Readers, as posting is always lighter here during the summertime, I’m switching to a different news format as of today. From here on out, for the summer, you can expect more frequent news posts such as this one, instead of the long list that I’ve been providing on Mondays.
Here’s to a fabulous summer, everyone! I’m soon headed to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and looking forward to discovering another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A roundup of agricultural-related news from around the Web . . .
1) E-15 needs additional Ozone Exception Clause and Much More on the Current Disarray of Operating Under the Renewable Fuels Standard: Dr. Robert Wisner at Iowa State wrote about the ethanol blend wall and all of the absurdities involved when you get the government involved in how much of a certain fuel must be used. With E15, there’s an ozone rule exception problem. “Another challenge with E-15 that has not been widely publicized is policy changes needed so that this ethanol-gasoline blend can meet the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements of EPA. Those requirements are that E-15 Reid Vapor Pressure must not exceed 9.0 pounds per square inch in the May 1 to September 15 period. These standards are designed to limit emissions of volatile organic compounds that contribute to ozone formation. Warm seasons of the year increase the potential for these types of emissions. Legislation from Congress in 1990 has provided E-10 with a one-pound exception to this regulation. However, E-15 is not covered by that exception and is unable to meet the current regulation. Accordingly, the RVP requirement is a major restraint on the marketing of E-15.”
2) Insects for Food Security: Arnold van Huis et al. Although eating bugs for protein is nothing new, many were shocked this week to see the FAO come out with an official report titled, “Edible insects: future prospects for food and feed security”. While touting the sensibilities of humans ingesting this fine protein, the paper does discuss some previous culinary uses and recommended recipe books which use the morsels. Here is one example that I found interesting, “Native Americans, such as those who lived freely in what today is called the state of Utah, were very accustomed to eating grasshoppers, locusts and crickets. On their first tasting of shrimp, the Goshute Indians are reported to have named the creatures “sea crickets”. Recently in Australia, Christopher Carr and Edward Joshua of the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries proposed the renaming of locusts as “sky prawns”, a more acceptable description in Western countries, and compiled recipes in a cookbook, Cooking with Sky-prawns.” The FAO meat-alternative bug paper (PDF linked above) is more than 180 pages long. Venture capitalists are highly interested in food innovation these days. I’d say they have their work cut out for them.
3) FAO Predicts Strong Crop Production in 2013: The FAO anticipates that wheat production in 2013 will be up 5.4 percent from last year, and coarse grains will be up 9.3 percent over the previous high set in 2011. Rice is also expected to exceed last year’s production. This assumes a fairly normal weather year. Also, for the FAO, Dr Dominique van der Mensbrugghe spoke earlier this month about feeding 9 billion people with the following interesting comments. “Some estimates suggest that there exists some 1.4 billion hectares of prime land that could be brought into cultivation. Much would come at the expense of pastures, however, and would require considerable investment to make the land suitable for production and more accessible to markets. Globally, land under crops is projected to increase by some 70 million hectares by 2050. … Water is another critical resource, and irrigation has played a strong role in contributing to past yield increases. World area equipped for irrigation has doubled since the 1960s, but the potential for further expansion is limited. While water resources are globally abundant, they are extremely scarce in the Near East and North Africa, South Asia and in northern China, where they are most needed. Most of the world’s irrigated agriculture currently occurs in developing countries (almost half of this in China and India), where it accounts for some 60 per cent of cereal production. A net increase of 20 million hectares is expected by 2050; nevertheless, investment needs in irrigation to 2050 will need to be much higher to account for depreciation of existing infrastructure.”
Written and compiled by K. McDonald.