sjoerd Wartena / Levellers Press  VIA ALTERNET Senior woman with a basket of harvested vegetables against a hothouse Photo Credit: Alexander Raths/Shutterstock The following essay was published in the book Patterns of Commoning, edited by David Bollier and Silke Helfrich (Levellers Press, 2015) A feeling of joy and achievement runs through the group of ten people gathered in Robert’s kitchen. After three years of planning, they have come to celebrate: Ingrid and Fabien will soon be able to settle down and develop their farming business. The farm is theirs! In this small, pastoral village of the French Pre-Alps, establishing young farmers is an act of will. Everywhere,...

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AGROFORESTRY CAN BOOST PROFITS AND HELP SAVE THE PLANET...

Oct 10, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] By Paul Brown / Climate News Network     Trees planted as windbreaks for crops in Minnesota. (Eli Sagor via Flickr) LONDON—Feeding the world’s growing population in a rapidly warming world will not be possible with modern intensive agriculture that relies on cutting down more forests to plant crops, according to new research. The only way to produce enough crops and mitigate climate change at the same time is to adopt what the researchers have called agroforestry, a system of growing crops alongside trees and shrubs. In a paper published in Sustainability journal, scientists from the department of crop sciences at the University of Illinois, US, say one of the most difficult aspects of the idea is changing farmers’ attitudes. Adopting agroforestry Matt Wilson, a graduate student who has been talking to farmers...

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SEEDS OF CORPORATE POWER VS. FARMERS’ RIGHTS...

Oct 7, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   By Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Foreign Policy in Focus | Report (Photo: Pascal Frei; Edited: LW / TO) The consolidation of corporate power in agriculture has been in the news a lot lately, first with the proposed ChemChina-Syngenta and Dow-DuPont mergers, and now with Bayer’s proposal to purchase seed giant Monsanto. National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson testified in Congress that the proposed mergers would enable just three corporations to control 80 percent of the USseed supply (and 70 percent of the global pesticide market). The result is that farmers have fewer and fewer choices about the kinds of seeds they want to plant. The concentration of processing and distribution also limits options and further squeezes farmers at a time when prices are tumbling around the globe. This expansion of corporate control is also happening in...

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A clear contrast of sustainable and unsustainable farming practices — in 20 seconds!...

Sep 12, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] GRIST … till proven guilty Of course, there are scores of variables when it comes to sustainable farming, but this little video shows the huge difference between no-till and conventional farming: The video starts on a no-till field — one that isn’t ever plowed. Instead of tilling, or turning over the soil to kill weeds, farmers plant directly into the thatch of grasses and usually use an application of herbicide to knock down weeds. When farmers leave fields bare, like in the other field, soil washes away and local waters are polluted. Ground cover protects the soil and dramatically reduces erosion. People often think sustainable farming means no chemicals, but sometimes judicious use of chemistry allows for more environmentally friendly options — like keeping the ground covered. Want to learn more? Here are one, two, three stories...

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Here’s Why the Navajo Nation Is Suing the EPA Over Colorado’s Mining Catastrophe...

Aug 28, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Madeleine Thomas PACIFIC STANDARD The San Juan River is one of the most sacred and agriculturally important areas to the Navajo Nation. It’s also the site of a three-million-gallon toxic mine spill.   Residue from the release of mining chemicals sits on rocks in the Animas River in Durango, Colorado. (Photo: Theo Stroomer/Getty Images) This time last year, images of Colorado’s Animas River were going viral, leaving many mystified or downright disturbed by the waterway’s Willy Wonka-esque shade of golden orange. The culprit of the bizarre phenomenon: a slurry of mining chemicals which had burst from a sealed entryway to a defunct gold mine, the Gold King Mine, located upstream. The images were met with outrage: In the last year, there have been Congressional hearings and an ongoing criminal investigation into causes of...

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FARMING’S DIRTY NEEDS HAVE A DEADLY EFFECT...

May 26, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   By Tim Radford / Climate News Network     Fertilizers are a major contributor to air pollution in the United States, Europe, Russia and China. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) This piece first appeared at Climate News Network. LONDON—Farming is a dirty business—so dirty now that, according to new research, air pollution from agriculture in the form of fine particles of lung-choking dust outweighs all other human sources of that kind of pollution. These particles are calculated to cause around 3.3 million deaths a year worldwide—and most of this lung-penetrating murk is from fertilisers. Back in 1950, the world produced 20 million tons of artificial fertilisers, but farmers now spread on their fields every year around 190 million tons. Ammonia from the nitrogen-based compounds gathers in the air, and combines with the...

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CLIMATE CHANGE MAY TURN CROPS INTO JUNK FOOD...

Apr 19, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] TAKE PART DAILY   Tove Danovich is a journalist based in New York City. Rising CO2 levels will make plants produce more carbohydrates and fewer nutrients and protein. (Photos: Neil Howard/Flickr; Lew Robertson/Getty Images)   Plants love carbon dioxide. Higher levels of CO2 in the air increase the rate of photosynthesis—it’s why planting more trees helps to clean the air, after all. For a time, that love had some scientists convinced that the world’s greenery could keep CO2 levels in the atmosphere in check—but research has now shown not only that plants alone can’t halt the rise of CO2 but that the increase will make food crops less healthy for human consumption. According to one new study, higher carbon dioxide levels could turn healthy fruits and veggies into junk food. According to a report...

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INTENSE FARMING PRACTICES CAN HELP SAVE WILDLIFE...

Apr 16, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] TAKE PART DAILY Human population growth means we need to farm more efficiently so we don’t plow what’s left of the world’s natural habitat. (Photo: Chris Winsor/Getty Images) Richard Conniff is the author of House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth, and other books.   You probably don’t think agricultural intensification could ever be a good thing. And you certainly wouldn’t expect an argument for more of it in a column about wildlife. But here’s the deal: If we don’t figure out how to grow more food on less land, we’re going to have to plow under what little remains of the natural world and turn it into farmland. And we have to figure it out fast, because there are going to be 10 billion people to...

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THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON FUNGICIDES...

Apr 14, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] By Mark Sumner  DAILY KOS This guy might not be the only one who ends up in a fog. Science Matters Daily Kos While Republicans are actively trying to bring back DDT to please big agriculture, concern is growing about other pesticides and fungicides that are already out there. In your food. In your body. In your brain. … a team of University of North Carolina Neuroscience Center researchers led by Mark Zylka subjected mouse cortical neuron cultures—which are similar in cellular and molecular terms to the the human brain—to 294 chemicals “commonly found in the environment and on food.” The idea was to see whether any of them triggered changes that mimicked patterns found in brain samples from people with autism, advanced age, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. This is initial research, and obviously mouse brain...

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We’ve Changed a Life-Giving Nutrient Into a Deadly Pollutant—Can We Change It Back?...

Apr 6, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   Environment In the process of producing food, we’ve inadvertently filled our planet with toxic forms of nitrogen. By Elizabeth Grossman / Ensia   VIA ALTERNET A lot of dead fish on the beach Photo Credit: Brandon Seidel/Shutterstock Coastal dead zones, global warming, excess algae blooms, acid rain, ocean acidification, smog, impaired drinking water quality, an expanding ozone hole and biodiversity loss. Seemingly diverse problems, but a common thread connects them: human disruption of how a single chemical element, nitrogen, interacts with the environment. Nitrogen is absolutely crucial to life — an indispensable ingredient of DNA, proteins and essentially all living tissue — yet it also can choke the life out of aquatic ecosystems, destroy trees and sicken people when it shows up in excess at the wrong place, at the wrong time, in...

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CARBON SINKS: THE NEXT BIG THING (PART 3)...

Mar 27, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] THE BLOG HUFFINGTON POST William S. Becker Executive Director, Presidential Climate Action Project This is the 3rd in a four-part post on using ecosystems to store carbon. Part 1 was about the need to bring the Earth’s carbon cycle back into balance. Part 2 discussed how restoring carbon sinks is a necessary part of America’s climate action plan. In this part, I describe why we should not always choose a technical fix to solve environmental problems. The late American critic Lawrence Clark Powell noted, “We are the children of the technological age”. He might have added that like children, we run to technology when we have a problem. We want a technical fix. A technical fix has appeal because it allows people to continue business as usual without the usual consequences — to...

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Dozens of Nations Back Regenerative Farming Initiative That Can Help Solve Global Warming...

Dec 15, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Food The U.S.—a primary driver of the climate crisis—still isn’t on board with this historic climate agreement. By Katherine Paul, Ronnie Cummins / AlterNet Photo Credit: GlebStock/Shutterstock.com France, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the U.K., Germany and Mexico are among more than two dozen countries that have signed on to an agreement that one day may be recognized as the most significant climate initiative in history.France’s 4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate puts regenerative food and farming front and center in the climate solutions conversation. This is why the Organic Consumers Association, its Mexico affiliate Via Organica, IFOAM Organics International and more than 50 other activist allies across the globe have signed on in support of the Initiative. Unfortunately, the U.S. government is not yet on board with the plan, even though our...

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HERE’S A SOLUTION FOR THOSE OUT-OF-CONTROL TOXIC ALGAE BLOOMS...

Aug 31, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Algae warning along Lake Erie, in Ohio    REUTERS/Joshua Lott Against the ooze By Heather Mack   GRIST I have a confession to make: I love corn. I also love soy. Dammit, I even love wheat, like most American eaters. I love it baked, ground, deep-fried, or transformed into sirloin. And, let’s face it – even the most packaged-food snubbing, label-reading locavores among us let some form of these conventional, fertilizer-loving crops slip past our lips every now and then. Unfortunately, feeding these crops and ourselves also means feeding environmental catastrophe. Case in point, the massive algae bloom that has cropped up on Lake Erie. Show me a crop that loves fertilizer, and I’ll show you an aquatic bacteria that loves it even more. Invigorated from phosphorus-laden runoff sweeping out of farms, the...

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Four Ways Mexico’s Indigenous Farmers Are Practicing the Agriculture of the Future...

Aug 28, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Food How can we get the most out of our farmland without harming the planet? I traveled to rural Mexico to learn from indigenous farmers. By Leah Penniman / YES! Magazine  VIA ALTERNET Affectionately called “Professor” by his neighbors, Josefino Martinez is a well-respected indigenous farmer and community organizer from the remote town of Chicahuaxtla, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. He watched with patient attention as I showed him photographs of Soul Fire Farm, my family’s organic farm in the mountains of upstate New York. I tried to convince Martinez that our farms had a lot in common. “Like you, we have marginal mountain soils and steep slopes, and we’ve worked for years to build up the fertility,” I explained.  Martinez finished his simple breakfast of fresh corn tortillas with black beans....

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Temple Grandin digs in on the practical side of what animals want...

Jul 22, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Red Maxwell By Nathanael Johnson Temple Grandin, an animal scientist who teaches at Colorado State University, works to improve animal welfare in farming. She is autistic, and, as she told Terry Gross, she thinks that may give her a special ability to do her work: It was easy for me to figure out how animals think and how animals would react because I think visually. Animals don’t think in language. They think in pictures. It’s very easy for me to imagine what would it be like to go through a system if you really were a cow, not a person in a cow costume but really were a cow, and autistic senses and emotions are more like the senses of an animal. My nervous system was hyper-vigilant. Any little thing out of place, like a...

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WELCOME TO FAIRMEAD, CA., WHERE YOU HAVE TO WALK A MILE FOR A SIP OF WATER...

Jul 20, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] For some Californians the drought means brown lawns. For others, it means nothing to drink. By Sasha Abramsky  THE NATION The tiny, dusty town of Fairmead, California, feels a long way from anywhere. It’s the kind of place where people come to start anew, hoping to silence the ghosts of hard times past. There are the African-Americans whose families migrated out of the segregated Deep South more than half a century ago, looking for farmwork and a place where they could hold their heads high. There are the migrants from Mexico, who came in search of a slightly better life than the one they had left south of the border. There are the Anglo descendants of refugees from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. And there are elderly adventurers looking for something new—for a little...

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WILL THE WORST BIRD FLU OUTBREAK IN U.S. HISTORY FINALLY MAKE US RECONSIDER FACTORY FARMING CHICKEN?...

Jul 14, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] The outbreak has required that farmers resort to fire-extinguisher foam to kill off infected flocks. Can commercial farms protect themselves, or is US chicken farming fundamentally unsustainable? avian flu bird flu chicken farming Chicken farmer Craig Watts walks though a chicken house looking for dead and injured birds at C&A Farms in Fairmont, North Carolina. Industrial chicken farms have been hit hard by bird flu this year, prompting questions about how farming practices contribute to the disease’s spread. Photograph: Randall Hill/Reuters The avian flu outbreak that has more than doubled egg prices across the country has also led to the death of more than 48 million birds in a dozen states, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Iowa, the hardest hit, has euthanized more than 31 million birds, including approximately 40% of...

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A BOLD PLAN FOR SAVING POLLINATORS...

Jun 27, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] THE DIRT   by Jared Green “We need solutions to the bee crisis,” said Laurie Davies Adams, head of the Pollinator Partnership, at a packed briefing on Capitol Hill, which was organized by her organization and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). The honey bee crisis Adams is deeply worried about is caused by the spread of colony collapse disorder, which has decimated hives across the U.S. Scientists say a combination of stressors is killing off honey bees, including the loss of the habitat they need for foraging, the widespread use of agricultural pesticides and fungicides, and disease. Other critical pollinators, like native bees, monarch butterflies, and bats, face similar challenges. While the destruction of these species is a cause of concern in itself, it’s also causing real fears among many of country’s...

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CALIFORNIA IS SINKING FASTER THAN EVER, THANKS TO MASSIVE OVERPUMPING OF WATER...

Jun 11, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Shutterstock By Nathan Halverson  GRIST This story was originally published by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. California is sinking – and fast. While the state’s drought-induced sinking is well known, new details highlight just how severe it has become and how little the government has done to monitor it. Last summer, scientists recorded the worst sinking in at least 50 years. This summer, all-time records are expected across the state as thousands of miles of land in the Central Valley and elsewhere sink. But the extent of the problem and how much it will cost taxpayers to fix are part of the mystery of the state’s unfolding drought. No agency is tracking the sinking statewide, little public money has been...

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IT’S TIME TO WEAN OURSELVES OFF THE FAIRYTALE VERSION OF FARMING...

May 30, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] George Monbiot   THE GUARDIAN Children’s tales bear no resemblance to the cruelty of most modern farms, yet this image enables us to turn a blind eye to animal welfare and is exploited by the industry for profit – as Kerrygold’s recent Guardian advertorial shows ‘At a deep, subconscious level, the farm remains a place of harmony and kindness – and this suits us very well if we want to keep eating meat.’ Photograph: Ikon Images/Alamy The way that meat, eggs and milk are produced is surrounded by one of our great silences, in which most people collaborate. We don’t want to know, because knowing would force anyone with a capacity for empathy to change their diet. You break this silence at your peril. After I published an article on chicken farming last week,...

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Congressional Republicans are outraged that the EPA wants to protect our drinking water...

May 28, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] “The only people with reason to oppose the rule are polluters who knowingly threaten our clean water” Lindsay Abrams  SALON.COM (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) (Credit: AP) The EPA knew it was stepping onto a battlefield Wednesday when it released its final version of a rule aimed at protecting America’s stream and wetlands, clearing up confusion inherent in the original Clean Water Act and allowing regulators to stop pollution from spreading to the larger waterways on which one in three Americans rely for drinking water. And the agency was ready for the critics. “The only people with reason to oppose the rule,” White House Senior Advisor Brian Deese told reporters on a press call Wednesday, “are polluters who knowingly threaten our clean water.” So who are those willful polluters? Congressional Republicans, along with a...

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5 ways to tackle the mess that bees are in...

May 27, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Jack Wolf Hive five By Nathanael Johnson GRIST The news about bees’ woes has been circulating for so long that you may have tuned it out. But we’ve also known about bee problems long enough that scientists are beginning to offer up solutions. There seem to be several things teaming up on bees and other pollinators; one of them is a parasitic mite called the Varroa destructor. Varroa mites may have something to do with colony collapse, though that’s still a mystery. Journalist Charles C. Mann takes National Geographic readers on a tour of the ideas to make the Varroa mite less of a destructor in this article. The following five solutions are drawn from his piece. Solution 1 — Miticide This is the main way beekeepers deal with Varroa right now. It’s not...

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Tree-Based Farming Could Deliver Abundant Benefits...

May 9, 2015 Posted by

[Translate]   By Tim Radford, physician Climate News Network   VIA TRUTHDIG     A forest in Zambia devastated by slash-and-burn agriculture. (Colalife via Wikimedia Commons) This Creative Commons-licensed piece first appeared at Climate News Network. LONDON—Forests may be the green investment with the richest returns for humankind, stomach according to new research. While one study outlines the ways in which forests provide food, cheap fuel, shelter and a safety net for more than a billion humans, a separate one confirms that a canopy of older, sturdier trees helps protect the saplings and juvenile growths against heat and drought. An international team of more than 60 scientists collaborated on a report—Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition: a Global Assessment Report—just published by the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO). “Large-scale crop production...

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Esther the Wonder Pig is wondrous indeed — but so are all pigs...

May 4, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] SALON.COM During 10 years as a pig farmer I came to know pigs as well as I know my own dog. That’s why I quit Bob Comis Esther the Wonder Pig is wondrous indeed — but so are all pigsEsther the Wonder Pig (Credit: Facebook/Esther the Wonder Pig) There is a pig out there who lives with a family of humans, dogs and cats, not other pigs. Her name is Esther, and we should all get to know her. Her human family members, Derek Walter and Steve Jenkins, believe she is wondrous, so her name is not just Esther. It is Esther the Wonder Pig. Derek and Steve believe that Esther is so wondrous that they turned Esther onto social media. She has her own Facebook page. She is on YouTube. She even...

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How can we stop farmer suicides?...

Apr 16, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Grist / Grant Wood By Madeleine Thomas  GRIST Trigger warning: This piece discusses suicide, depression, and suicide’s aftermath.  Mona Lee Brock went into the office early that morning, as she always did, when she received a panicked phone call. The telephones in the crisis center were lighting up all over the place, as was common. This particular call was from a farmer’s wife. A day prior, the farmer had spoken to Brock and agreed not to hurt himself, but now his wife couldn’t find him. And she was afraid. Brock asked where the farmer kept his .410 shotgun. It was the height of the ’80s farm crisis, one of the greatest economic turmoils since the Great Depression. Drought and defaulted loans left hundreds of thousands of farmers broke. Many farmers became homeless or worse yet,...

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Seed Libraries Are Sprouting Up Across the Planet, and Corporate Dominated Govts Are Trying to Stop Them...

Mar 18, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Environment Amid government crackdown, seed libraries expand biodiversity and food access. By Christopher D. Cook / Shareable   VIA ALTERNET It’s easy to take seeds for granted. Tiny dry pods hidden in packets and sacks, they make a brief appearance as gardeners and farmers collect them for future planting then later drop them into soil. They are not “what’s for dinner,” yet without them there would be no dinner. Seeds are the forgotten heroes of food—and of life itself. Sharing these wellsprings of sustenance may sound innocuous enough, yet this increasingly popular exchange—and wider seed access—is up against a host of legal and economic obstacles. The players in this surreal saga, wherein the mere sharing of seeds is under attack, range from agriculture officials interpreting seed laws, to powerful corporations expanding their proprietary and...

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vertical harvest urban farm by e/ye design under construction...

Mar 7, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] vertical harvest urban farm by e/ye design under construction all images courtesy of e/ye design       when thinking of the rugged beautiful nature and blistering cold of jackson hole, discount wyoming, treatment urban farm usually doesn’t come to mind. local studio e/ye design however has proved this notion wrong. ‘vertical harvest’ is a vertical hydroponic urban farm occupying 1/10 of an acre in the heart of downtown that will produce the equivalent of 5 acres of produce annually. the project is a response to several deficiencies in the city, namely the need for locally-grown and harvested fruits and vegetables as well as the unemployment of a large population of the employable developmentally disabled community. produce will be distributed to grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, and to individuals at an on-site market. inside...

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CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTS EUROPEAN FARMERS’ YIELDS...

Feb 19, 2015 Posted by

[Translate]   By Tim Raford, ailment Climate News Network     Ears of winter barley ripening in a field in Belgium. (raul.dupagne via Wikimedia Commons) This Creative Commons-licensed piece first appeared at Climate News Network. LONDON—Farmers in Europe have already begun to feel the pinch of climate change as yields of wheat since 1989 have fallen by 2.5% and barley by 3.8% on average across the whole continent. And two Californian scientists now believe that changes in temperature and snow or rainfall during the last quarter of a century are at least partly to blame. The pinch may be gentle, medicine but environmental scientists Frances Moore and David Lobell, of Stanford University, believe it is real.They report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that although changes in farming and environmental policies explain much of the...

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