Digest: Bee plague, doomsday seed vault, cloned mice, fish controversy

Hoofbeats of the food apocalypse: A mysterious plague is killing off U.S. honeybees, threatening to disrupt pollination of a range of crops. Affected hives are often empty except for the queen and a few bees, with no sign as to what happened. Fact nugget: There are rent-a-bee services? Reuters

Norway to the rescue: Norway is building a “fail-safe vault designed to protect the agricultural heritage of humankind — the seeds essential to agriculture of every nation” — not far from the North Pole. The project aims to prevent needed plants from extinction or becoming rare due to nuclear war, gene pollution from genetically engineered plants, disease, or global warming. Hope it’s not too late. (Environmental News Service) (Via HybridVigor)

Yes, but will we have to eat them?: U.S. researchers have cloned healthy mice from adult skin stem cells for the first time. BBC

The gills stop here: Almost everybody agrees that European fish stocks are in serious trouble. But they’re up in arms about who’s to blame, and how to halt the slide that could condemn bluefin tuna, for example, to extinction in just 10 years. Associated Press

Enough with the bad news: A new report says break-up of Antarctic ice may expose marine life to more sunlight and alter the global food chain further. Science Daily

Sea change: Chile’s coastlines are jammed with salmon farms. The fish, which is not native to the country, has become its third-largest export. Annoyingly, the article takes as its starting point the idea that wild fish simply can’t supply worldwide demand, so we better get used to polluting fish farms. Just like how the oil shortage means new nuclear plants are a given… ABCNews.com

When a rose is not a rose is a rose: A serious look at why buying organically grown products should not stop with what you put in your stomach. It’s time to start asking your florist where your flowers come from, and seeking out Veriflora-certified and fair-trade labels. (AlterNet) The Associated Press has a related article on the incredibly unhealthy pesticide use by Colombian flower growers.

I’ll have the “lamb fries” and puttanesca: We’ve been ignoring most of the Valentine’s Day-related food stories, but this one on exotic aphrodisiacs around the world is not to be missed. It’s amazing what people will eat to get it up. Salon

Organic market growing in China: A slightly disorganized article about how Chinese people who can afford it are starting to buy organically grown produce, in order to avoid pesticides and contamination in their country’s food supply. And guess who’s selling a lot of it to them? Wal-Mart. Bloomberg

Wild birds need alibis: Speculating on who caused England’s bird-flu outbreak. New Scientist

Restitution: A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation last week to give 70,000+ black farmers, many of them in the South, a second try to claim relief under a 1999 civil-rights settlement with the USDA. Washington Dateline

Fie on foie: Animal-rights activists are allegedly threatening Brasserie Blanc in Birmingham to stop serving foie gras. The chef says he’ll look into the cruelty aspect, but he thinks they should go bother factory farmers instead. icBirmingham

Sow freedom: Smithfield is phasing out crates for pregnant sows in its hog barns, but it and other CAFO owners are not saying because the tiny prisons are harmful. They claim that the crates protect the hogs from one another — although pigs in pasture don’t attack their companions. News Observer (NC)

Meatpackers wanted: Swift & Co. found that all the PR over the Feds’ immigration raids ended up serving as good advertising that their plants were hiring. Des Moines Register

“Kangaroos walking all over the crops”?: More Australian chefs are starting kitchen gardens to supply their restaurants with fresh, seasonal, and/or unusual foods. Sydney Morning Herald

2 Responsesto “Digest: Bee plague, doomsday seed vault, cloned mice, fish controversy”

  1. The bee thing is worry-some. I kept bees for over 20 years but stopped when the mite problem got bad. I have been hoping to get started again, soon.

    Over on my Sugar Mountain Farm blog on the 2007 Winter Panorama post you asked about the PETA ads that appear on my pastured pork farm blog. Aye, isn’t it grand that PETA is paying good money to appear on my blog? At first I was offended but I checked with Google and they told me that they do not give free ads to PETA (remember Google’s motto: do no evil!). So when you clicked on a PETA ad that meant that it cost PETA money. Mega cool. I wish I could drain their bank account dry.

  2. Jack says:

    I am very perturbed about this Bee Plague. If it grows, well, devastation would be a mild word to describe the effect.