Tag Archives: Canada

Canada At Risk For Food Shortages If Climate Change Not Slowed: UN Report

Huffpost / Canadian Press – Aug 8, 2019

Changes need to happen to agricultural practices, human consumption habits and forestry management.

OTTAWA — Canada will not be spared the impact of food shortages and price shocks if global warming is not kept below 2 degrees Celsius, a new report on land use and climate change suggests.

NICOLASMCCOMBER VIA GETTY IMAGES

The report, released Thursday by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, delivers stark warnings about the need for drastic changes to agricultural practices, human consumption habits and forestry management to prevent an escalation in the climate-change-related floods and forest fires that could lead to a global famine.

The Paris climate change agreement is straining to keep global warming below 2 C and as close to 1.5 C as possible, and Thursday’s report is the third in 10 months to lay bare the consequences if it fails. It also comes a week after the planet experienced its hottest month ever in July, following the warmest April, May and June on record.

Food shocks and disruptions

At warming above 1.5 C, the report predicts periodic food shocks, significant and widespread melting of permafrost and an increase in the length of wildfire seasons.

Above 2 C, there will be sustained disruptions in food supplies all around the world, widespread increases in wildfire damage and detectable losses of soil and vegetation that can be attributed to climate change.

It is projected that for every degree of global warming, the world’s yield of wheat will fall six per cent, corn by 7.4 per cent, and rice and soybeans both by a little more than three per cent each. Together those four crops account for two-thirds of the calories consumed by people, and with the population growing by 80 million people each year on average, the world needs to produce more food, not less.

Werner Kurz, a senior research scientist at Natural Resources Canada and one of two Canadians among 108 scientists who co-authored the report, said he doesn’t think most people understand the magnitude and pace of climate change, but he also said he believes reports like Thursday’s must be used to deliver potential solutions, not just nightmares.

“As scientists we need to be careful in sort of communicating doomsday scenarios because if we create a fearful world, then inaction will be the consequence,” he said. “People will be paralyzed and fearful.

“What instead this report is trying to do — and I hope is successful in achieving — is to, yes, lay out the consequences of inaction, but also then highlight the many opportunities we have for action and the co-benefits this has for livelihoods, for water.”

Kurz said to slow global warming, people need to burn fewer fossil fuels and improve how land is used, so that it not only contributes fewer greenhouse emissions, but also absorbs more of them.

The report suggests agriculture, forestry and other land use activities contributed almost one-quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity between 2007 and 2016.

That includes changing human diets to be more plant-based and less meat-based, because plant-based proteins require less farmland.

Forests aren’t carbon sinks

It also means diversifying the kinds of trees being planted in forests rather than focusing entirely on coniferous trees, which burn differently than deciduous trees. Using more wood to build things like houses and buildings and replanting with more diverse species can help regenerate forests, which become bigger risks for fires when they are old, he said.

But Kurz, whose job for Natural Resources Canada is to track the contributions forests make to Canada’s emissions, said there is a vicious cycle in play where climate change has made more forests vulnerable to burning, but that burning is then contributing to more climate change.

Catherine Abreu, executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada, said the idea of diversifying forests is critical to improving their management.

“Canadians and Canadian governments tend to think of our forests as carbon sinks rather than sources of emissions, but we know that has been false now for a couple of years,” she said.

Kurz acknowledged that the changes needed likely won’t come easily for many people, but he said understanding the implications of not doing it should help.

“What we need to realize is that how we choose to live will have an impact on future climate.”

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Canadian Environmental Groups and Seafood Companies Concerned Over GM Salmon Introduction

CBAN – Lucy Sharratt – Dec 3, 2018

Monday, December 3, 2018. Halifax – Twenty-eight environmental groups and seafood companies are together expressing concern over the introduction of genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) salmon in Canada and calling on the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (ECC) to ensure precautionary and transparent regulation of GM fish.

“We need to set a stronger precedent for regulating such a potentially dangerous organism,” said Karen Wristen of Living Oceans Society in BC. “We cannot afford to make any mistakes with GM fish.”

A joint letter signed by 21 environmental groups and 7 seafood companies in Canada is calling on the Minister to ensure better regulation of GM fish and establish mandatory GM food labelling.

“Without mandatory labelling of GM salmon, we risk undermining consumer confidence in Canadian seafood,” said Franz Perrot, Quality Control Manager at seafood importer Lagoon Seafood.

The Minister could soon grant permission for the company AquaBounty to produce its GM Atlantic salmon at one or more on-land sites in Canada. A review appears to be underway for multiple locations, not identified for the public. The GM salmon is approved for eating in Canada and has been on the market unlabelled since the summer of 2017.

Read on…

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Pasta Spats: Canadian Wheat Exports to Italy Slump over Glyphosate

The world’s largest pasta maker says it has had to cutback Canadian imports of durum wheat – a key ingredient in pasta – because of ongoing consumer concerns about the use of a popular weed killer – glyphosate.

Barilla’s purchasing director Emilio Ferrari told grain groups in Toronto last week the company has cut back their Canadian wheat imports by 35 per cent, despite the fact Canadian durum wheat is of exceptional quality. No contracts for Canadian durum are being signed right now, he said.

The reason is that some Italian consumers are fearful Canadian wheat has been “poisoned” because it tested positive for traces of the popular and widely-used herbicide glyphosate, he said………..

…..However, glyphosate has come under intense public scrutiny in Europe, with Italy banning the use of the chemical as a pre-harvest treatment in 2016. “We never use it but they banned the usage, because we don’t need it,” Ferrari said. He told attendees at the Canadian Global Crops Symposium his company is currently unwilling to accept shipments with glyphosate tracings above 10 parts per billion.

Concerns about glyphosate will continue to be an issue, he said – urging Canadian producers to find an alternative. However, Canadian producers argue the current limits set by Italy are simply too low to meet because glyphosate is commonly used within acceptable limits and traces of the herbicide are found throughout this country’s bulk handling grain system. The majority of Canadian durum wheat is not treated with glyphosate pre-harvest.

Italy’s decision followed a review of the herbicide by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) in 2015 that listed the herbicide as a Group 2a carcinogen, meaning it probably causes cancer in people…….

….Canada and Italy have been embattled in a simmering trade dispute over durum wheat exports for several years, stemming from a “Made in Italy” country of origin label.

Under the policy, which was set to take effect in mid-February, processors are required to identify where their durum wheat was grown and milled into the semolina flour used to make pasta. Similarly, rice packaging must identify where the rice was grown, treated and processed.

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Organic Agriculture Is Going Mainstream, But Not the Way You Think It Is

Organic going mainstream

“Big Organics” is often derided by advocates of sustainable agriculture. The American food authors Michael Pollan and Julie Guthman, for example, argue that as organic agriculture has scaled up and gone mainstream it has lost its commitment to building an alternative system for providing food, instead “replicating what it set out to oppose.”

New research, however, suggests that the relationship between organic and conventional farming is more complex. The flow of influence is starting to reverse course.

Even with the upscaling, the market position of organic agriculture remains limited.

In Canada, organic sales grow by nearly 10 percent per year, and the total value of the organic market is around $5.4 billion. Yet the reality is that the industry is still dwarfed by conventional agriculture.

There are more than 4,000 certified organic farms in Canada, totalling 2.43 million acres. But this accounts for only 1.5 percent of the country’s total agricultural land.

Also, aside from the two organic heavyweights—coffee (imported) and mixed greens (mostly imported)—the market share of organic groceries is pretty small, at around three percent.

Yet the influence of organics is felt well beyond its own limited market.

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Documentary: Modified (2017) – (87 min) Why are GMO foods not labeled in North America?

‘Modified’ is a first-person feature documentary that questions why genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not labeled on food products in the United States and Canada, despite being labeled in 64 countries around the world. Shot over a span of ten years, the film follows the ongoing struggle to label GMOs, exposing the cozy relationship between the biotech industry and governments. The film is anchored in the intimate story of the filmmaker’s relationship to her mom, a prolific gardener, seed saver, and food activist who battled cancer while the film production was underway. Interweaving the personal and the political, the film uses family archives, animations, and mouth-watering vignettes from the filmmaker’s award-winning PBS cooking show to create a moving account of family legacy, grassroots activism, and the journey for a more sustainable and transparent food system.

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