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Editorial (March 2007)

An eroded river gully in Ethiopia. Those in the developing countries will suffer most from the effects of climate change (WRENmedia)
An eroded river gully in Ethiopia. Those in the developing countries will suffer most from the effects of climate change
WRENmedia

As we settle into 2007, navigating the stormy seas of climate change - the issue highlighted in the last few months by the latest IPCC report - is just one of the challenges currently at the centre of much debate and discussion. In the widest consensus yet, scientists agree with 90 per cent certainty that climate change is already taking effect. Climate concern is echoed by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who said in a recent statement, that the danger for humanity posed by war, is at least matched by the climate crisis. He pointed out that those in the developing world who are least responsible for climate change, will suffer the most from its effects, and urged the US to take a leading role in this "urgent issue".

The carbon-sensitive debate is also the topic of this month's Podcast in the truest sense of the word, as it comes from fields of succulent green pea pods in the foothills of the Aberdare mountains in Central Kenya. From there the mange tout and sugar snap peas grown by smallholder farmers are exported to Europe. But the pods fly straight to the heart of the debate on rising concerns about the contribution of aircraft emissions to climate change. The implications of food miles for farmers in the developing world are also addressed in Points of view where the views of growers of fresh fruit and horticultural produce for export express their opinions about their industry's contribution towards carbon emissions?

Window box in Havana. Urban gardening is popular for recreational and aesthetic reasons, but for millions of city dwellers it is also a vital source of food and income (WRENmedia)
Window box in Havana. Urban gardening is popular for recreational and aesthetic reasons, but for millions of city dwellers it is also a vital source of food and income
WRENmedia

As urban centres, another prime source of carbon emissions, are burgeoning with the growing population of rural migrants looking for opportunities in the city, the question being asked by many, including the authors of State of the World, is: what is the future of the urban world? For the first time in history, more people are now living in urban rather than rural areas. In this issue, we Focus On the enterprises in urban and prei-urban horticulture from cities around the world, using the limited space available to grow a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.

In Pictures, the small-scale farmers who support Cuba's world renowned cigar industry, continue to grow tobacco despite the low prices they receive. And in Developments, we ask whether the future of small-scale farming is at risk. Is the vanishing small-scale farming community in Argentina the result of a greater trend for biotech (GM) crops, or a trend in agriculture globally? Commercialising biotech crops - the global picture examines the annual report of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, which reveals that GM crops are increasing, especially in developing countries.

This month's lead book, features the biography of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the 'Father' of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug. An interesting insight into the agricultural revolution, The man who fed the world by Leon Hesser advocates technology that, according to the US President George W. Bush, has "prevented mass starvation and death in South Asia and the Middle East." But the future of biotechnology and the likely implications for agriculture are not welcomed everywhere. Krishan Bir Chaudhary, who presents this month's Perspective, argues that genetic modification in India is "bad science, unethical and totally against the natural order that is responsible for the evolution and sustainability of life." So does he see any benefits?

We hope you find much to interest you in this edition of New Agriculturist. For comments or to submit ideas, please email us through the links provided on the contact page.

Date published: March 2007

 

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