Not sure whether this is a good thing or not. On Friday, the Chinese government released a series of documents dealing with biofuels. According to Biopact, a blog, one paper says that “Through a series of measures, unused land in mountainous areas will be made available and utilized for planting biofuel feedstocks, mainly sweet sorghum, corn and sweet potato”.
On second thoughts, it is probably not a good thing.
Since we’re talking about blogs, here’s another great one: Agricultural Information News from IAALD, maintained by Peter Ballantyne. IAALD is the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists. Not specifically about agrobiodiversity, but many of the postings will be very relevant. Here’s an example. Peter links to an article inÂ the People’s Daily Online about how Chinese farmers are signing up to receive sound and text messages on their phones and are also visitingÂ a new web site, all to receive – and also to give out – advice, technical guidance and production information. No reason why that shouldn’t include information about new varieties, threats to genetic diversity, new ways to promote local crops etc., is there?
And here’s another fun blog which the one mentioned in the previous post alerted me to. “The Barcode Blog” is “about short DNA sequences for species identification and discovery.” It’s been going for a couple of years but a quick search revealed only one agriculture-related posting, which had to do with the use of barcoding to identify pests and invasives. But I suspect that will change.
I’ve just come across a blog maintained by Kathryn Garforth, a research fellow with the International Sustainable Biodiversity Law programme of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) who describes herself as “an independent legal researcher and consultant working in the areas of biodiversity, health and intellectual property rights.” Recent postings deal with the Starbucks Ethiopian coffee kerfuffle, biofuels and the Indian Biodiversity Act. Some very thoughtful stuff.
Food manufacturers in Rajasthan, India, have created an ice cream made of camels’ milk. At a recent tasting, an Italian, no less, apparently described it as “an absolutely delicious desert treat”. Tommaso Sbriccoli, said it “compared favourably with the gelato-frozen desert in his home country” according to Daily India.
The serious point to all this is that there has actually been remarkably little selection for milk production in camels. That means an enormous diversity in how much herders can get from a female. I remember visiting a researcher in a desert country who was trying to improve matters, because a small decrease in the variation in milk production would make an enormous difference to the amount of milk poor nomads could get from their beasts. That idea crops up again from time to time but I’ve no idea whether any great progress has been made. Do you know?