Displaying items by tag: Food Security
Read this story from NanaimoBulletin.com on the longstanding dispute over an urban farm in Lantzville, in which a compromise has been reached. The saga has put issues surrounding urban agriculture into focus on Vancouver Island these past several years. (April 8, 2013)
Lantzville’s mayor hopes a settlement reached recently in a longstanding dispute over the operation of a commercial farm on a residential property could help address the urban agriculture issue.
The District of Lantzville announced last week the dispute between the owners of Compassion Farm and adjoining property owners, which began in the fall of 2010 after a neighbour filed a complaint with the district over manure odours, has been resolved after a nine-month mediation process.
A letter signed by Compassion Farm owners Dirk Becker and Nicole Shaw and adjoining property owners states that while the farm operation is not permitted by the residential zoning bylaw, the district does not intend to take any enforcement action against the contravention as long as Becker and Shaw comply with several conditions. Conditions include limits on the area under cultivation, on-site sales and the amount of materials that can be imported each year; a requirement that the materials be fully composted; providing access to the property for tests to ensure farming activities are not having an adverse effect on well water quality; and moving the rain barrel sale business indoors.
Mayor Jack de Jong said the heart of the issue was concerns from neighbours about importation of raw manure and water quality.
De Jong hopes the settlement, which cost the district about $25,000, can be used as a template for amending the home business bylaw.
“Using that as a foundation, I think we can work and make something that will be supported by the community,” said de Jong. “There seems to be some consensus that we should incorporate urban agriculture in the home business bylaw.”
Becker said he and Shaw signed the agreement because they needed closure.
“It’s been a two and a half year battle and Nicole and I are very, very tired of fighting,” he said, adding that the agreement does not address the issue of changing urban farming from being illegal to a supported, encouraged and protected activity.
Read more: http://www.nanaimobulletin.com/news/201540011.html
Read this story from The Alaska Highway News on one of the farming families in the path of the proposed Site C Dam on the Peace River, named by the annual Outdoor Recreation Council as this year's "most endangered river". (April 9, 2013)
The Peace River is the most endangered river in B.C. and Site C’s potential approval in the next year or so is mainly to blame, according to the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C (ORC).
The group solicits reviews and nominations for B.C.’s most endangered rivers from 100,000 members across B.C. The news release declaring the Peace this year’s dubious winner sites widespread opposition, including unanimous First Nations disapproval, and an $8 billion total cost with no domestic need for the power the dam would generate.
“The reason the Peace is on the list is threefold,” said the organizations chair of rivers, Mark Angelo.
“One, the dam is going to have extensive impacts, there’s no question about that. It’s going to impact wintering animal habitats, sacred cultural sites, recreational values, class one agricultural land.
“Secondly, we got so much feedback – nominations on the Peace literally dominated the feedback this year. Clearly it’s evident there is a lot of opposition by those closest to the river who would be the most affected. Aboriginal communities are very much set against the project. That was clearly evident in the responses we got.
“Thirdly if you look at the most recent BC Hydro energy forecast, we are in a surplus position in this province. BC Hydro is predicting a surplus of at least several years, if not more. The need for the dam for domestic power has vanished. So I think if you look at the BC Hydro energy forecast, the impacts of the dam, the rampant opposition and the fact that we received a huge number of responses from your region, clearly the Peace deserves to be in the number one position.”
However, Dave Conway, a spokesperson for BC Hydro, said that the demand for electricity will go up over the next few decades.
“Site C is required to help meet the future electricity needs of the province,” he said.
“BC Hydro’s current forecast shows electricity demand increasing by approximately 40 per cent in the next 20 years, driven by a projected population increase of more than one million residents and economic expansion. Subject to approvals, Site C would be a source of clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity for more than 100 years.”
Angelo said the need for the energy that was given years ago as justification for the project has disappeared.
“Several years ago we were being told we clearly needed Site C for domestic power. If you look at BC Hydro’s forecast, just in 2013 we’re talking about 5,200 kilowatt hours of surplus. If you look at 2015 you’re talking about a surplus 5,500 kilowatt hours. We’re in a surplus for quite a while to come so there’s clearly no need for the Site C dam. If you look at how people justified the dam several years ago, those needs simply are not there.”
BC Hydro’s argument that the power is required for future liquid natural gas projects is unfounded, Angelo added.
“LNG is still very uncertain,” he said. “A lot of (the interest) is based on current premiums and there’s pressure from a lot of the Asian markets to lower premiums substantially. So there may not be as much value in LNG in five years as there is currently.”
Andrea Morison, spokesperson for the Peace Valley Environment Association, agreed. She said BC Hydro customers and taxpayer should not be on the hook just for over $8 billion to subsidize the LNG industry – let alone, Morison added, the fact that dam projects often go significantly over budget.
“Christy Clark – about a year ago – said it would take 100 per cent of Site C to power just one proposed LNG plant and just a couple weeks ago she stated point blank she’s in favour of Site C because we need it for LNG,” Morison said.
“That tells you right there we need it to support the LNG industry, but there’s no statement going along with that saying the industry is going to pay for the dam. It’s a Crown corporation, so the ratepayers are going to pay for it.”
She added the ranking by the ORC shows people in the province really care about the issue.
The period for submission of written commentary on the project closed April 4. A joint review panel of three people is expected to be appointed this summer by the federal and provincial governments.
Ken Boon, who lives on property in the valley that would be lost to the proposed flood area of the reservoir created by the dam, said he has made submissions to the ORC in previous years as well as this year.
“The kinds of things we talk about are the vast cost of it, the burden it would be to the ratepayers of B.C. and basically the environmental train wreck it would be,” Boon said.
Read more: http://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/article/20130409/FORTSTJOHN0101/130409935/-1/fortstjohn/in-the-danger-zone
Yesterday, I joined several thousand British Columbians in submitting my comments to the environmental assessment process for the proposed Site C Dam in northeast BC. While it will likely take a few days for the most recent submissions to be registered on the government website for the process, judging by early indications, this was one of the largest-ever responses by the BC public to an environmental assessment - a clear sign of how much this issue matters to British Columbians. The Sierra Club and civic engagement driver LeadNow teamed up to facilitate online submissions and are reporting over 3,400 comments filed by yesterday's deadline...Herewith my own letter to the Review Panel.
Premier Christy Clark wants BC citizens to subsidize the oil and gas industry with a $10 Billion taxpayer-funded dam. Though she won't put it quite like that, that's precisely the implication of her recent comments to Global TV: "You can't power up these huge [LNG] facilities without more power, so BC Hydro's going to have to build Site C - we're in favour of making that happen." But, as the deadline for submitting public comments to the environmental assessment for Site Dam approaches, do British Columbians really want to foot the bill for the dam and flood 20,000 acres of quality farmland and wildlife habitat - all to subsidize the oil and gas industry with cheap power?
The seemingly straightforward question, “What are we having for dinner?” may get trickier to answer, due to a revolution in science. Many people call it "frankenfood" when the answer to the dinner question could be, "Salmon with a dash of eel genes"! This genetic manipulation isn't some pie-in-the-sky notion. In December, the US Food and Drug Administration moved one step closer to approving Massachusetts-based AquaBounty's application to sell genetically modified (GM) salmon. Now the agency is accepting public comments until February 25, after which it will render its pivotal decision of whether or not to approve the production and sale of this GM fish.
Read this extensive story from the Georgia Straight on the growing threat to farmland and wildlife habitat from massive port, rail and road expansion - under development and planned - in Delta. (Jan. 17, 2012)
From the crest of this obscure bridge over Deltaport Way, the enormity of what’s about to happen here seems impossible to exaggerate. To Harold Steves, 76, one of the founders of the province’s 1973 Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) system, calamity looms. “That’s gone. That’s gone. That’s gone,” he tells me, gesturing first at a colour-coded map, then at the real South Delta farmland around us.
On this stormy late-October day, nothing is gone. Yet. Turbaned men harvest pumpkins on a nearby farm. Thousands of migratory snow geese occupy plowed and puddled fields. But the pumpkins and the fields and the geese are about to disappear as work begins on one of the largest construction projects in Canadian history.
And to the southeast, the ALR lands in that direction will also disappear if the Tsawwassen First Nation’s (TFN) deal with Ivanhoé Cambridge Inc. and Vancouver’s Property Development Group comes to fruition. For over there, the second-largest shopping complex in Canada is about to be built. Exceeded in size only by West Edmonton Mall, the TFN’s gargantuan, Coast Salish–themed Tsawwassen Mills/Tsawwassen Commons megamall will feature hundreds of stores and hectares of parking space. Goodbye, farmland; hello, Toys “R” Us.
But that is, to Steves’s mind, the least of it. For directly below and to the west of Delta’s 41B Street overpass is the real story: the proposed $10-billion Terminal 2 expansion at the Roberts Bank Superport, which now consists of two terminals, the Westshore coal facility and the Deltaport container operation.
With little opportunity to increase industrial capacity along the prohibitively expensive Burrard Inlet waterfront, Port Metro Vancouver—which is the name of both Canada’s largest and busiest port and a federally established corporation—is set to quadruple its container import-export capacity at Deltaport in the coming years. After all, China beckons. Politicians genuflect before the god of perpetual economic growth. Unions see jobs. Developers see real-estate possibilities. Tsawwassen Natives see dollar signs. Profits—despite sanctimonious statements otherwise—trump environmental policy. Farms are expendable; ditto snow geese.
In fact, for the prime agricultural land below the bridge where Steves stands, a 135-hectare industrial park is slated. Below, too, will be six to eight new sets of train tracks to serve the enlarged port. And the mysterious series of bridges now under construction over Highway 99 and Highway 17 just south of the Massey Tunnel is part of the new 40-kilometre-long South Fraser Perimeter truck route, built specifically to service the new terminal.
All told, more than 400 hectares of Class 1 agricultural land in Delta will be lost to port expansion. Another 100 hectares will succumb to residential units slated to be built on TFN land adjacent to the megamall. “That’s the best soil in Canada,” says Steves, incensed by the shortsightedness of corporate capitalism. “You’re looking at the Richmondization of Delta.”
Steves says that when he protested in 2011 to Robin Silvester, president of Port Metro Vancouver, that Terminal 2 would harm the province’s agricultural future, Silvester told him: “You don’t have to worry about food security for B.C. Give us the land in Delta and we’ll use it to import food.”
Here, then, is the crux of the impending conflict, both for Delta and for the planet. Two contradictory views of the future are about to collide. Worldwide, deltas of great rivers like the Nile, the Mekong, the Fraser—in all, the source of much of Earth’s food—are under assault as inexpensive agricultural land succumbs to industrialization, suburban sprawl, and relentlessly rising ocean levels.
What happens in Delta will, for better or worse, provide a preview of how the 21st century will unfold. Will it be increasingly globalized, processed-food production and distribution or more locally grown food? Will it be sprawl, malls, and highways or urban densification, neighbourhood shopping, and public transit? Will it be estuaries for port and industrial development or estuaries for agriculture, migratory birds, and fish habitat?
Read more: http://www.straight.com/news/343311/delta-expansion-projects-threaten-farms-and-wildlife
Read this story from commondreams.org on corporate food behemoths Monsanto and Cargill's plans for a large-scale, GMO soy-based aquaculture industry. (July 2, 2012)
Agribusiness behemoths including Monsanto and Cargill are set to cash in big from industrial fish farming or “aquaculture” as the soy industry spreads its reign to the seas, a new report from environmental and consumer watchdogs shows.
The new report, “Factory-Fed Fish: How the Soy Industry is Expanding Into the Sea” from Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe, shows how the use of soy as feed in aquaculture -- branded as "sustainable" -- is an environmental disaster, harming fish both wild and farmed as it pollutes the oceans and brings unknown effects to consumers eating the soy-fed fish.
“Our seas are not Roundup ready,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, referring to the 93 to 94 percent of soybeans produced in the United States that are genetically modified by Monsanto to tolerate the application of its Roundup herbicide.
The growing of Monsanto's soy has led to an increase in the use of herbicides, the report states, and its planting on large scales has led to massive deforestation, which exacerbates climate change and displaces indigenous communities.
“Soy is being promoted as a better alternative to feed made from wild fish, but this model will not help the environment, and it will transfer massive industrial farming models into our oceans and further exacerbate the havoc wreaked by the soy industry on land—including massive amounts of dangerous herbicide use and massive deforestation,” stated Hauter.
Once grown, the soy feed continues its adverse effects. Not being the natural food for fish, the farmed fish excrete more waste, which pollutes the open waters. In addition, some of these soy-fed fish will escape and breed with wild fish, affecting natural populations. Excess feed will escape as well, causing unknown damage to wild populations.
Despite these risks, soy has been touted as a more ecologically-sound alternative to feed in aquaculture, notably by the American Soy Association.
According to the report, "the rising use of soy in fish farming industries will mean that notorious agribusinesses like Monsanto, which has sponsored feed trials with genetically modified soy and salmon, and Cargill, which has an aquaculture feed division, will play a hand in seafood production." The report notes that half of the seafood consumed globally is through aquaculture, creating a potential gold mine in profits for these companies.
Read original post: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/07/02-2
Read this story from CBC.ca on the new diet and movement building around the bestselling book Wheat Belly and growing concerns about the health impacts of wheat. (Oct. 8, 2012)
An increasing number of books, blogs and celebrities have fingered wheat as the cause of a variety of conditions, from obesity to heart disease, as well as a host of digestive problems.
One of the most talked-about health books right now is Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health, a New York Times bestseller by U.S. cardiologist Dr. William Davis.
Earlier this year, reality-TV star Kim Kardashian made headlines when she announced that she had cut wheat from her diet.
"I think people are willing to do anything to alleviate their digestive concerns and try anything to resolve their weight issues," says Susan Watson, a registered dietitian in Winnipeg, about the growing anti-wheat movement.
"From a general health standpoint, unless you're celiac or have a diagnosed wheat intolerance, cutting any food group or any food product completely out of your diet is not generally recommended," says Watson.
The antipathy to wheat is partly attributable to a growing awareness of celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that affects approximately one in every 133 people in Canada. Celiac disease occurs when the small intestine is unable to properly digest gluten, a protein that appears in wheat as well as other grains such as barley, rye and spelt.
For celiacs, eating gluten-rich foods can make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, which can lead to everything from anemia to osteoporosis.
There is also another subset of people who suffer "non-celiac gluten sensitivity," which can include an allergy to wheat.
Although celiacs and the wheat allergic may experience similar symptoms, such as cramps and diarrhea, "a wheat allergy does not damage the intestine, whereas celiac disease does," explains Novella Lui, a Toronto-based dietitian.
In any event, doctors and naturopaths generally counsel celiacs and those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity to go gluten-free.
As a result, gluten-free guides have sprung up all over the place, including such high-profile titles as The G-Free Diet by Elisabeth Hasselbeck, co-host of the popular U.S. daytime talk show The View and a celiac herself.
But the current anti-wheat trend isn't simply a response to celiac disease. In fact, it is increasingly being pitched as a healthy choice for everyone, which is what Davis argues in Wheat Belly.
Raises Blood Sugar
Davis says he discovered the harmful effects of wheat several years ago, "when I made myself diabetic by accident."
Despite being on a low-fat, vegetarian diet and jogging up to eight kilometres a day, Davis found that his blood sugar was inexplicably spiking.
It didn't become clear to him what was going on until he began doing research into how to prevent heart disease. Then he learned that it was impossible to control the risks of heart disease – such as coronary atherosclerosis – if the patient was diabetic or pre-diabetic.
And one of the things that raises blood sugar is wheat, which is the basis of everything from bread to pasta to pastries.
"The glycemic index of wheat is very high, and wheat products dominate the diets of most Canadians and Americans," Davis said during a phone interview from his office in Milwaukee, Wis.
Not only does wheat raise blood sugar, but Davis says that in the digestion process, one of the proteins contained in wheat — gliadin — becomes "degraded to a morphine-like compound" that creates an appetite for even more wheat.
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/10/05/f-anti-wheat-diet.html
The tainted meat scandal that continues to dominate Canadian news headlines has provoked harsh criticism of XL Foods - the company at the centre of the nation's largest ever meat recall - regulator the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Federal Conservative Government. Yet, as humourist and political commentator Rick Mercer astutely underscores in a recent video rant (watch here), the most important question the crisis raises relates to the whether it is safe for up to 40% of the country's beef to be processed by a single plant. The XL scandal is but the latest and most dramatic wake-up call for Canadians as to the direction successive federal and provincial governments have pushed the Canadian food system - legislating smaller, locally run farms and processors out of business in favour of monolithic, centralized corporate food producers.
Check out this in-depth report from CBC on the history of manipulation of Canada's Food Guide and nutritional recommendations for the public by power food lobbies. (July 30 ,2012)
The 1992 food guide marked "a new era in nutrition guidance in Canada," according to Carmen Connolly, then the chief of the Nutrition Programs Unit at Health Canada.
The title changed to Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating and the design changed to a rainbow graphic to display the four food groups. The major change was a shift in philosophy to a "total diet approach" for meeting both energy and nutrient requirements, replacing the minimum requirements approach of earlier guides.
When the draft guide was sent out to food industry groups for comment, they didn't like what they saw.
The draft guide had a small, fifth food group in a corner, called "extras," with this description:
There is no recommended number of servings for these foods since they have little nutritional value. They provide taste appeal but are often high in fat and calories. The less you eat of these foods, the better.
The Grocery Products Manufacturing Council found it disturbing "that 'extras' continue to be presented negatively and inappropriately, creating a good/bad food scenario."
In the final version of the guide, "extras" was gone and that corner of the rainbow was white. Replacing it was a box on the second page of the two-page guide called "Other foods," with this description:
Taste and enjoyment can also come from other foods and beverages that are not part of the other four food groups. Some of these foods are higher in fat or calories so use these foods in moderation.
Check out full report - including audio clip: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/07/27/f-food-guide-70.html