As a mother of two young boys, I have been following the coverage of the 'petting farm' E. coli outbreak with particular interest. As of 22 September, 74 cases of infection with E. coli O157 have been linked to Godstone Farm in Surrey.
Having visited two similar attractions this summer, I am now reflecting on my decision to take my 21-month-old as well as my five-year-old. While official guidance from the Department of Health is that contact with animals is fine as long as good hand hygiene is followed, Prof Hugh Pennington has expressed an opinion that under-fives should not touch the animals because of the risk that they might infect themselves (see BBC news).
Climate change is here and threatens us all; say Hollywood actors, film directors, environmentalists and politicians in a new UN public service announcement series, launched this week, urging viewers to sign the Climate Petition on the Seal the Deal!
Things are looking up for the future of the Amazon. A number of positive news stories have appeared in the last month including decreased deforestation rates, regeneration of previously deforested land, new land reform legislation and progress with action on cattle ranching. Here’s a summary – follow the links for more information and sources.
Minc’s estimates are based on a preliminary report by Brazil's National Institute of Space Studies (INPE) which showed a 46% reduction in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon for the year ended in July. Although Minc would have us believe that 90% of this reduction is due to increased enforcement effort, experts say falling commodity prices resulting from the global economic crisis was also a factor - deforestation has in the past increased when demand for soya beans, beef and timber have gone up.
The drastic rises in prices of food during 2007-2008 had severe consequences, but could such rises present an opportunity? Antonio Martuscelli believes “High food prices in the short-run are very damaging for low-income groups of the population in developing countries. At the same time, high prices are an incentive for producers and extremely important for generating an aggregate supply response and to re-establish a long-run equilibrium.” His work is published in CAB Reviews in the run-up to CABI’s Global Summit on “Food Security in a Climate of Change” in London, 19-21 October.
Martuscelli, of the University of Sussex says that it is vital that short- and long-term issues are balanced. “The problem of high prices of basic food commodities exposes governments and societies to a great challenge that can only be addressed by means of a comprehensive food policy for the coming years. The challenge is to address the adverse impact of high food prices in the short run without compromising the long-run equilibrium of agricultural markets.”
Martuscelli’s views are published in one of a series of papers in CAB Reviews (listed below) on the food crises published over the last few months. These reviews look at issues such as the extent to which diversion of resources to biofuel production could be a factor.
We first noticed the prickly visitor to our garden one evening. It appeared on our patio, but quickly dashed under cover of the plants once spotted. Much to the delight of my eldest son, Mrs (or Mr?) Tiggy-Winkle was on the patio again early morning at breakfast - shouldn't a hedgehog be asleep by now I thought?
A bit of CNN news on how Brazil's soap opera are linked to a dramatic drop in birth rates in Brazil, was brought to my attention by fellow
‘handpicked’ blogger Mark Palmer, as I’m the Brazilian blogger at CABI.
Although the CNN news is reporting a new study result on the subject, this is
actually quite old news. I remember attending a seminar in the late 1980s,
delivered by a Brazilian sociologist, on how the population census had greatly
over-estimated the population increase in various South American countries,
because the census hadn’t allowed for the effect soap operas would have on
influencing people’s behaviour with regard to birth control. Read on to find
out the results of recent research on the subject.
Almost half of the world's farmland has at least 10% tree cover, according to scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre, indicating that farmers, particularly in the developing world, are far less destructive to carbon-storing forests than previously believed. This is the first study to use detailed satellite imagery to quantify the extent to which trees are a vital part of agricultural production in all regions of the world.
Last night on BBC television in the UK was the first of three programmes of the BBC’s jungle expedition, natural history discovery programmes “Lost Land of the ….” in this Volcano. This time the series, was filmed in the forests of the remote tropical island of New Guinea, primarily exploring the area around the giant extinct volcano - Mount Bosavi. (Pictured Steve Backsall - copyright BBC).
The aims of this programme were to explore and catalogue the species of this seldom studied region, ultimately with the hope to have the forest designated as protected to save it from logging.