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Agriculture

Feds’ plan for neonicotinoids makes little sense, environment groups say

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OTTAWA — Environment groups are calling out Canada’s approach to assessing pesticides after seven years of reviews led Health Canada to simultaneously decide to allow certain popular products to keep being used with restrictions, and to propose banning the same products from outdoor uses altogether.

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency on Thursday released its final decision on what limits should be placed on a category of nicotine-based pesticides known as neonicotinoids to keep them from killing bees. Starting in two years, the pesticides won’t be allowed to be sprayed at all on certain crops like apples and tree nuts and there will be limited times when they can be sprayed on many others, like tomatoes, eggplants and berries.

Products that have no alternatives are given an extra year before they are affected by the decision.

The agency said the risks the products pose to bees in other applications, such as pre-treating seeds, are acceptable and only require new labels to warn of the dangers. Most of Canada’s canola and corn crop seeds are pre-treated with neonicotinoids, along with about half the country’s soybean seeds.

However, this decision, which won’t begin to take effect until 2021, will likely be overridden in less than a year when the agency finalizes a separate assessment of the exact same products for their impact on aquatic insects. The agency found in 2016 that the most popular of the neonicotinoids was building up in ground and surface water and recommended banning it outright. It also launched a special assessment of the other two most common “neonics,” concluding in 2018 that they also needed to be banned.

The very final decision on that won’t come until January 2020.

“Right now this is strictly about the risk to pollinators and for this assessment not all uses pose an unacceptable risk to pollinators,” said Scott Kirby, the director general of the environmental-assessment division of the pest management agency.

Lisa Gue, a senior researcher at the David Suzuki Foundation, said it is “disturbing” that the agency is continuing to allow neonicotinoids at all given that the agency’s scientists have concluded they cause unacceptable harm to any kinds of insects.

“The decision-making process here is just incomprehensible and incoherent,” she said.

Beatrice Olivastri, the executive director of Friends of the Earth Canada, said the agency’s fragmented approach to reviewing the products is “nonsensical.”

Neonicotinoids are used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike to manage pests like aphids and spider mites. Scientists blame the chemicals for weakening bees, making them more susceptible to disease and bad weather.

More than one-third of the world’s food crops require pollinators, like bees, for production.

The European Union banned neonicotinoids at the end of last year after scientists concluded there was no safe way to use them without hurting bees. In 2017, a task force at the International Union for Conservation of Nature updated a compilation of more than 1,100 peer-reviewed research studies of neonicotinoids and concluded there was no doubt they harm bees.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Ag Business

With the world’s population soaring to 10 billion people, Robert Saik explores how farmers “might” be able to feed everyone

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Earth’s population will be close to 10 billion people by 2050.  So consider this line from Robert Saik’s “FOOD 5.0″…

“In order to feed the world, we have to grow 10,000 years’ worth of food in the next 30 years, which means farmers worldwide must increase their food production by 60 to 70%.”

If that doesn’t wake you up… probably nothing can.  How will farmers do it?  Even with today’s technology this it going to take an overwhelming international effort to avoid a mass-starvation.

His first book, “The Agriculture Manifesto – Ten Key Drivers That Will Shape Agriculture in the Next Decade” was a 2014 Best of Amazon Books and this TEDx Talk “Will Agriculture be Allowed to Feed 9 Billion People?” has been viewed over 150,000 times.

In a time where more and more people (in the first world) are demanding to know where their food is coming from and how food is being produced, “FOOD 5.0 How We Feed The Future” should be required reading.

Robert Saik in the Author Hour Podcast:

“Food 5.0, How We Feed the Future was written for an urban audience, more so than a farming audience. My mental image of who I wrote the book for was a 33-year-old mom in a city with some kids who is working and raising her kids.”

“We live in a time now where all the technologies are smashing together–they are converging on the farm to reshape the farm in ways that urban people just simply do not understand. It is happening at a breakneck pace and farms are far more sophisticated, far more advanced than people realize.”

” you’re going to realize and learn a lot about food production and a lot about marketing.”

In FOOD 5.0 How We Feed The Future, Robert Saik examines “how technology convergence is reshaping the farm and the consumer”.

Robert has been hailed as an agriculture futurist with unparalleled insight into where the industry is headed.  He’s worked with a variety of agriculturalists from Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture to Bill Gates.

He is the CEO of DOT Farm Solutions, which supports farmers adopting autonomous robotics in broad acre agriculture.  He’s also the founder of AG Viser Pro, a platform that Uber-izes knowledge and wisdom, enabling farmers to instantaneously connect with agriculture experts worldwide.

Robert is a passionate keynote speaker and is executive producer of the Know Ideas Media a science based multi-media company addressing issues such as GMO’s and their use in food production.  (Know Ideas Media is a partner in Todayville.com/Agriculture)

He serves on several Boards, is an advisor to Olds College, is a member of the A100 (Alberta Tech Entrepreneur Network), a student of Strategic Coach and Singularity University and a member of Abundance 360.  As a partner in Perigro Venture Partners he participates in early stage technology investments.

He been recognized for agriculture leadership by the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (Provincial Distinguished Agrologist of the Year) and in 2016 was awarded Canadian Agri-Marketer of the Year by the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association.

Here’s a story produced by Todayville on Robert’s visit to Seattle to brief Bill Gates.

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Ag Business

Open Farm Days This Weekend all over Alberta!!

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alberta open farm days

From the Province of Alberta

New attractions brewing at Open Farm Days

Albertans are encouraged to mark Aug. 17-18 on their calendars to experience this year’s Alberta Open Farm Days lineup, including an exclusive craft beer.

This year Open Farm Days reached out to the breweries registered, and proposed they collaborate together to make a special OFD beer.  The breweries that have decided to participate include Troubled Monk Brewing, Apex Predator Brewing, Lakeland Brewing Company, Blindman Brewing, Township 24 Brewery, and Red Bison Brewery.

Alberta craft brewers

People can visit more than 150 host farms across the province for open houses, tours and an opportunity to buy locally grown and homemade products.

“Open Farm Days is a fantastic event that gives Albertans a chance to get to know neighbours and learn where our food comes from. It’s also a great way to buy local and support our rural economy and agriculture sector, with fun events for the whole family.”

Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism

Culinary farm-to-fork events that highlight local ingredients have been popular at Open Farm Days. This year, six Alberta breweries have developed a craft beer featuring four Alberta-grown products. The Open Farm Days cream ale showcases Alberta-grown wheat, oats, corn and haskap berries. The ale is available now at participating breweries and select restaurants.

“Alberta has some of the world’s best farmers, food producers and processors. Now is a great time to step up and show support for Alberta’s agriculture industry. I encourage Albertans to buy local food, meet a farmer in their community and get to know the people who put food on their tables.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Overall, there are 29 culinary events and 11 tours to enjoy this year. Other fan-favourite activities such as corn mazes, hayrides and mini golf are also making their return.

Admission to farms is free, but there may be costs for some activities and many are cash only. It is also recommended to bring a cooler to store produce and other products. Tickets for culinary events are available for purchase. Space is limited, so people are encouraged to buy tickets ahead of time.

Alberta Open Farms Days is a collaborative project presented by the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies, Travel Alberta and participating farms and ranches. Visit albertafarmdays.ca for more information, including details about tickets and where to buy the Open Farm Days cream ale.

Quick facts

  • Open Farm Days has directly contributed to nearly $650,000 in on-farm sales since 2013.
  • There have been nearly 82,000 visits over the history of Alberta Open Farm Days, with increasing attendance each year.
  • Since Open Farm Days launched in 2013, 484 Alberta farms have participated in the popular event.
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