Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Full Monty on Agricultural Economics and Trade.

General Format
......# Link

What you'll find here:
  1. GMO Pundit Posts cross links
  2. ABARE Economics
  3. Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.
  4. Truth About Trade
  5. Professor Kym Anderson, University of Adelaide.
  6. Agribusiness Freedom Foundation
  7. Agricultural Research Service, USDA
  8. Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy
  9. ERS USA
  10. Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) USDA
  11. USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
  12. GAIN Reports of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the USDA
  13. World Bank-Welfare Benefits Possible from Adoption of GM Cotton in Developing Countries
  14. OECD report on Trade Liberalisation
  15. David Pannell Home page UWA
  16. Shortage of Biotech Investment in Europe.
  17. Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) an Openmarket Blog.
  18. Rabobank Australia on meat trade prospects.
  19. Stock Feed Council of Australia
  20. AEI Let Them Eat Precaution
GMO Pundit
......# The End of Poverty and Crop Genetics.
......# The End of Poverty and Better Farming.
......# Sugar Cane Prices and Brazilian Ethanol.
......# Developing country Competitive Advantage is Improving.
......# Indian Technological Innovation.
......# Economic productivity and land resource management.
......# Commercial success of GM cotton in India.
......# Bans on GMOS and restrictions on Free Trade.
......# Greenhouse gas issues and End of Food Gluts.
......# ISAAA State of Play in 2005.
......# Biofuel gives support to maize / corn markets in US.
......# Canadian Canola could go all GM.
......# Agronomic study on Roundup Ready Canola.
......# Path to Rural Prosperity.
......# Innovation in Agriculture.
......# Cotton World Crown may go to India.
......# Billionth Acre of GM crops was sown.
......# BRS Report: GM under Development in Australia.
......# End of Poverty and Genetics.
......# Start Up Problems with New Crops.
......# Innovation in Agriculture and Climate Change
......# Broadscale Overview on Beneficial Technological Transitions.
......# Technology Immprovement in India Dec 2005
......# Cotton Successes in India.
......# Opportunities and Threats in Oilseeds Markets.
......# The Poverty Trap- Jeff Sachs
......# USA Ten years of steady increases in market share by GM varieties.
......# PG Economics- Best EU specialised consultancy?
......# Technology scaremongering hampering competitiveness.
......# Effects of technology fearmongering on trade competition.
......# Farming Utopia: The Green Vision for a new Agricultural Revolution.
......# New (May 2006) Economics report from ERS of the USDA.
......# BBC confirm WTO case went against the EU.
......# USA and Brazil negotiate ethanol related trade.
......# High net worth individuals getting excited about biofeul ventures.
......# US and India deal on biotechnology.
......# Agbiotech's potential to provide food feed fibre.
......# Flight of risk capital from Australia.
......# GM trader ADM very profitable.
......# Major Australian GM crop economics report commissioned May 2006.
......# Ethanol and biodiesel bolster US corn and soy markets.
......# Overview of transgenic cotton in India: Good News in May 2006.
......# Flight of investment capital away from the EU and Australia to the US.
......# GMO Pundit's Commodity Trade Stoush- Updated News Items.

ABARE Economics.
......# Economic growth and urbanisation driving changes in China’s agriculture
[ 6 March 2006 ]
China’s rapid economic growth is bringing about significant changes in food demand and is posing challenges for its agricultural industries, according to a new ABARE report released today.

The report, Agriculture in China: developments and significance for Australia, was released by Dr Brian Fisher, Executive Director of ABARE.

‘The increasing affluence of China’s urban consumers has meant that they are moving away from starchy staples toward more varied diets, including increased quantities of meat, dairy and seafood products,’ Dr Fisher explained.

Urban incomes in China are around three times as high as rural incomes. The strong growth in incomes in recent years and continued urbanisation are driving changes in food demand.

To date, China’s agriculture sector has been able to adjust its production mix to meet this changing demand for food. However, water constraints and land degradation in some regions are placing pressure on China’s agricultural production base and it is questionable whether China can continue to fully meet its domestic food requirements as tastes change.

The prospect for significant increases in meat production means that there is potential for China to become a large importer of feed grains and to increase its imports of oilseeds. China is also likely to become more dependent on wheat imports, particularly with constraints on agricultural land use.

China’s demand for dairy products and sugar is expected to increase more rapidly than production, and increased imports are likely, enhancing the prospects of increased Australian exports to China.

With continuing adjustment of China’s agriculture toward labor intensive farming activities, China is likely to become an important competitor on world markets for horticultural and processed agricultural products.

......# From: native vegetation management on broadacre farms abare eReport 06.3

In order to investigate whether environmental outcomes can be delivered at least cost, or whether the benefits can be maximised for a given cost, a better understanding of the costs associated with mandated native vegetation conservation is required.

The Productivity Commission inquiry into native vegetation and biodiversity regulations was a milestone in the investigation of the costs associated with native vegetation conservation. Their report concluded that the current regulatory approaches to native vegetation management were having a negative impact on some private landholders by imposing signifi cant costs
— preventing property development, preventing land use change to more profitable activities, preventing the introduction of cost saving innovations and restricting the clearing of regrowth vegetation and woodland thickening, resulting in reduced production.

In the largest study undertaken to date to investigate this issue in Australia, ABARE conducted a survey of 386 broadacre farmers in a 400 000 square kilometre region of New South Wales to quantify the impact of native vegetation on farm productivity and returns. Analysis of data collected as part of the survey found that farms with lower vegetation density generally have higher total factor productivity. However, the removal of vegetation below the level that generates private benefits to farmers is likely to have a negative impact on productivity.

The way in which vegetation was having an adverse impact on farm productivity varied across the study region and between farm enterprise types. In the rangelands, increased levels of vegetation were found to lower carrying capacity. On mixed livestock and cropping properties, regulations preventing the further development of land for either more intensive grazing or for cropping were also imposing costs in the form of forgone development opportunities.

On the farms with some cropping activities, isolated paddock trees were found to limit the efficiency of crop management. The presence of isolated trees is preventing the efficient use of cost saving GPS technologies in many instances. The impact of this is likely to increase over time as the trend toward larger farms continues. It should be emphasised that, while
the survey was conducted in New South Wales, the general fi ndings are relevant to other jurisdictions.

Ensuring that native vegetation management policies are economically effi cient and deliver environmental outcomes at least cost to the community requires an understanding of the cost that these policies are imposing on agricultural landholders. Native vegetation regulations can impose opportunity costs on the farm sector that take the form of lost annual income, which has consequential effects on land values because farmers are unable to clear and crop as they would wish.

In the ABARE study region, around 20 per cent of farmers reported that they would like to clear rangelands for crop development. This demand for additional cleared land reflects the ongoing pressure to shift enterprise mix out of wool production as well as the availability of new crop varieties and cropping practices. The opportunity cost of preventing this development in order to conserve native vegetation for environmental services was estimated to be as much as $1.1 billion across the study region in net present value terms.

When reported on a per hectare basis, the estimates reveal that the potential opportunity cost of conserving native vegetation varies widely across the region. In some regions — predominantly in the Central Division — the opportunity costs of conserving native vegetation were as high as $1445 per hectare. In other regions — particularly in the Western Division — the costs were as low as $129 per hectare.

The considerable variation in the cost of conserving native vegetation across the study region suggests that there may be scope to achieve the desired level of environmental outcomes at lower cost to the farm sector if more flexible policy instruments were adopted....
Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.

......# FAPRI Briefing Book 2006 and Data Tables MS-Excel format.

World Oilseed Prices
The world prices of soybeans and sunflowers weakened this year under the pressure of high supplies while the rapeseed price increased because of strong EU biodiesel demand. For 2006/07, another price decline for soybeans is expected despite the production adjustment. This correction leads to a price rebound for soybeans in 2007/08. In the long run, all oilseed prices are expected to remain within their established relationships.

World Wheat Feed, Food Use, and Per Capita Consumption
Per capita consumption of wheat continues its downward trend. Thus, the increase in world demand comes from population growth. Consumption grows 0.8% annually on average, reaching 671 mmt in 2015/16. Food use reaches 557.2 mmt in 2015/16, with the main source of the demand increase coming from Asian, Middle Eastern, and African countries. World feed use reaches 113.8 mmt in 2015/16.

World Coarse Grain Net Trade and U.S. Market Share
World coarse grain net trade is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 1.5%. Both barley net trade and corn net trade increase because of a demand increase coming mainly from African and Asian countries. The U.S. trade share was 52.4% in 2005/06 and it increases to 59.8% in 2015/16 as the U.S. captures most of this growing demand

Barley and Sorghum Net Trade and Prices
The world sorghum price increases in 2006/07 to $105 per mt as production decreases much more than consumption.
Thus, world net trade decreases slightly in 2006/07. With the increase in the world sorghum price over the next 10 years, world net trade does not reach its former levels. Lower production in 2005/06 decreased barley supply in world markets, increasing its price to $93.9 per mt. Despite higher production in 2006/07, lower stock levels decrease the world barley supply, increasing its price to $106.4 per mt. Net trade reaches 20.5 mmt in 201.

Truth About Trade
......# A Billion Reasons

by: Dean Kleckner, Chairman, Truth About Trade & Technology

When President Bush returned from his trip to India earlier this month, it seemed like he returned home with a billion new friends.

That’s an overstatement, of course: India is a big and diverse society whose members probably hold every viewpoint there is when it comes to the United States.

Yet there can be no denying that President Bush has strengthened the bonds between Washington and New Delhi. There are those who will urge Congress to scuttle the nuclear pact that our government has reached with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and congressional approval may in fact be difficult to achieve. But it is also true that relations between our two countries have perhaps never been warmer than they are right now.

And they ought to grow warmer still. As an English-speaking democracy, India shares much in common with the United States. We have a number of similar security interests, from a desire to contain Islamic radicalism to a need to keep an eye on the ambitions of China.

Economics also will keep our nations linked. Over the last quarter century, India’s economy has grown by nearly 6 percent each year--and it shows no signs of slowing down. According to some projections, India’s economy will be larger than Italy’s within a decade and it will be the world’s third-largest, after the United States and China, by 2040. As India grows wealthier, its demand for U.S. products will increase. Last year alone, U.S. exports to India actually jumped by 30 percent.

It would not surprise me if India eventually passed China on the road to economic prosperity. China, after all, remains an essentially closed society whose leaders permit a certain amount of economic freedom but almost no political freedom. When it comes to economic freedom, India still has a long way to go--New Delhi has by no means shrugged off its socialist past. Yet the Indian people themselves are fundamentally free, and freedom is a cornerstone of economic development.

American farmers stand to gain a great deal from this improving friendship. Last year, agricultural exports to the subcontinent were valued at less than $300 million--a figure that’s poised to rise given the country’s huge population.

The first step will require lowered barriers to trade. Although the average bound agricultural tariff for the United States is just 12 percent, India’s rate of 114 percent is far above the worldwide average of 62 percent. As a member of the WTO, India can be helpful in eliminating both tariff and non-tariff barriers placed on seeds, new chemicals and industrial products used in agriculture, benefiting both developed and developing countries...

Yet American and Indian farmers also share an interest in biotechnology. The United States is the global leader in GM crops; India is currently the world’s 7th leading biotech grower, with Bt cotton as its dominant crop. Last year, India’s Bt cotton acreage more than doubled, to 3.25 million acres. Resource poor farmers are choosing this technology because they understand and are experiencing its benefits.

There is still resistance to biotech crops in India--nothing on a European scale, but also more of a problem than it is in the western hemisphere. Yet I’m optimistic that Indian farmers will demand steady progress, especially for drought-resistant varieties of biotech crops. Only about one-third of India’s arable land has access to modern irrigation, which means that farmers are very dependent on rainfall. They will welcome biotech solutions to their common dry-weather problems.

The bottom line is that India and the United States have a bright future together as allies in trade and technology. And I can think of a billion reasons to be happy about that.
Professor Kym Anderson, University of Adelaide.
......# Prof. Kym Anderson's Home Page.
Ph.D.(Stanford), FASSA
School of Economics, The University of Adelaide.
(From May 2004, Prof Anderson will be on extended leave at the World Bank, Washington D.C)

...Three other recent research projects under his leadership are on the economics of biotechnology (particularly GMOs), on the economics of wine, and on quantifying the economic effects of trade reform in Indonesia, China, Indian Ocean rim countries and globally.
......# Transgenic Crops, EU Precaution, and Developing Countries
- Kym Anderson and Lee Ann Jackson (University of Adelaide and World Trade Organization) Int. J. Technology and Globalisation, Vol. 2, Nos. 1/2, pp.65–80. Excerpts below.

Agricultural biotechnologies have the potential to offer higher incomes for farmers in developing countries and lower-priced and better-quality food, feed and fibre. That potential is being heavily compromised, however, because of strict regulatory systems in the European Union and elsewhere governing transgenically modified (GM) crops. This paper examines why the EU has taken the extreme opposite policy position on GM food to equally affluent North America, what has been the impact on developing country welfare of the limited adoption of GM crop varieties so far, and what impact GM adoption by developing countries themselves could have on their economic welfare.

The pace of improving the productive efficiency and quality of the world’s food crops had been slow up until the 19th century. Then, following a century of wheat improvements, hybrid varieties dramatically increased average corn yields from the 1940s and dwarf varieties of high-yielding wheat and rice caused what became known as the Green Revolution in Asia and elsewhere from the 1960s .

Those technological developments of the past six decades contributed to an acceleration of the long-term decline in real international food prices to below 1930s’ levels by the late 1980s which in turn led to complacency about the need for further agricultural R&D. As a result, growth in public funding for such research fell substantially in both rich and poor countries – despite overwhelming evidence that this is a very high payoff investment area (Alston et al., 2000). In particular, the aid agencies and foundations reduced their support for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and for complementary national agricultural research systems in developing countries – which quickly led to fears that food crop productivity growth would slow .

The emergence in the 1990s of new agricultural biotechnologies, and in particular transgenic crop varieties, seemed to offer new hope that the private sector might fill this lacuna. But to those early hopes were added three other concerns. One was that a small number of huge biotech firms would capture most of the gains from the new agricultural biotechnology. A second was that those firms would not invest in poor countries where profits would be slim because of poor protection of intellectual property rights and small commercial seed markets.

And the third concern was that Europeans and others would reject the technology because of environmental and food safety concerns, thereby thwarting export market prospects for adopters of the transgenic crops. That third concern was vindicated by the European Union’s imposing in late 1998 of a de facto moratorium on the production and importation of food products that may contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It helped to constrain widespread adoption to just three GM food or feed crops (maize, soybean and canola) in three countries where production had already taken off by 1998, namely the USA, Argentina and Canada. Even when the other important GM crop is added (cotton), those three countries continue to dominate.

True, the EU replaced its moratorium in May 2004 with new regulatory arrangements, but they involve such onerous and laborious segregation, identity preservation and labelling requirements as to be almost as restrictive of exports of GM products as the moratorium was. With a number of other countries also imposing strict labelling regulations on GM foods, biotech firms are increasingly diverting their R&D investments away from food. At the same time, the public agricultural research system has remained shy about investing heavily in this technology – including the CGIAR which depends heavily on rich-country grants from EU member states.

  • why did this 'Gene Revolution' begin with maize, soybean and canola (along with cotton) rather than with the world’s most important food crops, namely wheat and rice?
  • why has the European Union (EU) taken an extreme opposite policy position on GMOs to equally affluent North America?
  • what has been the impact on developing country welfare of the limited adoption of GM varieties so far and of the EU’s reaction to that?
  • what impact could GM adoption by developing countries themselves have on their economic welfare, including if and when GM varieties of wheat and rice also are made available?
Each of these questions is addressed in turn, drawing on empirical data and some simulation results from a model of the global economy, before the paper concludes with some policy implications from the analysis. China and India are the most significant developing countries to consider, in the sense that they house the majority of the world poor, they comprise almost one-third of the world’s production and consumption of grain (and even more of cotton), and they (especially China) have the potential to rapidly apply and disseminate this new biotechnology. But Sub-Saharan Africa is also of crucial concern, given its extreme poverty and strong dependence still on agriculture for employment and export earnings and, in some cases, on food aid imports (which could be problematic if food provided as aid is not GM-free, as was the case for US shipments to Southern Africa in 2002)...

Conclusions and policy implications

From the viewpoint of developing countries, the above results are good news. The new agricultural biotechnologies promise much to the countries willing to adopt these new varieties. Moreover, the gains from farm-productivity enhancing GM varieties could be multiplied – perhaps many fold – if biofortified GM varieties such as golden rice were also to be embraced . The estimated gains to developing countries are only slightly lower if the EU’s policies continue to effectively restrict imports of affected crop products from adopting countries. More importantly, developing countries do not gain if they impose bans on GM crop imports even in the presence of policies restricting imports from GM-adopting countries: the consumer loss net of that protectionism boost to Asian and Sub-Saharan African farmers is far more than the small gain in terms of greater market access to the EU .

The stakes in this issue are thus very high, with welfare gains that could alleviate poverty directly and substantially in those countries willing and able to adopt this new biotechnology. Developing countries need to assess whether they share the food safety and environmental concerns of Europeans regarding GMOs. If not, their citizens in general, and their poor in particular, have much to gain from adopting GM crop varieties. Unlike for North America and Argentina, who are heavily dependent on exports of maize and oilseeds, the welfare gains from GM crop adoption by Asian and Sub-Saharan African countries would not be greatly jeopardised by rich countries banning imports of those crop products from the adopting countries. If the reason for China’s reluctance to approve GM food crop varieties for domestic production is because it wants to restrict approval to indigenously developed GM varieties so as to capture the intellectual property earnings domestically, then one can only hope – for the sake of their consumers and farmers – that such varieties will be ready soon (and that India and subsequent potential GM adopters will be willing to use Chinese or other GM varieties rather than cause further delays while their biotech researchers catch up).

Labelling policies potentially provide a more efficient mechanism than trade moratoria for accommodating consumers’ preferences for non-GM food. They would involve a cost to the global economy – and especially to developing country exporters – because of the necessary segregation and identity preservation systems, but their adoption in place of the current EU ban would provide both rich-country and poor-country consumers with greater choice than at present.

However, more economic modelling research is required to include the costs of segregating GM-inclusive from GM-free food products and to explore the incidence of the identity preservation cost between GM and non-GM farmers, between farmers as a group and others, and between rich and poor countries. As Baldwin (2001) argues, the more costly are the segregation and identity preservation systems necessary to meet rich-country labelling standards, the more they will disadvantage exports from poor countries relative to rich countries.
Agribusiness Freedom Foundation
AFF: Promoting free market principles throughout the agricultural food chain.
......# Sample Newsletter
Time Machine Economics
Colorado Springs, CO March 29, 2006

When H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine in 1895 he envisioned a device that allowed people to travel to the future. Today R-CALF, OCM and their Liberal Activist Group (LAG)* allies seem eager to buy a ticket for the return trip.

They decry trade with foreign countries apparently convinced that we will be overrun by the economic might of Central and South America. So, the solution I suppose is to ignore the realities of the 21st century, climb into a time machine and go back to 1607 before foreign investment made America. Keep the Dutch out of New York, the English out of Virginia, the Carolinas and New England, the French from financing and fleeting the American Revolution, and the Spanish out of Florida. Heck, once, most of the cattle in Wyoming belonged to English and Scottish investors.

In international trade and shipping, countries with big populations, smaller land masses and a yen to make money have been trading and investing worldwide for centuries. Think of the Dutch traders and investors or the British Empire. And America has been the place to invest for over 200 years.

“The larger truth is that the flow of foreign investment into the U.S. is a sign of economic strength, not weakness,” the Wall Street Journal said in a recent editorial (“The New Protectionists,” 3/10/06, OpinionJournal, “For 25 years, pro-growth economic policies including monetary stability, steep tax-rate reductions on capital and freer trade have created a giant in-sucking sound of some $4 trillion of global investment into America.” Between 1992 and 2005, the “U.S. created four times the number of new jobs than Europe and Japan combined.” Yet the LAG want to restrict growth through trade with foreign countries. They don’t mind exporting if it’s handy, but expect to keep out all imports and not suffer any retaliatory consequences.

The flip side of foreign investment and trade is, do we want a U.S. economy so weak or unpredictable that the rest of the world is afraid to invest here?

In a later story citing economists who believe the ports fiasco will dampen foreign investment, the Wall Street Journal noted that foreign investment in the U.S. in 2005 had jumped 20 percent, to $128 billion (“Foreign Investing in the U.S. May Slow,” 3/17/06, p. A2.). That brings the total to $1.53 trillion (Commerce Department-Gazette, 3/20/06, p. 5). Do we have the spare change to buy them all out?

The Journal noted a study by the Organization for International Investment: over 5 million Americans are employed by foreign-owned firms, averaging a wage of $63,000/year, 50 percent higher than the U.S. average. “Foreigners ... are investing in ways that add to [America’s wealth].”

Our Cold War victory proved international commerce could help protect us and defeat dictatorships. Coming from the other direction, as the Journal editorial said, “...the interdependence that comes with foreign investment also gives those investors a stake in both American success and security.”

In our own backyard, should we have given up the new products and competitive pressures on our American-owned countries from foreign-owned drug companies?

Get more basic. Where would our economy be today if we had decided in 1859, when the first oil well went in at Titusville, that our economy would only run as far and as fast as our domestic supply of oil would take us?

The Journal noted that, while we may have a trade deficit because of all the inflow of capital from around the world, it has contributed to our rising standard of living. From 1976 ‘til now, the U.S. net household wealth increased from $20 trillion to nearly $55 trillion. That rising standard of living is critical to increased demand for beef, especially the added value, branded and convenience items.

Investment, just like trade, is a two-way street. If we want to keep out foreign goods and foreign investment, we will have to prepare ourselves for a cataclysmic upheaval of divestiture, economic overhaul, massive depression and deprivation.

Or fire up the time machine.

* Liberal Activist Groups like Nader’s Public Citizen, Carol Tucker Foreman’s Consumer Federation of America and Consumer’s Union allied with R-CALF, the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and others.

The Agribusiness Freedom Foundation promotes free market principles throughout the agricultural food chain. The AFF believes it is possible to value the traditions and heritage of the past while embracing the future and the changes it brings. The AFF is a communications and educational initiative striving to preserve the freedom of the agricultural food chain to operate and innovate in order to continue the success of American agriculture.

The AFF - freedom watchdog for American agriculture.

Agricultural Research Service, USDA
......# Digital repository provides public access online to selected USDA publications
April 25, 2006
ARS News Service
The National Agricultural Library (NAL) has established an online digital repository providing convenient public access to the full text of selected U.S. Department of Agriculture publications.
NAL, the largest and most accessible agricultural library in the world, is part of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA's chief scientific research agency.
The NAL Digital Repository (NALDR) contains a wide variety of publications that have been digitized and made available online at:

While documents will continually be added to NALDR, currently available in the repository are:

The Rural Development Publication Digitizing Project, providing access to publications produced since the 1800s and chosen as being the most relevant titles on rural development. These include the entire series of Rural Development Research Reports, Rural Development Perspectives, Agricultural Economic Reports, and Agriculture Information Bulletins, as well as selected Economic Research Staff Reports and the first 300 volumes of Agriculture Handbooks.
The Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture series. Published from 1894 to 1992, the yearbooks contain statistical information, summaries of research developments, and comprehensive surveys of particular subjects important to agriculture, providing an important annual "snapshot" of U.S. agriculture. The yearbooks for 1894 to 1914 are currently available in the NALDR. The remaining volumes will be added in 2006.
For the user, the NALDR offers several features to facilitate searching and access, including fully searchable text, quick-loading files and a printing/downloading option for converting images to the commonly used Portable Document Format (PDF).
The NALDR focuses on print publications that have been digitized, and is the first component of what NAL plans as an integrated electronic repository for agricultural literature incorporating an array of electronic documents.

Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy
......# The Global Diffusion of Plant Biotechnology: International Adoption and Research in 2004
Executive Summary
Conclusions and Future Directions
  • Less than a decade after first commercialization, the international adoption and diffusion of biotech crops has now gone global, especially in developing countries. While much international press attention has focused on opposition to biotechnology, especially in Europe, there is increasing adoption and diffusion of biotech crops and expanded research in many parts of the world, including Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa.
  • We see continuing expansion of commercial and scientific possibilities for plant biotech in the next decade and beyond.
  • Worldwide biotech crop value reached $44 billion in 2003-2004 in the five countries accounting for about 98 percent of all biotech crop hectares and values (1 hectare = 2.47 acres). The leading five countries in global biotech crop value in 2003-2004 were the United States ($27.5 billion), Argentina ($8.9 billion), China ($3.9 billion), Canada ($2.0 billion) and Brazil ($1.6 billion). Four biotech crops - soybeans, cotton, maize (corn) and canola - accounted for virtually all of the biotech values and planted area.
  • Eight other countries have joined the leading five in meaningful levels of commercial biotech crop production: South Africa, Mexico, Australia, India, Romania, Spain, Philippines, and Uruguay.
  • Research and development (R&D) activity represented by field trials and laboratory/greenhouse experiments extends well beyond the five leading countries. Sixty three countries have been involved in some phase of biotech plant research and development, from laboratory/greenhouse experiments, to field trials, to regulatory approval and commercial production.
  • When biotech plant R&D is arrayed for field crops, vegetables, fruits and other crops (as in Tables 7-10), it is clear that the technology is diffusing to many parts of the world. For example, 16 field crops have been the sub ject of biotech research or development in 55 countries.
  • Many biotech plant varieties already have regulatory approval, and could be taken from field studies to commercial production quite rapidly, allowing substantial adoption within a few growing seasons. Two obvious examples are soybeans and maize in China, which had a total production in 2003-2004 of 16.2 million and 114 million metric tons, respectively. If half of this production was biotech, it would add about $2.5 billion to the total value of biotech crop production at 2003-2004 prices. When the deeper levels of activity preceding commercialization are explored at an international level, it is clear that a wide array of biotech plants is of potential interest (and value) in both developed and developing countries.
  • The direction of global plant biotechnology suggests that major expansions in biotech crop hectares are still to come, especially in Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa. Apart from this expansion, we expect the range of biotech crops approved commercially to continue to grow, resulting in new markets and opportunities, especially in developing countries. In fact, the greatest gains would be in the developing countries, where Gross Domestic Product could be expected to rise by as much as 2 percent.
  • If the European Union continues to restrict activity in the sector, it will slow down this global diffusion, but it cannot stop it. As it becomes increasingly isolated, it will discourage its young scientists and technicians from pursuing European careers. If, on the other hand, the EU engages biotech in an orderly regulatory framework harmonized with the rest of the world, it will encourage a more rapid international diffusion of the technology. More nations will join the top tiers of commercial production, and emerging nations will continue to expand the sector. It is unlikely that Europe will catch up with North America as a sphere of plant biotech influence, but its scientific and technical capabilities will allow it to recover relatively quickly.

C. Ford Runge, Ph.D.
Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Applied Economics and Law
Director, Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy
University of Minnesota
Barry Ryan, M.S. Research Associate
University of Minnesota
December 8, 2004
......# Amber Waves eZine (highly recommended)
......# Amber Waves Feature on Ethanol
......# ERS Feed Outlook Report
......#ERS Base Outlook Projections:
......# Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2006 Edition
Keith Wiebe and Noel Gollehon, Editors
Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-16) , July 2006

These chapters describe trends in resources used in and affected by agricultural production, as well as the economic conditions and policies that influence agricultural resource use and its environmental impacts. Each of the 28 chapters provides a concise overview of a specific topic with links to sources of additional information. Chapters are available in HTML and pdf formats.

Keywords: AREI, agricultural economics, natural resources, knowledge resources, conservation practices, conservation programs, land use, water, conventional agriculture, organic agriculture, soil conservation, conservation policy, environmental quality

Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) USDA
......# The Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) advises the Secretary on the economic implications of policies and programs affecting the U.S. food and fiber system and rural areas as well as coordinates, reviews, and approves the Department's commodity and farm sector forecasts. OCE staff also coordinates USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum, which has been hosted annually since 1923.
......# The World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) serves as USDA’s focal point for economic intelligence and the commodity outlook for U.S. and world agriculture. The Board coordinates, reviews, and approves the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, houses OCE's Joint Agricultural Weather Facility, and coordinates USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum. Annually, the Forum attracts 1,500 attendees, including producers, policymakers, business leaders, and government and industry analysts.
......# The Office of Energy Policy and New Uses (OEPNU) assists the Secretary of Agriculture in developing and coordinating Departmental energy policy, programs, and strategies.

Research is currently underway on biodiesel fuels, ethanol fuels, and other sources of biomass energy. Jim Duffield is the primary contact for biodiesel research and energy use in agriculture, and Hosein Shapouri is the contact for ethanol studies. Both economists are involved with tracking trends in agricultural energy uses. Measurement of atmospheric emissions associated with renewable energy also is under study.

The potential effects of deregulation of electric utilities on rural communities are being studied in cooperation with the Department's rural Utilities Service. Marvin Duncan is the lead researcher.

Beginning in fiscal year 1999, OEPNU assumed responsibility for conducting a program of research on the feasibility and economic and market potential of new uses for agricultural products. Marvin Duncan is the primary contact.
......# The mission of the Director of sustainable Development is to advance the principles and goals of sustainable development through partnerships, collaboration, and outreach.

USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
......# NASS Publications.
Welcome from the Administrator
Administrator R. Ronald Bosecker

In 1791, President George Washington, spurred by an inquiry, wrote to several farmers requesting information on land values, crops, yields, livestock prices, and taxes. It was in effect, the Nation's first documented agricultural survey. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln founded the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) with one of its missions being the dissemination of information about U.S. agriculture. One year later, the first USDA statistical report was released.

Today, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture-production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm finances, chemical use, and changes in the demographics of U.S. producers are only a few examples.

NASS is committed to providing timely, accurate, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. To uphold our commitment NASS will continue to.

  • Report the facts on American agriculture, facts needed by people working in and depending upon U.S. agriculture.
  • Provide objective and unbiased statistics on a predetermined schedule that is fair and impartial to all market participants.
  • Conduct the Census of Agriculture every five years, the only source of consistent, comparable, and detailed agricultural data for every county in America .
  • Serve the needs of our data users and customers at a local level through our network of State field offices and our cooperative relationship with universities and State Departments of Agriculture.
  • Safeguard the privacy of farmers, ranchers, and other data providers; we guarantee to keep data security and confidentiality our top priorities.

Foreign Agricultural Service of the USDA
......# GAIN Reports

China, Peoples Republic of Biotechnology Annual 2005
Approved by: Maurice House U.S. Embassy Beijing
Prepared by: Anthony Cino, Kevin Latner, Wu Bugang

Report Highlights:
Despite lack of transparency in regulatory development and unprecedented testing requirements on imports, U.S. biotech soybeans and U.S. and domestic biotech cotton are selling at near record volumes. China is currently the largest market for U.S. agricultural biotechnology products and is the fifth largest producer of biotechnologically enhanced plants, based on acreage. A strong biotech research program and recent ratification of the Biosafety Protocol suggest biotechnology will be an integral part of China’s agricultural development for the foreseeable future.
World Bank, Washington DC
.......# Recent and Prospective Adoption of Genetically Modified
Cotton: A Global CGE Analysis of Economic Impacts
Kym Anderson, Ernesto Valenzuela and Lee Ann Jackson
World Trade Organization, Geneva
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3917, May 2006

This paper provides estimates of the economic impact of initial adoption of genetically modified (GM) cotton and of its potential impacts beyond the few countries where it is currently common. Use is made of the latest version of the GTAP database and model.
Our results suggest that by following the lead of China and South Africa, adoption of GM cotton varieties by other developing countries – especially in Sub-Saharan Africa – could provide even larger proportionate gains to farmer and national welfare than in those firstadopting countries. Furthermore, those estimated gains are shown to exceed those from a successful campaign under the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda to reduce/remove cotton subsidies and import tariffs globally.
JEL codes: D58, F17, Q16, Q17
Key words: GMOs, cotton biotechnology, computable general equilibrium modeling,
economic welfare, subsidy and tariff reform


.......# Most countries would gain from freer global trade, says OECD agriculture report
June 9, 2006
Stefan Tangermann, Director of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries

Paris -- If current levels of trade protection and domestic support for farm and manufactured goods were halved worldwide, the potential benefits - through higher incomes for consumers and producers – could total around 44 billion US dollars a year, according to a new OECD report.

The largest part of the gain is expected to come from agricultural reform, it adds. About 80% of the benefits in agriculture would result from cutting tariffs and export subsidies.

The report finds that almost all countries gain overall. Those with the highest levels of support and protection would benefit most from such reforms. The most efficient agricultural exporters would also gain significantly. But for many developing economies the immediate benefits would be relatively small and would be concentrated more in manufacturing than in agricultural trade.
Agriculture policy and trade reform: potential effects at global, national and household levels, assesses the impact of greater liberalisation on producers and consumers. By identifying the groups who may become worse off following such reforms, the report gives governments the opportunity to design policies to help them adjust.

The main findings of the report are summarised below:

Agricultural policy and trade reform: Potential effects at global, national and household levels
The average Producer Support Estimate (PSE) in the OECD area is 30 percent. This means that almost one-third of farm receipts are derived from government intervention. This is an improvement on the levels seen before the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations which averaged 37%. Most of the support, 65%, comes through measures that raise producer prices, including tariffs, export subsidies and domestic output subsidies. These measures seriously distort production, markets and trade. In this regard there was also some improvement as these policies represented 83% of all support before the Uruguay Round.

Support levels differ enormously across countries. Australia reports a PSE of only 4% and New Zealand 2%, the European Union 34% and the United States 17%. The highest levels are reported by Norway, Switzerland, Korea and Japan, all around 60% or higher.

Farm incomes, the quality of the agricultural environment and landscape, and prosperity in rural areas are often quoted as the raison d’être for these high levels of intervention. In practice, the existing policy set is quite inefficient in advancing these goals. Income effects are often perverse, granting most of the support to those who have the largest farms, and generating large leakages to upstream and downstream agents who were not the intended beneficiaries, or to people who own but do not farm land. Environmental effects are sometimes the opposite of what was intended as subsidies stimulate intensive production. Rural development is more effectively fostered by measures such as investment in infrastructure, education and social services.
A simultaneous reform involving a halving of trade protection and domestic support across all sectors (i.e. agriculture and manufacturing) has been estimated as potentially generating US44 billion in welfare gains globally. Most of these gains arise from agricultural reform. Within agriculture the gains are dominated by reform of market access measures, not surprising as these are both the most distorting and the most dominant type of support. Also unsurprisingly, it is the countries with the highest levels of support and protection that benefit most from reform. Japan, the EU, and several smaller OECD countries are all likely to make significant welfare gains as a result of multilateral reform.

The most efficient agricultural exporters are also likely to gain significantly from agricultural reform. Among these, countries like Australia, Brazil, the US and Thailand figure prominently. Almost all countries gain overall, but for many developing countries (in particular those for whom domestic agriculture production is largely consumed at home and those that are large net food importers), the immediate gains are relatively small and originate more in manufacturing than in agricultural trade.

Land rental values fall significantly in many countries as a result of reform, suggesting that programme benefits are capitalised to a significant degree. The largest effects are in the European Union, the United States, Canada and Japan

David Pannell (
Professor, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics,
University of Western Australia

......# David Pannell Home Page (links at that page, plus more).
Program Leader, People, Land and Water Program,
Cooperative Research Centre for Plant-Based Management of Dryland Salinity
A sampling:
Recent papers
  • Salinity economics and policy Summary 29 Nov 2005
  • Agriculture’s likely role in meeting Canada’s Kyoto commitments Full paper (135K pdf) 27 Oct 2005
  • Policies and politics: Challenges and opportunities for economists Full paper (85K) 10 Aug 2005
  • SIF3: An investment framework dryland salinity Full paper (115K pdf) SIF3 project page 2-page summary 13 July 2005
  • Salinity: new knowledge with big implications Full paper (19K) 13 July 2005
  • Climate change and the economics of farm management in the face of land degradation Full paper (119K pdf) 14 April 2005
  • Understanding and promoting adoption of conservation practices by rural landholders Full paper (161K) PDF version (182K) 4 February 2005
  • Issues of confusion or controversy in economics Full paper (81K) 25 January 2005
  • Economics of pre-emptive management to avoid glyphosate resistance Full paper (77K) 20 October 2004
Pannell Discussions
Brief pieces on issues and ideas in economics, science, the environment, natural resource management, politics, people, agriculture and whatever else.
  • 77. Channel 9's salinity exposé 29 May 2006
  • 76. Public and private benefits and extension 22 May 2006
  • 75. Public and private benefits, incentives and lags 15 May 2006
  • 74. Public and private benefits and incentives 8 May 2006
  • 73. Public and private benefits and policy choices 1 May 2006
  • 72. Headaches 17 Apr 2006
  • 71. Agonising decisions 10 Apr 2006
  • 70. Risky decision making 27 Mar 2006
  • 69. Climate change 6 Feb 2006
  • 68. Multiple outcomes in environmental programs 16 Jan 2006

......# European Biotech industry figures show signs of chronic under-funding

-EuropaBio, 30 May 2006, via Agbioview.
The latest figures published today compares biotechnology sectors across some eighteen European nations and the USA.

The report finds that the European and the US biotechnology industries both have around 2000 companies, but the US sector employs nearly twice as many people, spends around three times as much on research and development, has twice the number of employees involved in research and development, raises over twice as much venture capital, and has access to 10 times as much debt finance. It earns twice as much revenue.

Despite the right-minded high-level political intentions to transform Europe into an innovation-intensive economic powerhouse, Europe’s biotechnology project is in danger of foundering from the relative dearth of that most vital of fuels for innovation: money. There is a good deal of national government enthusiasm for biotechnology, apparent in a myriad of technology transfer initiatives, seed funding schemes, and taxation schemes encouraging bioscience and other high-technology research and development.

According to John Hodgson, Partner at Critical I - a specialist biotechnology consultancy – who authored the study: “Venture capital is a luxury. Less than 10% of European companies win venture funds each year. But it is an indispensable luxury. Only properly capitalised companies can hope to compete globally in knowledge-intensive industries like biotechnology.”

The report shows that Europe’s science base is inventive, and the establishment of over 100 new biotechnology firms across Europe in 2004 is testimony to the fact that its inventors are entrepreneurial, too. However, the practicalities of funding innovation, whether in science or in business, are currently confounding the good intentions and enthusiasm. “Europe can be a breeding ground for European companies, or it can be a greenhouse for high-technology firms that are acquired by better funded US firms. The development of technology will follow the money that allows it to develop. Europe needs to ensure that the money is here,” says John Hodgson.

This study identified 2,163 European biotechnology companies whose primary commercial activity was in biotechnology.

Responding to the industry figures published today, Dr Hans Kast, Chairman of EuropaBio, and President and CEO of BASF Plant Science said: “Identifying the problem is the first step to a solution. A second step is providing significant financial and tax incentives to investors and venture capitalists to invest in biotechnology such as the Young Innovative Company (YIC) concept. This was introduced in France in 2004, and gives generous tax and social cost incentives for small companies developing new, science-based products. Making this the norm across all Member States would give a significant boost to attracting more investors to our sector and help to close the yawning competitiveness gap.”

Johan Vanhemelrijck, Secretary General of EuropaBio said: “Europe is extraordinarily entrepreneurial, creating over 100 new small vibrant companies each year. These companies must keep being vibrant, but they must stop being small. More than anything, Europe must ensure that its biotechnology firms grow, and they must do it rapidly and efficiently.”
Link to report

For further information, contact:
Critical I Limited - John Hodgson
Mobile: +44 7957 367 850
Direct Tel: +44 1223 307544

EuropaBio - Adeline Farrelly
Mobile: +32 475 93 17 24
Tel: +32 2 735 0313

CEI Home page.
........#Openmarket Blog.
........#CEI Openmarket Blog Agriculture and Biotech posts.
........# Bitter Fruit
Over at the American Conservative, Tim presents the sordid history of the sugar industry in the U.S. and the government's long history of subsidizing a fundamentally uncompetitive product.

For ideas on how we can stem the flow of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of sugar growers, take a look at the paper by Ivan, Barbara and Fran on sugar reform.

Richard Morrison at CEI

Rabobank Australia
.......# Aussie beef in best shape for years, but volatile times ahead: Industry Report

2 May 2006
Partial Quote:
"Export-reliant industries face a more complex set of challenges than those focused on the domestic market, making them more difficult to predict and manage," says Mr Cordingley. "Such factors are important to the Australian beef industry, heavily reliant on international demand with 65 per cent of production exported. To date, the industry has been a stand out performer in managing this risk and maximising its global opportunity. But global competition will inevitably intensify in the medium term and the likelihood is that Australian cattle prices will be forced lower as a result."

In particular, the growth in lot feeding over the last two decades has coincided with the rapid expansion in beef exports to North Asian markets, and underpinned Australia's ability consistently to deliver stability of quality and supply. "There is little doubt that the feedlot sector will play an increasingly important and dominant role in the Australian cattle production chain in years to come," says Mr Cordingley.

However, lot feeders face a number of significant challenges in the coming years. The report warns that while grass-fed systems in South America currently remain more efficient than grain-fed, greater access to the high value US, Japanese and Korean markets could encourage South American producers, particularly Argentina, to increase production of high quality grain fed beef.

In addition, domestic growth in lot-feeding relies on grain production being high and prices low to allow the sector to outbid grass finishers to secure cattle numbers. Falling grain supplies, for instance through drought, or higher demand from alternative grain users like ethanol producers, could impact on the ability of feedlots to meet growth expectations. The report shows also that volatile cattle prices, as experienced domestically in 2005, can make trade difficult for feedlots, with the record highs in August limiting access to cattle numbers.

The Rabobank report also points to the significant role played by relative currency values in determining competitiveness in beef export markets. In recent years, this has been less important to Australian beef export prices with the exclusion of US and Canadian beef from high value North Asian markets. Their gradual return will bring more competitive pressure to bear, but the appreciation of the Brazilian real in recent months and, more importantly, any signs of weakness in the Australian dollar relative to the US and Korean currencies, will aid Australian competitiveness in these key markets.

Mr Cordingley concludes that "for both processors and producers, the only certainty is that continued gains in productivity, while maintaining product quality, will generate financial rewards that are secure from the vagaries of international markets."
Stock Feed Manufacturers' Council of Australia

.......# Stock Feed Industry Fact Sheet

AEI, American Enterprise Institute

......# Let Them Eat Precaution How Politics Is Undermining the Genetic Revolution in Agriculture
By Jay Byrne, Gregory Conko, Jon Entine, Tony Gilland, Thomas Jefferson Hoban, Patrick Moore, Andrew S. Natsios, Martina Newell-McGloughlin, Robert L. Paarlberg, C. S. Prakash, Carol Tucker Foreman
Edited by Jon Entine
AEI Press (Washington)
Publication Date: January 2006
ISBN: 0844742007

The genetic revolution has offered more promise than substance, except in agriculture, where it has brought profound benefits to farmers and consumers for more than a decade. More nutritious food is now produced with less environmental costs because genetically modified crops require almost no pesticides. Vitamin-enhanced crops and foods are helping to reduce malnutrition in parts of the developing world, and a wave of biopharmaceuticals is being developed. Yet, for all its achievements and promise, agricultural biotechnology is under intense fire from advocacy groups warning of “Frankenfoods” and fanning fear of a “corporate takeover” of agriculture by biotech firms. Mired in a rancorous trade and cultural war between Europe and the United States and inflamed by a politicized media, this technology remains dramatically underutilized, with particularly tragic consequences for millions of starving people in Africa and other poverty-stricken regions.

In Let Them Eat Precaution, authors from the United States and the United Kingdom deconstruct these controversies and offer solutions to the current impasse. They address both the risks and rewards of genetic modification; the differing paths that debate over genetic manipulation has followed in Europe and the developing world, in contrast to the United States; the debate’s impact on the commercial realities of companies’ developing new products; and ways to foster more constructive discussion of the costs and benefits of genetic modification to bring about more rational and internationally coordinated public policy.

The authors argue that an effective communications strategy focused on the current and potential benefits that these technologies provide is critical if we hope to exploit fully these technological advances. Proponents of biotechnology must accept the fact that sound science is only one criterion for public policymaking and speak to the broader set of concerns—political, social, moral, and economic—that this debate engenders.

Agricultural Biotechnology on Hold
The Alice-in-Wonderland World of the “Precautionary Principle”

Thomas Jefferson Hoban
Leaders’ Views on Biotechnology: Results of a Survey

C. S. Prakash and Gregory Conko
The Challenge of Food Security in Developing Countries
Modern Biotechnology Joins Crop Development
Biotechnology Has Begun to Affect the Developing World
Improved Health through Better Nutrition
High Anxiety—Public Unease over Bioengineered Crops?
Do Bioengineered Crops Harm the Environment?
Unnecessary Speed Bumps and Roadblocks
The Road Ahead: Toward Improved Food Security for All

Europe and the Precautionary Principle
The British Experience
Food Scares and the Significance of the BSE and
CJD Episode
The UK Government’s Response to GM Fears
European Regulation and Labeling Requirements
The Price of the Precautionary Principle

Andrew S. Natsios
The Debate over Biotechnology
Placing Biotechnology Concerns into Context

Reasons for the Restricted Planting of GM Crops
Trying to Make a Case against the Regulations
Who Will Lose If the EU Wins?
Options for the United States

Food and Feelings
Current Public Views of Biotechnology
Why the Skepticism about GM Foods?
New Generation of Products May Exacerbate Consumer
The Current Regulatory System Undermines Support for Food Biotechnology
Practical Steps to Improve Prospects for Public Acceptance of Food Biotechnology

The Internet
Charting a Course for Change

Martina Newell-McGloughlin
Functional Foods
Plant Molecular Farming

Campaign of Fear and Fantasy
GM Crop Technology vs. Greenpeace in the Developing World
Breaking Greenpeace’s Grip on the Media

......# to be continued

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Full Monty on Global Land Use.

Here is what you'll find in this post:

  1. Land-use changes are greatest threat to biodiversity by year 2100.
  2. How technology can reduce our impact on the Earth.
  3. Can the World Produce 40% More Rice by 2030?
  4. Increasing agricultural water use efficiency to meet future food production.
  5. Forecasting agriculturally driven global environmental change.
  6. Agricultural sustainability and intensive production practices.
  7. Global consequences of land use.
  8. Farming and the fate of wild nature.
  9. Nature Magazine, Issue relating to food and farming 2002.
  10. GMO Pundit Posts links.
  11. Use of modern agricultural technologies is essential to avert the impending consequences of overpopulation. Science Furum summary.
  12. Genetics is Moving The Corn Belt and Soybeans are Marching North.
  13. Significant Brazilian land use savings have come from crop technology this last decade.
  14. Modern Cotton versus organic cotton: technology reduced environmental footprint.
  15. Cotton Pushes South in NSW.
  16. Ethanol versus conservation reserve in the US.
  17. Global land productivty Trends USDA ERS
  18. US Agricultural Land Use. USDA ERS.
  19. Stern report on climate change discussess importance of farm productivity in preservation of forest. October 2006.
  20. How much will feeding more and wealthier people encroach on forests? Paul E. Waggoner and Jesse H. Ausubel, January 2000.
  21. Mixed cereal growing to mitigate risk on degraded land, Ethiopia.

Global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100.
Scenarios of changes in biodiversity for the year 2100 can now be developed based on scenarios of changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide, climate, vegetation, and land use and the known sensitivity of biodiversity to these changes. This study identified a ranking of the importance of drivers of change, a ranking of the biomes with respect to expected changes, and the major sources of uncertainties.

For terrestrial ecosystems, land-use change probably will have the largest effect, followed by climate change, nitrogen deposition, biotic exchange, and elevated carbon dioxide concentration.

For freshwater ecosystems, biotic exchange is much more important. Mediterranean climate and grassland ecosystems likely will experience the greatest proportional change in biodiversity because of the substantial influence of all drivers of biodiversity change.

Northern temperate ecosystems are estimated to experience the least biodiversity change because major land-use change has already occurred. Plausible changes in biodiversity in other biomes depend on interactions among the causes of biodiversity change. These interactions represent one of the largest uncertainties in projections of future biodiversity change.
Science. 2000 Mar 10;287(5459):1770-4.
Sala OE, Chapin FS 3rd, Armesto JJ, Berlow E, Bloomfield J, Dirzo R,
Huber-Sanwald E, Huenneke LF, Jackson RB, Kinzig A, Leemans R, Lodge DM, Mooney
HA, Oesterheld M, Poff NL, Sykes MT, Walker BH, Walker M, Wall DH.

How technology can reduce our impact on the Earth.
Nature. 2003 May 8;423(6936):115. Goklany IM, Trewavas AJ.
Prudent use of innovations could avoid sacrificing the present for the future, or vice versa.

William E. Rees, in his Concepts essay "A blot on the land" (Nature 421, 898; 2003), uses the ecological-footprint concept to argue that the 'carrying capacity' of the Earth has been exceeded because of technological and economic growth, and to counter some economists' claims that the carrying capacity can increase indefinitely. The critical point, unrecognized by either side, is not whether the carrying capacity can increase indefinitely but whether it can increase rapidly enough to accommodate the environmental and economic expectations of a world that grows wealthier as its population growth rate slows dramatically.

Paradoxically, both technology and economic development provide the means to solve the very problems they create. Without technological development in the first instance, the human population would be smaller, because higher birth rates would have been offset by higher mortality rates. Dispensing with present technology now would undoubtedly be catastrophic in human terms — people would be hungrier, unhealthier and shorter-lived , without the world necessarily becoming ecologically more stable.

Similarly, foregoing economic development, which helps to generate wealth, would also be calamitous (see I. M. Goklany, Case Western Law Review; in the press). Only wealthy countries can afford the scientific infrastructure to research, develop and put into use clean technologies that increase the Earth's carrying capacity.

Can the World Produce 40% More Rice by 2030?
CO2 Science Volume 9, Number 9: 1 March 2006
What will it take to feed five billion rice consumers in 2030? That is the question that plagues the mind of Gurdev S. Khush (2005) of the International Rice Research Institute in Metro Manila, Philippines. "According to various estimates," in his words, "we will have to produce 40% more rice by 2030 to satisfy the growing demand without affecting the resource base adversely," because, as he continues, "if we are not able to produce more rice from the existing land resources, land-hungry farmers will destroy forests and move into more fragile lands such as hillsides and wetlands with disastrous consequences for biodiversity and watersheds," echoing sentiments previously expressed by Wallace (2000), Tilman et al. (2001; 2002), Foley et al. (2005), and Green et al. (2005). Hence, as Khush puts it, the expected increase in the demand for food "will have to be met from less land, with less water, less labor and fewer chemicals."
Increasing agricultural water use efficiency to meet future food production
JS Wallace Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 82 (2000) 105–119
With the world’s population set to increase by 65% (3.7 billion) by about 2050, the additional food required to feed future generations will put further enormous pressure on freshwater resources. This is because agriculture is the largest single user of fresh water, accounting for about 75% of current human water use. At present about 7% of the world’s population live in areas where water is scarce. This is predicted to rise to a staggering 67% of the world’s population by 2050. Because of this water scarcity and because new arable land is also limited, future increases in production will have to come mainly by growing more food on existing land and water. This paper looks at how this might be achieved by examining the efficiency with which water is used in agriculture. Globally, in both irrigated and rain fed agriculture only about 10–30% of the available water (as rainfall, surface or groundwater) is used by plants as transpiration. In arid and semi-arid areas, where water is scarce and population growth is high, this figure is nearer 5% in rain fed crops. There is, therefore, great potential for improving water use efficiency in agriculture, particularly, in those areas where the need is greatest. The technical basis for improving agricultural water use efficiency is illustrated. This may be achieved by increasing the total amount of the water resource that is made available to plants for transpiration and/or by increasing the efficiency with which transpired water produces biomass. It is concluded that there is much scope for improvement, particularly, in the former and that future global change research should shift its emphasis to addressing this real and immediate challenge.

Forecasting agriculturally driven global environmental change.
Tilman D, Fargione J, Wolff B, D'Antonio C, Dobson A, Howarth R, Schindler D, Schlesinger WH, Simberloff D, Swackhamer D. Science. 2001 Apr 13;292(5515):281-4. Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, 1987 Upper Buford Circle, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.
During the next 50 years, which is likely to be the final period of rapid agricultural expansion, demand for food by a wealthier and 50% larger global population will be a major driver of global environmental change. Should past dependences of the global environmental impacts of agriculture on human population and consumption continue, 10(9) hectares of natural ecosystems would be converted to agriculture by 2050. This would be accompanied by 2.4- to 2.7-fold increases in nitrogen- and phosphorus-driven eutrophication of terrestrial, freshwater, and near-shore marine ecosystems, and comparable increases in pesticide use. This eutrophication and habitat destruction would cause unprecedented ecosystem simplification, loss of ecosystem services, and species extinctions. Significant scientific advances and regulatory, technological, and policy changes are needed to control the environmental impacts of agricultural expansion.

Agricultural sustainability and intensive production practices.
Tilman D, Cassman KG, Matson PA, Naylor R, Polasky S. Nature. 2002 Aug 8;418(6898):671-7.
Comment in: Nature. 2003 Mar 27;422(6930):397-8; discussion 398. Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA.
A doubling in global food demand projected for the next 50 years poses huge challenges for the sustainability both of food production and of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the services they provide to society. Agriculturalists are the principal managers of global usable lands and will shape, perhaps irreversibly, the surface of the Earth in the coming decades. New incentives and policies for ensuring the sustainability of agriculture and ecosystem services will be crucial if we are to meet the demands of improving yields without compromising environmental integrity or public health.

Global consequences of land use.
Foley JA, Defries R, Asner GP, Barford C, Bonan G, Carpenter SR, Chapin FS, Coe MT, Daily GC, Gibbs HK, Helkowski JH, Holloway T, Howard EA, Kucharik CJ, Monfreda C, Patz JA, Prentice IC, Ramankutty N, Snyder PK. Science. 2005 Jul 22;309(5734):570-4. Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), University of Wisconsin, 1710 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53726, USA.
Land use has generally been considered a local environmental issue, but it is becoming a force of global importance. Worldwide changes to forests, farmlands, waterways, and air are being driven by the need to provide food, fiber, water, and shelter to more than six billion people. Global croplands, pastures, plantations, and urban areas have expanded in recent decades, accompanied by large increases in energy, water, and fertilizer consumption, along with considerable losses of biodiversity. Such changes in land use have enabled humans to appropriate an increasing share of the planet's resources, but they also potentially undermine the capacity of ecosystems to sustain food production, maintain freshwater and forest resources, regulate climate and air quality, and ameliorate infectious diseases. We face the challenge of managing trade-offs between immediate human needs and maintaining the capacity of the biosphere to provide goods and services in the long term.
Farming and the fate of wild nature.
Green RE, Cornell SJ, Scharlemann JP, Balmford A. Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, UK.
Science. 2005 Jan 28;307(5709):550-5. Epub 2004 Dec 23. Comment in: Science. 2005 May 27;308(5726):1257-8; author reply 1257-8.
World food demand is expected to more than double by 2050. Decisions about how to meet this challenge will have profound effects on wild species and habitats.
We show that farming is already the greatest extinction threat to birds (the best known taxon), and its adverse impacts look set to increase, especially in developing countries. Two competing solutions have been proposed: wildlife-friendly farming (which boosts densities of wild populations on farmland but may decrease agricultural yields) and land sparing (which minimizes demand for farmland by increasing yield). We present a model that identifies how to resolve the trade-off between these approaches. This shows that the best type of farming for species persistence depends on the demand for agricultural products and on how the population densities of different species on farmland change with agricultural yield. Empirical data on such density-yield functions are sparse, but evidence from a range of taxa in developing countries suggests that high-yield farming may allow more species to persist.
Nature Magazine, Issue relating to food and farming
Volume 418 Number 6898 pp3-707
(8 August 2002)

Food & the future p667
Henry Gee

Malthus foiled again and again p668
Antony Trewavas
Throughout history, increasing population has driven the need to increase agricultural efficiency, so averting successive 'malthusian' disasters. In the twentieth century, the application of scientific knowledge to agriculture yielded tremendous dividends, enabling cereal yields to increase threefold since 1950. But with the world's population projected to reach nine billion by the middle of this century, new ways must be found to increase yields while preserving natural habitats and biodiversity.
The application of scientific knowledge to agriculture has yielded extraordinary dividends. Although estimates suggest that about 800 million people are still undernourished, it is thought that this number will drop to about 600 million, largely in sub-Saharan Africa, by 2025 (refs 1, 2). But this is no time for congratulation: although it is hoped the human population will level off at about nine billion by 2050, the population is currently still expanding. Additionally, as populations get richer, meat consumption increases and, because cattle are fed largely on cereals, cereal yields will have to at least double to keep pace.

Achieving this target will face an additional constraint not seen before — lack of available farmland. From 1800 onwards, more food was simply produced by ploughing up virgin land and forest. The land area used for farming increased about fivefold up to the middle of the twentieth century in step with population increases. The Green Revolution put a brake on this expansion, increasing yields threefold with no need for further expansion5. Since 1950, the proportion of the land devoted to farming has barely increased, even though the world population doubled over the same period. We currently use at least half the available good quality soil for agriculture, with the remainder under tropical forests6. This leads to an obvious dilemma. Unless we can pull off a second Green Revolution, increasing yield but limiting it to land currently used for farming, there will be further deterioration of natural habitats and biodiversity at a rate that could even threaten the further existence of humanity.

The lessons of history are clear. Successive lurches in population number have driven the development of new agricultural technologies designed to provide food for growing populations. This process of discovery will continue until there is an abundance of food equally enjoyed by the whole world population. We are far from achieving that at the present time, and there is therefore a constant need to examine the state of current agriculture to see where progress needs to be made. The following collection of articles on 'Food and the future' provides a snapshot of the current state of play.

Agricultural sustainability and intensive production practices p671
David Tilman, Kenneth G. Cassman, Pamela A. Matson, Rosamond Naylor and Stephen Polasky

Enhancing the crops to feed the poor p678
Jikun Huang, Carl Pray and Scott Rozelle
Solutions to the problem of how the developing world will meet its future food needs are broader than producing more food, although the successes of the 'Green Revolution' demonstrate the importance of technology in generating the growth in food output in the past. Despite these successes, the world still faces continuing vulnerability to food shortages. Given the necessary funding, it seems likely that conventional crop breeding, as well as emerging technologies based on molecular biology, genetic engineering and natural resource management, will continue to improve productivity in the coming decades.

Billions of people struggle for a better life in the developing world, but they are able to improve their prospects of achieving this only when there is abundant and affordable food available1. Food security for the poor is dependent on issues such as access to the resources needed to buy or produce their own food2; nethertheless, welfare increased dramatically for many after the Second World War, in part because of the huge increase in agriculture's ability to produce food. Improving quality of life in the twenty-first century will likewise require as much, if not more, effort in increasing global food production. One of the great challenges of the coming decades will be to produce the food and fibre that is needed to feed and clothe those in the poorer parts of the world. And although from some perspectives this seems like an impossible task — in the same way that it must have to the doomsday forecasters since the days of Malthus — there are many reasons to believe it can be achieved.

In this review, we explore how technology can help the developing world meet its food needs in the twenty-first century. We begin by discussing the role of technology in generating past growth in productivity and output by analysing the successes and failures of the Green Revolution. Despite the past successes, the world's continuing vulnerability to food shortages is illustrated. The constraints that are holding back food production are examined, and we divide these into those that can be addressed by traditional crop breeding and agronomic techniques, and those that can be best solved by biotechnology and other high-technology approaches. We then shift our focus to the future. Drawing on a survey of prominent scientists and research administrators in China and interviews with scientists elsewhere in the world, we assess the technologies that are currently available and those that hold promise in the future. Finally, we turn our attention to who will create the new technologies and where the resources to create them will come from.

Benefits and limitations of genetic engineering

GM technologies have benefited the farmers who have adopted them, mainly through time-saving gains, increased yields and reduced chemical pesticide inputs. Herbicide-resistant soya beans in Argentina have reduced costs of production per hectare through a reduction in herbicide applications33. The average Bt cotton farmer in China has reduced pesticide sprayings for the Asian boll worm from 20 to 6 times per year and produces a kilogram of cotton for 28% less cost than the farmer using non-Bt varieties34. Mexican and South African Bt cotton farmers increased the yields at the same time that they reduced their costs35, 36. The reduction in pesticide use not only saves farmers the financial outlay for insecticides, but also reduced the incidence of insecticide poisonings37.

Although the potential exists in the future for increasing food production and alleviating constraints on cereal production in semi-favourable and marginal areas of developing countries, progress so far is limited. No GM varieties of a major food grain are currently being grown in developing countries, and there is very little work being done on crops grown in many marginal areas, such as millet, cassava or beans. But field trials for bio-safety clearance of GM varieties show that some major GM food crops are in the pipeline, and a few countries are actually releasing or close to releasing GM food crops. China's scientists, for example, are working on GM rice, potato and peanuts, crops that have been largely ignored in the developed world. Researchers in other developing countries are working on sugarcane, papaya and a number of other tropical crops. South Africa is leading the way in growing GM subsistence crops with the production of GM white maize, the first harvest of which will take place this year38. Other major food crops that are in the final stages of testing before commercial release are Bt rice, disease-resistant rice and Bt maize in China, and virus-resistant sweet potato and Bt maize in Kenya32, 34. Much more than in developed countries, biosafety is emerging as a principal constraint on release of GM organisms in developing countries.

Like developed countries, the characteristics of GM crops that are in the pipeline in developing countries are overwhelmingly focused on herbicide tolerance and insect resistance. Except for China, 80% of the field trials are on varieties that contain these characteristics individually or 'stacked' together39. Field trials of crops that were being promoted primarily for higher yield were less that 1% of the field trials in developing countries. In China, however, scientists are experimenting with nutrition-enhanced varieties of rice, shelf-life-enhanced varieties of tomatoes, and other characteristics.

Assessing the risks associated with new agricultural practices p685
R. S. Hails
Evolution, consequences and future of plant and animal domestication p700
Jared Diamond

GMO Pundit Posts:
......# More Nutrition per drop
......# Water Wars
......# Saving natural resources
......# Water productivity on the farm
......# Better land use better for poverty too
......# Solutions to Salinity in Australia
......# Using Science to save water resources..
......# Preventing erosion and saving fuel with conservation tillage.
......# Brazil leverages of technology not land clearing to double crop output this last decade.
......# Organic farming uses more land and does not leach less nitrate to water drainage systems.
.......# More data and links documenting lower yield and higher leaching than conventional cover crop option with organic farming in Sweden.
......# Environmental footprint of cotton reduced by technology, better than going organic.

Dr. Rüdiger Scheitza at the 2006 Science Forum in Frankfurt: “Use of modern agricultural technologies is essential to avert the impending consequences of overpopulation”
May 18, 2006
......# Bayer Crop Science

Frankfurt (Germany) – “Science and Society: Caring for Future Needs” – this was the title of the third international Science Forum. On May 18, 2006, Bayer CropScience invited more than 100 leading scientists, representatives from the food industry, politicians, administrators and representatives of the media from both Germany and abroad to Frankfurt. The presentations by the internationally renowned speakers focussed on major global challenges such as overpopulation and climate change, along with their consequences: shortages of natural resources, dwindling supplies of water and food, and displacement of the flow of goods.
In his opening speech, Dr. Rüdiger Scheitza, Member of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience AG, talked about the role of agriculture in our society. “Sustainable farming produces high-quality food, feed and renewable raw materials. It also makes a significant contribution to environmental objectives such as protecting soil and water quality, maintaining biodiversity and preserving landscapes. This makes it an important element in society,” he stressed. Added Scheitza, “More intensive use of modern agricultural technologies such as seed treatment or plant biotechnology is essential if we are to avert the impending consequences of overpopulation.”
In this context, Dr. Scheitza urged politicians to create dependable underlying conditions for successful, future-oriented research work. Product registration in particular has become increasingly complex, with growing volumes of bureaucratic work as a result of burgeoning legal requirements. “We have some serious concerns about the proposed revision of EU Directive 91/414, as it places research-based companies at a disadvantage,” said Scheitza in regard to the planned revision of the directive for the re-evaluation of crop protection agents. For example, the current draft stipulates a shortened period of data protection, reduced from 15 to ten years, for new active substances, while the original developers of already registered, patent-free active substances will lose all data protection. In addition, it is planned to scrap the possibility of preliminary national registration. In future, the precondition for registration of a crop protection agent will be Annex I listing, which is valid EU-wide.
Given the background of increasing resistances, the wide-spread prevalence of numerous economically relevant crop diseases and in view of stricter regulatory requirements, the development of new, efficient active substances with improved environmental properties is more necessary than ever before. Bayer CropScience relies on its outstanding research pipeline. Since 2000, for example, 16 new active substances have been launched, with another 10 scheduled to follow from 2006 to 2011. Bayer CropScience holds the view that politics must also help to ensure that discussions on topics such as genetic engineering or food safety are conducted on an objective level. “Bayer CropScience believes that plant biotechnology has great potential for innovation, both in regard to new, health-promoting foods and in the production of sustainable raw materials,” said Scheitza, underlining the economic significance of plant biotechnology.
Overpopulation and drought threaten prosperity
Lester Brown, founder and President of the Earth Policy Institute, Washington, USA, talked about the topic of “The fast changing world food prospect”. Brown graphically outlined the consequences of overpopulation and warned the audience about the struggle for resources. For example, it is expected that the global population will grow by 3 billion by 2050. These people will have to be fed, which will further intensify the food and water shortages that are already prevalent in large parts of the world. Using China as an example, Brown demonstrated how further increases to the standard of living in threshold countries will also have consequences for the Western world.
Genetics Moves Corn Belt
- Tom Webb, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 23, 2006 Via Agbioview
This item centers on St. Paul, Minn. - It explains for years, Iowa and parts of Minnesota were the nation's Corn Belt. But now, so is a good chunk of North Dakota, which was once considered too chilly for raising corn and soybeans. The same holds true for the Red River Valley in northwestern Minnesota.

And Kansas, it says, which features wheat on its license plates, now grows more corn than wheat despite its hot and dry summers.

It gooes on to say what is changing the Midwest is plant genetics. High-tech varieties of corn and soybeans are letting farmers reliably grow row crops where they never could before, and the results are confounding the grain trade. The change has been building for several years, but the magnitude of the shift hit home last fall when a severe summer drought wracked the eastern Corn Belt - yet the crop flourished.

"I thought there was no way" corn could do well, given the heat, said Joe Victor, vice president of marketing at Allendale Inc., a grain-trading firm in Illinois. "Every day was 98 degrees, no rain. I thought, this crop is in trouble."

The article says a new generation of super-plants had changed the game, and redrawn the map. While genetically modified crops remain controversial overseas, they have become commonplace here. "North Dakota has gone from hardly any soybeans to one of the leading soybean-production states in the United States," said Mike Vande Logt, a vice president at Croplan Genetics. He said that, over the last five years, one could say that the growing region "is moving 60 miles north every year."

The P.Inqu. says in Otter Tail County, northwest of St. Paul, Dave Johnson was out on his tractor in the third week of April, probably the earliest in the season he had ever planted corn. "When I started growing corn almost 40 years ago, we weren't considered in the Corn Belt at all," Johnson said. "We were considered too far north, so the seed companies weren't breeding any corn for this region. Things have changed a lot."

It continues with: Now, those changes are accelerating, shattering old patterns and raising new questions. With genetic engineering, is drought such a big threat anymore? Or weeds? Or bugs? Will more corn growers lead to overproduction? Or will a booming ethanol industry crave the crop?

Agriculture is sorting out the answers, according to the item.

At List; A decade of biotechnology has allowed crop breeders to change a plant's genetic instructions, just as a chef changes a recipe. Here is a sample of what scientists have been coaxing plants to do:

  • Fight bugs. By engineering insect resistance, corn breeders have created ways to fend off destructive pests such as the corn borer and corn rootworm.
  • Battle drought. By protecting plants against insects, scientists have realized a second benefit: better drought tolerance.
  • Grow quickly. Frost-free days are so scarce in North Dakota that growing a decent corn or soybean crop had long been difficult. But now, seeds are better engineered to pop out of chilly ground and start growing.
  • Thrive in crowds. Dave Nicolai, a University of Minnesota extension educator in Hutchinson, said more plants now can be crowded onto every acre, increasing yields and potential revenue.

It says that these magic traits, however, do not come cheap, and not every farmer wants to pay the price. Moreover, genetically modified crop varieties, while becoming commonplace in the United States, face considerable resistance abroad.

To quote Johnson, the Otter Tail County farmer, has wrestled with both issues. So he picks and chooses - planting genetically modified seed when he needs a special trait, but also non-genetically modified soybeans that fetch a premium price. To fight rootworm, he will skip the special seeds, rotate his crops, and pocket the savings.

"We try to outguess the money and the bugs," Johnson said.

Brazilian land savings from technology.

In the past decade, Brazil had almost doubled its cropping production, from about 70 million tonnes in 1994-95 to almost 120mt last year (2005).

Importantly from an environmental perspective, this had been done by using virtually the same land area, Dr (Fave) Neves said.

Dr Marcos Fava Neves is professor of strategy and marketing at the University of Sao Paulo.

Cotton Technology reduces environmental footprint
Cotton Land Usage discussed by Berre Worsham.

A head-to-head comparison
Where the cotton industry may have put the bat on the ball with more authority than the meat industry, however, is in dealing with the issue of organic vs. conventional methods of production.

For example, with the recent move by major retailers to board the organic bandwagon, category leaders such as Wal-Mart have already begin "educating" shoppers on organic's so-called advantages. As reported in the current issue of Southwest Farm Press, a Wal-Mart internal publication states that organically grown cotton saves nearly one ton of pesticides per acre during production.
To me, such a statement is right in league with the "One pound of meat requires 4,000 gallons of water" factoid that activists have long cherished — without any substantive documentation.

Berrye Worsham, president and CEO of Cotton Inc., plans to take on Wal-Mart over that statement and the larger issue of sustainability. "The reality is that demand for fiber is growing by nine million bale-equivalents per year, worldwide," Worsham told the magazine. "That's either going to be supplied by conventional cotton's best management practices, or it's going to be produced in a factory." In other words, loss of market share to synthetics.

Worsham cited statistics compiled — and publicized — by Cotton Inc. showing that from 1996 to 2004, there was a 17 percent reduction in cotton's "environmental footprint," even as yield per acre increased by 25 percent.

What that means over the long run is that less land is delivering greater tonnage. To anyone familiar with meat production statistics, such progress mirrors the incredible gains in lean muscle mass and carcass yield per animal the meat industry has achieved through better breeding, management and use of various inputs.
Most importantly, Cotton Inc. has developed messaging emphasizing that with only about 90 million acres in the entire world suitable for growing cotton, the supply side of the production equation is critical. Since conventional production produces about 850 pounds of fiber per acre, compared with less than 600 pounds an acre for organic, simple math shows that as organic cotton production increases, available acreage must be pulled out of production of something else — assuming those added acres are even available; I know in Arizona, what used to be cotton country is now pretty much country club — and pulled into growing cotton.
The environmental impact of such a shift, were it even possible, would be monumental.

Cotton pushes south

Thursday, 6 July 2006

Some of Australia's best cotton is being grown in the southern NSW valleys.

Peter Bunce, Australian Classing Services, Wee Waa, NSW, said the cotton coming from NSW's Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and Macquarie Valleys was consistently of a high standard.

This season, the Australian cotton crop has had its share of ups and downs.

Early-season cotton was showing signs of high micronaire and at times falling short of base grade (36 staple).

In the northern valleys, there has been a higher proportion of 35 staple and micronaire.

The southern valleys, however, have had an excellent growing season.

According to Mr Bunce, this has enabled the southern valleys to buck the trend, being this year's consistent performer.

"Only one percent of it fell below base grade and 80pc was 37 staple and above," he said.

Traditionally a cooler area, it has missed the very high heat units that threatened to play havoc with cotton in Queensland and northern NSW.

Namoi Cotton's Nic Mahoney, Narromine, described it as the best season on record for the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan Valleys.

"Our gin at Hillston is over halfway through ginning, and they are hearing reports of fields going as high as 13b/ha."

SOURCE: Extract from Australian Cotton Outlook to be distributed through Queensland Country Life and The Land, NSW, July 13, 2006

Corn growers have tough decision
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Steve Tarter, Journal Star, Peoria, Ill.
MANLIUS -- Keith Bolin was cited as saying he is not in favor of growing corn on acreage set aside for a conservation program, adding, "I know that's not what you'd expect to hear from the president of the American Corn Growers Association.
USDA's chief economist Keith Collins was cited as telling Congress last month that farmers looking to plant more corn to meet the nation's demand for ethanol might need to tap into conservation acreage, adding, "If exports and feed use are to be maintained, corn acreage would have to rise to about 90 million acres in 2010, nearly 10 million more than the average planted during 2005 and 2006" and that "4.3 to 7.2 million acres currently enrolled in the CRP could be used to grow corn or soybeans in a sustainable way."
The story says that in 2000, about 6 percent of U.S. corn went into ethanol. This year, it's expected that about 20 percent of the nation's corn would go towards fuel.

Food, fuel, feed or price

By Alan Guebert Special to the Farm Forum

Drop a pebble in the ag policy pond and the resulting ripples seem to rush over many farmers' self-interest. Drop a rock in the deepest ag policy lake, Washington, D.C., and the non-farming wonks there begin searching for solutions to problems that don't exist.

The latest illustration of this curious phenomenon is ethanol, the biggest rock to drop in the U.S. farm pond since the Soviet Union's 1970s grain-buying spree. So big and so loud is the ethanol boom that farmers and their Capitol Hill lobbyists now are beginning to worry over what they see as a future fuel-versus-food fight.

The tussle goes like this: If ethanol demand continues to grow at today's pace, American consumers soon will be forced to choose between corn-based fuel and corn-on-the-cob or corn-fed beef. As such, American farm policy must be redirected now to ensure the nation grows enough corn for fuel, food and feed.

Keith Collins, chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sanctioned this view Sept. 6 when, in testimony before the Senate's Environment and Public Works

Committee, he suggested U.S. farmers need to plant 90 million acres to corn by 2010 - or 10 million more than 2006 - to meet USDA's projected food, feed, fuel and export demand.

Indeed, Collins said, the grain demand could become so severe that as much as seven million acres of today's idled 35-million-acre Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) may be required to grow corn in just three years.

Global Resources and Productivity
Keith Wiebe
Global food production has grown faster than population in recent decades, due largely to improved seeds and increased use of fertilizer and irrigation.
Soil degradation, which depends on farmers’ incentives to adopt conservation practices, has slowed yield growth in some areas but does not threaten food security at the global level...

...Area Growth Is Slowing, So Yields Will Become More Important
FAO reports that the total area devoted to crops worldwide has increased by about 0.3 percent per year since 1961, to 3.8 billion acres in 2002. Growth has slowed markedly in the past decade, to about 0.1 percent per year, as a result of weak grain prices, deliberate policy reforms (in North America and Europe), and institutional change (in the former Soviet Union). FAO estimates that an additional 6.7 billion acres currently in other uses are suitable for crop production, but this land is unevenly distributed, and includes land with relatively low yield potential and significant environmental value.
Given economic and environmental constraints on cropland expansion, the bulk of increased crop production will need to come from increased yields on existing cropland. FAO data indicate that world cereal yields rose by about 2.5 percent per year from 1961 to 1990, but growth slowed to 1.1
percent per year in the 1990s (fig. 3.5.3).

As a result of reduced input use (reflecting low cereal prices), market and infrastructure constraints, and low levels of investment in agricultural research and technology, IFPRI and FAO project that yield growth will slow further to about 0.8 percent per year over the next several decades (see Chapter 3.4, “Productivity and Output Growth in U.S. Agriculture”).
Genetic improvements have contributed greatly to gains in yields and production of major crops, beginning with wheat, rice, and maize in the 1960s. About half of all recent gains in crop yields are attributable to genetic improvements. By the 1990s, 90 percent of wheat acreage in developing countries was in scientifically bred varieties, as was 74 percent of land in rice and 62 percent of land in maize. In developed countries, 100 percent of land in wheat, maize, and rice was in scientifically bred varieties by the 1990s (and probably even earlier). Gains from genetic improvements will continue, but likely at slower rates and increasing costs, as gains in input responsiveness have already been largely exploited (see Chapter 3.1, “Crop Genetic Resources”).
Land Use
Ruben Lubowski, Marlow Vesterby and Shawn Bucholtz
The three major uses of land in the 48 contiguous States are grassland pasture and range, forest-use land, and cropland, in that order. Total cropland (used for crops, used for pasture, and idled) declined 6 percent over 1969- 2002. Farm policy changes have reduced the acreage idled under Federal programs since 1996.

Stern report includes discussion on forest preservation. (see hyperlink to GMO Pundit quotes from Stern).

How much will feeding more and wealthier people encroach on forests?
Paul E. Waggoner and Jesse H. Ausubel, January 2000.

also as
Waggoner PE, Ausubel JH (2001) Popul Dev Rev 27:239–257.

The growing forests in industrial nations encourage a hopeful vision of a Great Restoration of nature in the form of a spreading forest canopy.[1] The reforestation supports a vision of restoration even while population continues to grow, albeit at a slowing rate, and the human condition improves. The realization of this hopeful vision rather than an apocalypse of denuded forests and destroyed nature, however, depends heavily upon how people will eat, how farmers will till, and how each change of cropland encroaches on forests.

We examine eating, tilling, and encroachment to answer the big question: How much will growing crops to feed more and wealthier people encroach on forest to the year 2050?

To many, the answer is dire and the proscription of farming clear. For example in November 1999, journalist Ed Ayres[2] wrote in Time magazine, "Agriculture is the world's biggest cause of deforestation, and increasing demand for meat is the biggest force in the expansion of agriculture." Although grazing to produce meat will affect forests, we shall concentrate on the more distinct impact of crops. Crops encompass corn to feed cows, pigs, and chickens as well as wheat, rice, and vegetables for people to eat directly. More cattle on feed rather than pasture, as in the rise from 5% on feed in the USA in 1945 to 12% in 1970[3], and more poultry and swine that depend on feed increase the importance of crops in meat production.

On the ground, of course, farming and forests interact in more ways than can be captured in a popular generalization. Angelsen and Kaimowitz (1999)[4] summarized by Helmuth (1999)[5] analyzed the manifold ways. For example, the magnet of rice growing in an irrigation project in the Philippines drew people to lowlands and reduced pressure on forests. Laborious but profitable production of coca in plantations attracted farmers and reduced pressure on South American forests. Honduran farmers who lifted their maize yields by technology planted twice as much maize as those who did not--but the total land occupied by their cropping system fell because they no longer needed broad fallow areas.

Labor-saving machinery and new crops expand cropland sometimes and some places. The expansion of soybeans encroached on native vegetation, though not on forest, in the Brazilian campo cerrado. Unsurprisingly, small Ecuadorean farmers with chain saws cleared more forest than those without.

A generalization can explain these diverse outcomes. Labor-saving technology encourages cropland encroachment on forests when both labor and the demand for crops are elastic. Recurring farm surpluses, however, testify that cheap food often fails to increase demand. Already in the 17th century Gregory King (1648-1712) noticed that the inelasticity of farm crops could make a bumper crop worth less in total as well as per ton than a skimpy one.[6] For the USA, classic studies show the farm price elasticities of demand vary from a low 0.2 for potatoes to 0.4 to 0.7 for beef, chicken, and apples. In the long run, elasticity at the retail can rise to 0.7 to 1.0 for pork and beef.[7] So, Angelsen and Kaimowitz conclude their generalizations by writing that the best technologies for conserving forests are ones that "greatly improve the yields of products that have inelastic demand."...continues at link
Farmer Management of Production Risk on Degraded Lands: The Role of Wheat Genetic Diversity in Tigray Region, Ethiopia

Abstract: This article investigates the effects of wheat genetic diversity and land degradation on risk and agricultural productivity in less favoured production environments of a developing agricultural economy. Drawing production data from household and plot surveys conducted in the highlands of Ethiopia, we estimate a stochastic production function to evaluate the effects of variety richness, land degradation, and their interaction on the mean and the variance of wheat yield.
Ethiopia is a centre of diversity for durum wheat and farmers manage complex variety mixtures on multiple plots. Econometric evidence shows that variety richness increases productivity and reduces yield variability, while land degradation augments exposure to risk. Simulations with estimated parameters illustrate how farmers mitigate the adverse effects of land degradation on wheat productivity and risk exposure by planting more diverse durum wheat varieties on multiple plots.

Keywords: Wheat genetic diversity; production risk; land degradation; facilitation; Ethiopia

Salvatore Di Falco
CSERGE School of Environmental Sciences University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ United Kingdom
Jean-Paul Chavas
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Taylor Hall, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Melinda Smale International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 2033 K Street, NW Washington, DC, 20006 - 1002, USA