Tuesday, 09 January 2018 00:00

ICYMI Monday | Year in Review, Vol. II: Around the World

In Case You Missed It Monday is USC Canada's weekly roundup - not that kind - of food, agriculture and policy news from here at home and around the world.

Welcome to ICYMI Monday, where we serve up a selection of the news that's fit to eat, with special attention to stories related to seeds, small-scale farmers, food sovereignty and agroecology. 

Last year had its ups and downs, but all in all it was a big year for food and agriculture. Take a look below at some of 2017's biggest stories from around the world.

"USC Canada" and sprout logo - "In Case You Missed It Monday" - Image of a hand in the foreground holding a few scattered seeds that are strikingly half black and half a very bright green. there are seeds filling the entire background behind the hand.

Stay tuned for volume III that will focus on last year's top stories from here in Canada. See volume I, 2017's top "Big Picture" stories, here.

Consequences of climate change

This year saw world hunger back on the rise after dropping steadily for decades. One of the major contributors to this trend? Climate change. While President Donald Trump made waves in 2017 by pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, climate change-related disasters left their marks on agriculture all over the world:

  • Ethiopia, where more than 80 per cent of people rely on agriculture as their main source of food and income, experienced its worst drought in decades. | Inter Press Service News Agency
  • In coastal countries like Bangladesh, sea level rise means farmers increasingly contend with salty soil, making it hard to grow rice. | Science Daily
  • Trickle-down effects of climate change: what melting glaciers mean for the future of growing food in the Andes. | Penn State News
  • 2017 was an incredibly active and deadly Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico's agriculture sector, wiping out about 80 per cent of the territory's crop value. | The New York Times
  • One of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world was one you probably didn't hear about: devastating floods left farmers in Nepal without crops and at risk of food insecurity. | USC Canada

Adapting to climate change

Gone unchecked, climate change will make entire regions uninhabitable, make farming in some areas unviable and, one estimate says, force the mass migration of one billion people by 2100. Still, communities are finding ways to adapt to the changes:

  • Mayans have farmed the same way for millennia. Climate change means they can't any longer – but they're adapting. | NPR
  • Corn that can stand up to hurricane-force winds is a tall order. But these farmers in Honduras are adapting to more frequent storms by breeding maize that can do just that. | USC Canada
  • Long periods of drought are making growing corn – the main ingredient in the essential tortilla – in parts of Nicaragua harder. Some farmers are turning to sorghum, an ancient grain that uses half the water corn does, as a tortilla alternative. | USC Canada

Farmers' rights restricted

New and pending seed laws saw farmers' rights reduced or potentially reduced in a number of countries:

  • A new law meant Tanzanian farmers became subject to heavy prison sentences if they continued their traditional seed exchange. | GRAIN
  • Malawi's potential new seed policy raised ire (and eyebrows) for threatening to outlaw farmers' saving and exchanging of seeds – and for being written, in part, by a Monsanto official. | Food Tank
  • More than two dozen state legislatures in the U.S. passed "seed-preemption laws" designed to block counties and cities from adopting their own rules on the use of seeds, including GMO-bans. | Mother Jones
  • South Africa began updating two key pieces of legislation (The Plant Improvement Act and the Plant Breeders Rights Act) that would hurt farmers' rights. | African Centre for Biodiversity

Stay tuned for volume III that will focus on last year's top stories from here in Canada. See volume I, 2017's top "Big Picture" stories, here.


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Read 523 times Last modified on Wednesday, 10 January 2018 17:02

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We’re called USC Canada because we started out way back in 1945 as the Unitarian Service Committee, founded by the energetic Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova. We’re still planting the seeds that Lotta sowed. Find out more about our founder, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova.

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