- Signatures of positive selection in African Butana and Kenana dairy zebu cattle. Cattle breeds from marginal environments show signs of selection in genome regions associated with adaptation to marginal environments.
- The extent and predictability of the biodiversity–carbon correlation. Co-benefits in about 20% of tropical regions.
- Consistent effects of biodiversity loss on multifunctionality across contrasting ecosystems. Losing biodiversity has different effects on individual functions across ecosystems, but consistent effects on the overall impact on functionality. If you see what I mean.
- Cassava bread in Nigeria: the potential of ‘orphan crop’ innovation for building more resilient food systems. The end of the value chain is the important bit.
- Scaling up: A guide to high throughput genomic approaches for biodiversity analysis. Will probably need to be revised next year.
- Speed breeding is a powerful tool to accelerate crop research and breeding. Shuttle breeding on steroids.
- A roadmap for breeding orphan leafy vegetable species: a case study of Gynandropsis gynandra (Cleomaceae). Could do with some high-throughput speed breeding focused on the end of the value chain. How’s that for a coincidence (see 3 entries above)?
- Impact of Crop Diversification on Rural Poverty in Nepal. Growing high-value vegetables can help. Is Cleome high enough value, I wonder, not for the first time?
- Planning for food security in a changing climate. Actually it starts with envisioning new crop management systems, then comes breeding (see entry above).
- A global map of travel time to cities to assess inequalities in accessibility in 2015. Over 10 years in the making, I’m told. Let the mashups begin.
- An assessment of threats to terrestrial protected areas. Number of threats increases with accessibility. Somebody mention mashups?
- Self-medication by orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus) using bioactive properties of Dracaena cantleyi. External application as anti-inflammatory done by both orangutans and local indigenous human populations.
- Yield effects of rust-resistant wheat varieties in Ethiopia. Improved resistant varieties are better, except under abiotic stress, which is why farmers are going back to traditional varieties. But are they comparing apples and oranges (as it were)?
- Mongolians nuts for pine nuts.
- Indians increasingly nuts for heirloom rices.
- Tea: a tale of two words.
- Wait, Mongabay does podcasts now?
- DfID backs sustainable supply chains. But is diversity considered?
- The origins of cryo.
- Student saves apple. Species, that is.
- Scurvy was not all bad? Who needs fruit.
- Development thinkers pithily skewered.
- CGN’s new brochure.
- Fijian farmers dealing with climate change with diverse, triple-layered systems, and small, phased, staggered planting. Or, common sense.
- Brexit will mean less choice of seeds for British farmers. Maybe.
- £3 for a coconut? Nuts.
- Dealing with seed dealers to speed up new rice variety delivery.
- How about the heirlooms, though? Maybe they can take care of themselves.
- The value of biodiversity is a known unknown.
- Forage quality is known, and decreasing.
- Did you miss us? Well, we’re making up for lost time today. Buckle up.
- Seafaring mangoes.
- India to help PNG get (another?) genebank.
- Somebody mention taro? The Chinese are coming.
- Strawberries for Christmas.
- Handheld genotyping. Brave new world.
- All the sheep in the world.
- Trees > lungs.
- Pink pineapple. Yeah, why not.
- Tuscan olives are Etruscan.
- Wonder if they’ll survive.
- Fermentation never went away.
- Case in point #1: pulque.
- Which is a cousin of mezcal.
- Case in point #2: cheese.
- Of which this is the most expensive, apparently.
- 2018 is the year of italian food, according to italians.
- Maybe they’ll use this infographic to advertize it.
- The transatlantic history of a mainstay of italian cooking, the tomato.
- Which looks really diverse in the Canaries too.
- “Food spy” is a bit harsh on Fairchild.
- Wonder if he ever collected vanilla.
- Or potatoes.
- Hero is about right for Segenet.
Legalized marijuana is going the way of all agricultural commodities in the United States, and that shouldn’t be a surprise. A really interesting analysis by 538 reveals that the price of pot has dropped for grower and dope fiend alike, and with big money at stake — $6.7 billion this past year and $20 billion the dream for 2021 — big money is very interested. The market, according to 538:
increasingly favors big businesses with deep pockets. As legal weed keeps expanding, pot prices are likely to continue to decline, making the odds of running a profitable small pot farm even longer.
There’s a lot more detail in 538’s piece, all of which I found fascinating. In so many respects, marijuana is a mirror of food. Capital makes it possible to produce the stuff for less (not counting externalities), so that even within limits on the size of pot farms, bigger operations dominate.
From January through September of this year [i.e. 2017], the 10 largest farms in Washington [state] harvested 16.79 percent of all the dry weight weed grown in the state, which is more than the share produced by the 500 smallest farms combined (13.12 percent).
Then there’s the diversification of the product itself. Not so long ago there was basically dried marijuana flowers, which when Washington state legalized the market in mid-2014 made up almost 95% of sales. Now buyers face a paralysing choice of different products, from the stuff you put in e-cigarettes to a wide range of sweets and snacks — with bud currently less than 55% of the market.
The manufacturers of marijuana goodies need expensive equipment to extract the good stuff and then make things from it, adding to the expense of the operation. It’s an inevitable echo of overstuffed supermarket aisles that feature more food-like products than you can possibly imagine utterly dominating a small area dedicated to ingredients from which one can make food.
Pot manufacturers are both adding value and trying to create products that can be distinguished from one another and thus, perhaps, command a price premium. There’s concentration in this sector too. More than 1000 companies are licensed to produce cannabis edibles, but the top five accounted for just over half of the Washington state market and the top 20 for more than 90%.
All this could easily have been foreseen, and was, by people who have studied the development of the food industry. One concomitant that they have not noted, yet, is the loss of biodiversity. Underground plant breeding, sometimes literally, fuelled the modern marijuana industry with a rainbow cornucopia of exotically named varieties, each touting specific traits of interest to consumers in addition to the enhanced productivity that growers want. And as long as the market was supplied by small growers, that diversity was readily available and often regionally distinct. With the concentration now happening in the industry, how long before there are only a handful of different strains, offering just a few different highs?
And once that has happened, how long before the small growers show up at farmers markets, touting their heritage, organic, sustainable varieties of pot? Except, of course, that most modern pot varieties are F1 hybrids designed to produce only female plants, often grown hydroponically. Is that acceptable?
Happy New Year
Cross posted from the mothership.