Environment Forum

Global area planted to biotech crops

(Reuters) – Genetically modified crops were planted on 134 million hectares (335 million acres) in 2009, up 7 percent from 2008, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

The following is a look at the global area planted to biotech crops since the world’s first crop, a biotech soybean, was introduced in 1996. table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;} Year Hectares
(million) Acres
(million) 1996 1.7 4.3 1997 11 27.5 1998 27.8 69.5 1999 39.9 98.6 2000 44.2 109.2 2001 52.6 130 2002 58.7 145 2003 67.7 167.2 2004 81 200 2005 90 222 2006 102 252 2007 114.3 282 2008 125 308.8 2009 134 335

Source: ISAAA
(Reporting by Carey Gillam)

U.N. climate process in emergency ward

copmapOld rifts between negotiators of rich and poor countries re-surfaced at UN climate talks last weekend, posing a question mark over the continued usefulness of meetings held at least twice a year, and which can be traced back to the signing of the UN Climate Convention on Climate Change in 1992.

Is it now time to end those talks, which are focused on delivering a global climate deal to succeed the present Kyoto Protocol after 2012?

It could be argued that their last big breakthrough was the signing of Kyoto in 1997. Possible alternative processes include more streamlined meetings of ministers and leaders, to agree emissions cuts and funds to help the poor face a warmer world.

Global plantings of biotech crops

(Reuters) – Led by U.S. producers, 14 million farmers in 25 countries planted genetically modified crops in 2009, increasing planted biotech cropland by 7 percent, even as biotech crop use declined in Europe, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a pro-biotech crop group.

Biotech soybeans made up more than three-quarters of global soybean plantings; biotech cotton was nearly half of global cotton, and biotech maize accounted for more than one-quarter of global maize land.

The following is a list of 15 countries that planted at least 100,000 hectares in 2009 to genetically modified corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops, according to ISAAA. Ten countries planted less than 100,000 hectares.

Clean energy conference shows efficiency means savings


-Eileen Claussen is President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The views expressed are her own.-

While policymakers in Washington debate the best path forward for dealing with climate change, a growing number of U.S. businesses have discovered a simple technique that can lower costs, increase productivity, and slash greenhouse gas emissions.  What’s more, it can work for any business no matter what they make – whether it’s potato chips or computer chips.

It’s called energy efficiency, and a growing number of U.S. businesses are starting to get it.

from The Great Debate:

States see pushback against carbon trading


-- John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own --

Efforts to implement cap-and-trade programs at state level are faltering, just as policymakers in Washington are struggling to generate enough support to put in place a comprehensive national system.

Recent setbacks in California and Arizona point to growing headwinds against the policy. As cap-and-trade loses momentum and becomes embroiled in bigger political disputes about the size and role of government, opponents are becoming emboldened to try to block the policy completely.

Carbon market supporters have repeatedly expressed the hope that state and regional initiatives can provide at least a temporary substitute as hopes for a national program have dimmed in the wake of last year's failed summit in Copenhagen and a string of election defeats that have thrown the progressive wing of the Democratic Party onto the defensive.

Video Q+A with solar entrepreneur Dave Llorens

Solar energy is not a new technology, yet the adoption rate in the United States continues to crawl along. Just one percent of homes have made the switch to solar power and the reason is primarily a lack of understanding of how it all works, says Dave Llorens, founder and CEO of One Block Off the Grid (1BOG), a California solar retrofit company that groups together neighbourhoods to cut costs for consumers.

“The problem is nobody has it, but you should,” Llorens recently told Reuters in San Francisco, adding that it is common for in-home Q&A sessions to go on for hours and hours. “Everybody is so hungry for information, it’s like nobody knows anything.”

We asked Llorens about federal and state subsidies, technological advances, and the challenges of taking on global climate change locally. Here are his answers:

The global rainbow invasion and a synthetic paradox

I’ve pursued and caught rainbow trout in many places, some of them unlikely. I caught hundreds in South Africa when I was based there. Here in the United States, I’ve had them hit my flies and brought them to my net in Texas and Oklahoma. I’ve done the same in the mountain states of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, states that, at least in the popular imagination, are more associated with trout and rainbow in particular.

I also managed to land one magnificent rainbow in Alaska during a reporting trip there in 2008.  Of the hundreds of rainbow trout that I have caught, that one stands out because it was the only one that was swimming where it belonged.


(Photo: Author Anders Halverson details the rainbow trout’s unnatural recent history. Photo credit:  Ginna J. Halverson)

Grass-fed beef packs a punch to environment


First it was slow. Then local, then organic. Now it is firmly grass-fed.

As a rare geophysicist studying diet’s environmental consequences, I am asked daily by my colleagues – a bit bemused by my new field yet quantitatively astute and environmentally concerned – about the latest claim made about impacts of food production on the physical environment.

In this role, I get to keep a sensitive finger on the envirofood pulse. Unambiguously, grass-fed beef is all the rage now. Even the New York Times Op-Ed page featured a recent piece extolling the virtues of grazing cattle.

Depending on your guiding environmental objectives, grass-fed beef may indeed be the greatest thing since Guns n’ Roses or the environmental equivalent of entrusting former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with military preparedness.

Burning tires is most definitely renewable


– Rich Trzupek is a chemist and principal consultant at Mostardi Platt Environmental. He also writes for bigjournalism.com and frontpagemag.com on science, the environment and politics. The views expressed here are his own. –

Thanks to federal and state incentive programs, renewable energy is more prized and more profitable than ever.

Wind and solar energy are the best known forms of renewable power, but they don’t wholly define this particular universe.

Tire incineration is not renewable energy


– Brian Schwartz and Cindy Parker are both physicians and faculty in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. They are also both Fellows of the Post Carbon Institute. The opinions expressed are solely their own. –

How do you solve a problem like David Miller?

According to the Chicago Tribune, he is the Illinois representative who last month, with little fanfare and notice at the time, attempted to modify legislation to include tire burning in the state’s definition of renewable energy.

The bill failed to pass initially but it isn’t dead yet – supporters may attempt to add it to another bill before the General Assembly adjourns.