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February 27, 2017

Dousing Flames with Low-Frequency Sound Waves

A new type of extinguisher that uses sound waves to put out fires has been built by two engineering students in the US. Both chemical- and water-free, the invention offers a relatively non-destructive method of fire control, which could find applications in fighting small fires in the home, and the researchers now hold a preliminary patent application for their device.

While the concept of using sound waves to extinguish flames is not new, previous attempts to realize the principle – including efforts by teams at West Georgia University and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – had not been successful.

Undeterred by this, as well as initial [...]

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April 7, 2015

Indian Farmers and Farmer Unions Launch Massive Agitation Against NDA’s Anti-Farmer Policies

New Delhi, March 18th 2015: Major farmer unions of India affiliated with the All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (AICCFM) have launched a massive agitation against NDA’s anti-farmer policies, and to seek a resolution to several burning issues pertaining to farm livelihoods, on March 18th 2015 through a Kisan Maha Panchayat in the heart of India’s capital. Thousands of farmers have resolved to stay put on Parliament Street in India's capital until the government engages them in a dialogue to resolve various burning issues. Anti-farmer measures through the Land Acquisition Ordinance, recent report of Shanta Kumar High Level Committee on restructuring FCI, the mindless [...]
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April 7, 2015

Food Sovereignty Activists Protest at Bill Gate’s Corporate Seed Conference

Today, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are convening a secret meeting to promote a recent report detailing in clear terms how to privatise the seed and agricultural markets of Africa. The meeting is being criticised for including corporations, development bodies, trade bodies and aid donors, yet excluding any African farmers or representatives of affected organisations.This morning in response food justice campaigners held a demonstration outside the offices of the BMGF in London, with placards calling on the foundation to ‘free the seeds’ and handing out packets of open-pollinated seeds as a symbol of [...]
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January 2, 2015

Agricultural Economy; Cuba Issues; and, Regulations

Agricultural Economy

Joel Aschbrenner reported on the front page of the Business Section in Friday’s Des Moines Register that, “Iowa farmland prices fell 8.9 percent in the past year, the largest annual decline in 28 years, according to a report released Thursday by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University.

“But the average price of $7,943 per acre is still more than double what it was a decade ago, and economists say they expect farmland values to level off.”

The article noted that, “‘Commodity prices and farm income are settling back to more expected levels, and I think land [...]

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January 2, 2015

Cuba Policy; Trade Issues; Biotech (Labeling); Ag Economy; and, Policy Issues

Cuba Policy

Karen DeYoung and Carol Morello reported on the front page of today’s Washington Post that, “In the wake of President Obama’s historic decision to mend diplomatic ties with Cuba, U.S. businesses and potential tourists scrambled to figure out what new opportunities will be available on the island and to position themselves at the head of the line.

“The political conversation sparked by Obama’s Wednesday announcement grew in both volume and dogmatism. Some hailed the opening as the dawn of pragmatic diplomacy. Others denounced it as a presidential sellout.”

The Post writers explained that, “In [...]

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January 2, 2015

Cuba Policy; China (Trade-Biotech); and, the Agricultural Economy

Cuba Policy

Geoff Dyer and Marc Frank reported yesterday at The Financial Times Online that, “The US is to open talks with Cuba about establishing full diplomatic relations and reopening an embassy in Havana, potentially bringing to an end more than five decades of hostility and one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.

“The dramatic move to thaw relations began with a prisoner swap on Wednesday, including three Cuban agents held in US jails and Alan Gross, an American development worker who has been in a Cuban prison for five years on spying charges. The US said an unnamed Cuban man who had provided ‘critical’ intelligence to the US had [...]

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January 2, 2015

Policy Issues; Drought; Trade; Immigration; Biotech; Ag Economy; and, Political Notes

Policy Issues

David Pierson reported in today’s Los Angeles Times that, “If your eggs seem a little pricier, consider the recent changes on Frank Hilliker’s ranch.

“In the last six months, the third-generation egg farmer in central San Diego County has reduced his flock by half and embarked on a $1-million overhaul of his henhouses to make them more spacious. Customers are now paying about 50% more for a dozen eggs from Hilliker’s family business at around $3 a carton.

“It’s all to comply with a landmark animal welfare law that takes effect in California on New Year’s Day. Voters overwhelmingly approved [...]

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January 2, 2015

Agricultural Economy; CFTC (MF Global); Policy; and, Budget Issues

Agricultural Economy

Reuters writers Polina Devitt and Maha El Dahan reported earlier this week that, “Russia’s grain exports have stopped due to curbs brought in to protect domestic supply, putting big deals at risk, an influential farm lobby group said on Wednesday.”

The article indicated that, “Moscow imposed informal grain export controls with tougher quality monitoring and limits on railroad loadings earlier this month, as it tackles a financial crisis linked to plunging oil and Western sanctions.

“‘Since last Thursday not a single vessel, which had been due to sail under contracts, has left,’ Arkady Zlochevsky, [...]

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January 2, 2015

Biotech; Policy Issues; and, the Agricultural Economy (Food Prices)

Biotech

Lucy Hornby reported yesterday at The Financial Times Online that, “In a speech a year ago, Xi Jinping backed China’s development of genetically modified crops as a means of strengthening food security. But even he hedged a little, warning: ‘Be bold in research, careful in promotion.’

“China’s pro-GM camp is now counting on the president’s support to unblock a bureaucratic stalemate that has stalled development of the crops by the world’s largest food consumer.

“After waves of state funding, researchers have developed a number of crops and are now just waiting for the green light to commercialise [...]

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January 2, 2015

Policy Issues; Cuba; Agricultural Economy; and, Regulations

Policy Issues

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday that, “Congress wants USDA to operate like a business, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is complaining that Congress is willing to spend $1.5 million on outside studies to duplicate work his department has already finished.

“Vilsack, in a phone interview with DTN on Thursday, expressed his frustration with some of the policy riders in the $1.1 trillion funding bill Congress approved. The policy restrictions ranged from blocking the secretary from creating a new beef checkoff to preventing the Farm Service Agency from eliminating its smallest offices [...]

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January 2, 2015

Biotech; Policy Issues; Ag Economy; Biofuels; and, Political Notes- Friday

Biotech

Andrew Pollack reported on the front page of the Business section in today’s New York Times that, “Its first attempt to develop genetically engineered grass ended disastrously for the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. The grass escaped into the wild from test plots in Oregon in 2003, dooming the chances that the government would approve the product for commercial use.

“Yet Scotts is once again developing genetically modified grass that would need less mowing, be a deeper green and be resistant to damage from the popular weedkiller Roundup. But this time the grass will not need federal approval before it can be field-tested and [...]

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