Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies – NYTimes.com

Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies

Climate change will pose sharp risks to the world’s food supply in coming decades, potentially undermining crop production and driving up prices at a time when the demand for food is expected to soar, scientists have found.

In a departure from an earlier assessment, the scientists concluded that rising temperatures will have some beneficial effects on crops in some places, but that globally they will make it harder for crops to thrive — perhaps reducing production over all by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century, compared with what it would be without climate change.

And, the scientists say, they are already seeing the harmful effects in some regions.

The warnings come in a leaked draft of a report under development by a United Nations panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The document is not final and could change before it is released in March.

The report also finds other sweeping impacts from climate change already occurring across the planet, and warns that these are likely to intensify as human emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise. The scientists describe a natural world in turmoil as plants and animals colonize new areas to escape rising temperatures, and warn that many could become extinct.

The warning on the food supply is the sharpest in tone the panel has issued. Its previous report, in 2007, was more hopeful. While it did warn of risks and potential losses in output, particularly in the tropics, that report found that gains in production at higher latitudes would most likely offset the losses and ensure an adequate global supply.

The new tone reflects a large body of research in recent years that has shown how sensitive crops appear to be to heat waves. The recent work also challenges previous assumptions about how much food production could increase in coming decades because of higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The gas, though it is the main reason for global warming, also acts as a kind of fertilizer for plants.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the principal scientific body charged with reviewing and assessing climate science, then issuing reports about the risks to the world’s governments. Its main reports come out every five to six years. The group won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Al Gore, in 2007 for its efforts.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent every year to reduce emissions in response to past findings from the group, though many analysts have said these efforts are so far inadequate to head off drastic climatic changes later in the century.

On the food supply, the new report finds that benefits from global warming may be seen in some areas, like northern lands that are now marginal for food production. But it adds that over all, global warming could reduce agricultural production by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century.

During that period, demand is expected to rise as much as 14 percent each decade, the report found, as the world population is projected to grow to 9.6 billion in 2050, from 7.2 billion today, according to the United Nations, and as many of those people in developing countries acquire the money to eat richer diets.

Any shortfall would lead to rising food prices that would hit the world’s poor hardest, as has already occurred from price increases of recent years. Research has found that climate change, particularly severe heat waves, was a factor in those price spikes.

The agricultural risks “are greatest for tropical countries, given projected impacts that exceed adaptive capacity and higher poverty rates compared with temperate regions,” the draft report finds.

If the report proves to be correct about the effect on crops from climate change, global food demand might have to be met — if it can be met — by putting new land into production. That could entail chopping down large areas of forest, an action that would only accelerate climate change by sending substantial amounts of carbon dioxide into the air from the destruction of trees.

The report finds that efforts to adapt to climate change have already begun in many countries. President Obama signed an executive order on Friday to step up such efforts in the United States. But these efforts remain inadequate compared with the risks, the report says, and far more intensive — and expensive — adaptation plans are likely to be required in the future.

The document also finds that it is not too late for cuts in emissions to have a strong impact on the future risks of climate change, though the costs would be incurred in the next few decades and the main benefits would probably be seen in the late 21st century and beyond.

The leak of the new draft occurred on a blog hostile to the intergovernmental panel. In a brief interview, a spokesman for the panel, Jonathan Lynn, did not dispute the authenticity of the document.

“It’s a work in progress,” Mr. Lynn said. “It’s likely to change.”

Several scientists involved in drafting the document declined on Friday to speak publicly about it. In the Internet era, the group’s efforts to keep its drafts secret are proving to be a failure, and some of the scientists involved have called for a drafting process open to the public.

A report about the physical science of climate change leaked in August, then underwent only modest changes before its final release in Stockholm in late September. The new report covers the impact of climate change, efforts to adapt to it, and the vulnerability of human and natural systems.

[tagged Climate Change]

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4 seasonal vegetables to eat now -MNN

4 seasonal vegetables to eat now

Brussels Sprouts, Pumpkins, Kale, and Cabbage
I enjoy eating seasonal produce because, to me, it just feels right. When the weather cools down, my body starts craving more savory, fiber-filled meals.
But I also like eating seasonal produce because I know it can be grown locally. Some of the biggest benefits to eating local food are that it is usually picked when it’s ripe (or almost ripe), and spends little time in transit. If you live near a farm, you may even get to go pick your own. Lucky you!

Depending on where you live, your local seasonal produce may vary. But in much of the country, we’re about to enjoy some of fall’s most savory treats. And, it gets better. Each of these fall favorites has its own unique nutritional profile that will contribute to your health in various ways.

Pumpkin: Just one cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin will deliver more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Pumpkins are rich in beta carotene (which is where they get that beautiful orange color), and the body converts beta carotene to vitamin A.
A 2007 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggested that eating pumpkin may help control glucose levels, and reduce hypertension.
Brussels Sprouts: Not every one loves Brussels sprouts, but if you do, now’s the time to enjoy them. Just one cup of this cruciferous vegetable contains nearly 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K, and over 100 percent of your daily value of vitamin C. This food is also rich in manganese, fiber and B vitamins, including folate.
Kale: Kale’s popularity seems to have surged in recent years, but don’t let the fact that it seems trendy keep you away from enjoying this super food. It’s high in fiber, iron and vitamins A and C. Kale has zero fat, and it’s loaded with antioxidants.

Kale and other brassica vegetables, including cabbage and Brussels sprouts, may also help reduce cancer risk. A 1996 study in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that a high consumption of these veggies was associated with a decreased risk of cancer.

[tag 4 Seasonal Vegetables]

5 foods that would be affected by the trans fat ban | MNN – Mother Nature Network

5 foods that would be affected by the trans fat ban

Fresh baked cookies
The Food and Drug Administration’s announcement today (Nov. 7) that trans fats could be phased out means that some popular food products may need to be reformulated in the future to comply with the law.
The FDA said it has taken steps to move trans fat out of its current category of food ingredients that are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). If trans fat are not GRAS, they would become illegal food additives, unless food companies can prove that they are not harmful to health, which would be a challenge, Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, told the New York Times.

Before the decision is finalized, the FDA is seeking public comment for 60 days to hear from the food industry and other experts to determine how long it would take food manufacturers to phase out trans fats, and how the change would impact small businesses.

Trans fats are produced when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid, and companies began adding the ingredient to processed food in the 1950s to lengthen the shelf-life and flavor stability of their products, the FDA said. [3 Tips for Eating Less Trans Fat]
Since 2006, food companies have been required to list trans fat on their labels, a law that pressured many manufactures to reduce trans fat in their products. In fact, the average American today consumes about 1 gram of trans fat daily, down from 4.6 grams in 2003, according to the FDA. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that people keep trans fat consumption as low as possible.

However, trans fats can still be found in some processed foods, and is listed on the ingredients label as partially hydrogenated oil. Here’s a list of some popular trans fat holdouts that may be affected by the FDA proposal:

According to a recent study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, declines in trans fat in microwave popcorn have been particularly slow compared to some other food products. In 2011, popcorn products had an average of nearly 4 grams of trans fat per serving, the study found.

Some popcorn brands have eliminated trans fat, but others still contain up to 5 grams of trans fat per serving, according to the Centers for Science in the Public Interest.

Cookies and crackers:

Still, Tallmadge noted “a lot of trans fats are out of the marketplace,” thanks to the requirement that trans fat be listed on food labels.

Refrigerated dough, like cookie and biscuit dough, and ready-made pie crust can make dessert-making easy, but consumers should be wary of trans fat in the products. Some brands of refrigerated dough and ready-made pie crusts or mixes can contain between 2 and 3 grams of trans fat, according to the CSPI.

Trans fat in margarines has also declined slowly in recent years, according to the Preventing Chronic Disease study. The study found that margarine and spread products contained, on average, about 2 grams of trans fat per serving in 2011.

Some coffee creamers contain trans fat, according to the FDA. In a 2008 study by CSPI, some coffee creamers were found to have between 0.1 and 0.7 grams of trans fat.

Products that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat can be labeled as containing 0 grams, the FDA says. So consumers should look at ingredient labels and try to avoid creamers that list partially hydrogenated soy or canola oil, the CSPI

This story was originally written for LiveScience and has been republished with permission here. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company.