European Union proposals could make it easier for countries to grow GM crops
The European Union tackled deep divisions on genetically modified (GM) crops on Wednesday by striking a compromise pact that is likely to make it easier for them to win approval while allowing some countries to ban them. GM crops, although widely grown in the Americas and Asia, have divided opinion in Europe with strong opposition in many countries including France and Germany.
Yahoo! News (28 May 2014)
EU member states will have the right to refuse GM crops Phys.Org (28 May 2014)
Emma Hockridge, Soil Association head of policy commented: “These draft EU proposals suit the majority of European countries, including Scotland and Wales, that want to ban all GM crops, but they are bad news for countries like England where our pro-GM government wants to impose GM crops if suitable varieties ever become available. Even for countries that oppose all GM crops, there are risks, as the current draft puts a large amount of power about bans in the hands of the GM companies.”
The Soil Association campaigns against GM

New farming research initiative launched
A new research initiative called Sustainable Agriculture Research & Innovation Club (SARIC) has been launched by Research Councils The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Responsible for allocating the UK’s R&D funding, the initiative promises to support projects that will help provide solutions to key challenges affecting the sustainability of the UK crop and livestock sectors. However the Soil Association’s director of innovation, Tom Macmillan has questioned the potential big gaps in the research. He commented: “It’s great that the research councils are working to make sure research addresses practical challenges. However, the big gap is in research to help working farmers find effective, low cost solutions to the challenges they face. We’re piloting farmer-led ‘field labs’ and other grassroots approaches to innovation through our Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme, giving farmers a direct say in research decisions.”
Farming Online (28 May 2014)
Find out more about the Soil Association and the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme’s Field Labs

Corporate stranglehold of farmland a risk to world food security
The world’s food supplies are at risk because farmland is becoming rapidly concentrated in the hands of wealthy elites and corporations, a study carried out by international land-use group Grain has found. The report – Hungry for land: small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland – highlights the positives of small farms in production and biodiversity.
The Guardian (29 May 2014)
Learn more about the benefits of organic farming

Organic farming could sequester all carbon emissions
Organic farming practices could sequester more than 100% of our current carbon emissions, according to research from the Rodale Institute.
Environmental leader (27 May 2014)
Learn more about the benefits of organic farming and the Soil Association’s Low Carbon Farming Project

Farming Today
Farming Today presenter Caz Graham speaks to the man co-ordinating NASA’s programme to grow salads on the International Space Station, and the drive to interest children in a farming career, at the Suffolk County Show.
BBC Radio 4 (29 May 2014)


Supermarket to offer bags of tomatoes either fallen naturally or misshapen as a drive to cut waste of edible food
Waitrose is to sell a mixed pack of tomatoes that have either naturally fallen off the vine or are misshapen, as part of its ongoing drive to discard less edible food.
The Guardian (29 May 2014)
Read the Soil Association’s blogs on food waste

Gold Food for Life Catering Mark nursery Snapdragons to create 30 jobs
Snapdragons nursery is expanding into Bristol by opening a new site and creating 30 new jobs. The chain prides itself on good food for children, and holds a Food for Life Gold Catering Mark from the Soil Association for its nutritious, seasonal food using ethically sourced, locally-produced food. It plans to continue this approach at the new Horfield nursery.
The Bristol Post (28 May 2014)
Find out more about the Soil Association’s Food for Life Partnership and Food for Life Catering Mark


Start-up diary: German export opportunities abound
Soil Association licensee Jeremy Carson, founder of 100bodycare discusses expanding his business into the German market, following an approach by a German retailer at a London Planet Organic store where he was demonstrating his products.
The Daily Telegraph (19 May 2014)
Find out more about the organic market in the Soil Association’s 2014 Organic Market Report


Kim Stoddart: gardening for free – for ever
Having survived without her regular fix at the garden centre for a year now, writer and thrifty gardener Kim Stoddart shares her thrifty tips and talks about the rewards of seed saving. Kim is also working on a series of short films with the Soil Association on seed saving which will be shown on her Guardian blog in the coming months.
The Guardian (26 May 2014)
The Soil Association is campaigning to Save our Seeds. Find out more.

New roots: how social enterprises are disrupting the food system
Journalist Ilana Taub discusses how our relationship with food is unsustainable. However an ever-growing number of social enterprises are rising to the task of making the food system more sustainable, ecologically resilient and socially just.
The Guardian (22 May 2014)

Inside the looming food crises
Journalist Dennis Dimick discusses the potential food crises looming, and whether there will be enough food in the future. He writes: Last week in Washington, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which for years has been immersed in questions about food and its supply, gathered to discuss solutions to what its members see as an emerging food crisis.
National Geographic (22 May 2014)
Read more about how organic farming can help feed the world

Is the cause of global warming underground?
Soil buried deep underground that formed on Earth’s surface thousounds of years ago has been found to be rich in carbon. The subsurface features of vanished landscapes add a new dimension to our planet’s carbon cycle. And continued activities by humans could unleash more of this carbon into the atmosphere, a study reported in the journal Nature Geoscience claims.
The Daily Mail (26 May 2014)


UK among worst in Western Europe for level of overweight and obese people
The UK has higher levels of obesity and overweight people than anywhere in Western Europe except for Iceland and Malta, according to the Global Burden of Disease study, published in the Lancet medical journal. The study raises fresh concerns about the likely health consequences.
The Guardian (29 May 2014)
Find out more about the Food for Life Partnership a network of schools and communities across England committed to transforming food culture. Together they are revolutionising school meals, reconnecting children and young people with where their food comes from, and inspiring families to grow and cook food.

A third of children eat junk food every day
Parents spend on average £26 a month feeding their children fast food, pizza and burgers a survey by website Voucher Codes Pro has found. The survey found more than a third of children under the age of 10 are eating junk food every day.
The Daily Mail (27 May 2014)

And finally…photo of the day
National Geographic (28 May 2014)