Conocarpus is Destroying Plant Biodiversity of Our Big Cities

Conocarpus is recently introduced much famous lush green plant. Its botanical name is Conocarpus erectus which belongs to family compretaceae. It is a fast-growing medium size tree. It can be trimmed to shrubs. It can be shaped in various shapes so vital role in topiary work. It is It is becoming most popular in big cities i.e. Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad etc. of Pakistan. This tree is not native to our area.

[ads-quote-center cite=’*UOS, Horticulture; **Horticulture, UAF’]Mujahid Ali*, Hafiz Muhammad Kashif**[/ads-quote-center]

It is recently introduced in our landscape but has captured area within no time. It is among the most fast-growing plant having countless properties making it the most valuable plant. It is fit in all places due to its hidden resistant mechanism to salinity, heat, cold, waterlogging and drought etc. It can tolerate salt-affected soils, water shortage, hard soils, smoky areas, and waterlogging conditions. It is best known for its growth where other such plants fail to grow. It can grow along and between traffic roads. It has a very positive and clearing effect in the environment. It is facilitating to keep balance and stabilizing temperatures, enhance photosynthesis, reduce noise pollution, and holds off dust.

It is destroying our biodiversity in big cities due to its characteristics of growing every kind of environment and each type of soil. It is an exotic plant but replacing every plant threatening our landscape to monoculture rather than multicultural landscape. It also influences the growth of other plants in the vicinity of its root. It has health hazard effects too which has been observed and becoming ban in various countries of the world. For example, it was brought to Kuwait in 1988 which gained much popularity but now it is ban there. One of the main objective of growth of plants is to reduce the CO2 level in the air. It is research out and reported that it is consuming very less amount of CO2 as compared to others. So, if it is not fulfilling its main requirement it is of no use. In gulf countries, it is ban in the landscape as its fast and hard growing roots are breaking underground pipes. Its fast-growing nature of roots is harmful to the base of buildings.

Finally, it is stated that we should avoid its misuse. Government landscape agencies should uproot extra conocarpus plants and plant other plants suitable to that environment. Avoid growing where there are underground pipes and near buildings. Avoid its excessive plantation and diversify our environment.

Nutritional Importance of Citrus

Nutritional Importance of Citrus: Citrus is a very valuable plant with a diverse group of species and its fruit is liked all around the world. Pakistan is a big producer of citrus, especially kinnow. Every kind of age peoples are like its fruit variety and use fresh and in processing industry mainly as juice.

[ads-quote-center cite=’2018-07-28 Department of Horticulture, UOS’]H. M. Bilal, Mujahid Ali, Rohoma Tahir[/ads-quote-center]

Botanically citrus is a genus of flowering trees and shrubs in the family Rutaceae. Plants in this genus produce citrus fruits including vital types of crops such as lime, lemon, kinnow (mandarins), grapefruit, poemlo, oranges (blood red) etc.


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Citrus plants are native to subtropical and tropical regions of Asia and the Malay Archipelago and they were first domesticated in these areas.

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Citrus are basically large, fleshy, juicy, acidic, and good source of vitamin C. Moreover, citrus does not only contain a large amount of vitamin C but also a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin A, and potassium. Citrus has become an important agricultural product in the Mediterranean Sea, Mexico, and South America. Citrus also contains ascorbic acid which is considered good food for health. One of the best characteristics of the citrus that it has been considered best choices for weight loss program. Generally, citrus fruits are incredible fruits that add additional value to a nutritious diet. Citrus fruits are value able fruits, so we can consume it to overcome micronutrient deficiencies because most people are suffering from obesity and diet-related chronic diseases. Firstly, the citrus fruits wastage was ponded or flushed into the stream, lakes etc. but now the waste is converted into the useful product such as pectin manufacturing, extraction of oil, dried pulp etc. Hence the citrus has been ranked the 2nd worldwide first in Pakistan W.R.T. to its area and production among fruits. Citrus fruits have been long valued for a nutritious diet. The main energy nutrient in citrus is carbohydrate. Fructose, Glucose etc. Citrus fruits contain non-starch polysaccharides (NSP), which is complex with important health benefits. In the body, this polysaccharide holds water-soluble nutrient in a gel which delays emptying and slow digestion and absorption. Potassium also works to maintain the body`s water and acid balance. Some of the nutritional facts about citrus are such as the weight of orange is about (131g), Energy (62kcal), Fiber content (3.1g), Ascorbic acid (70 mg), Folate (40 mcg), Potassium (237). Citrus food may help to reduce the risk of several diseases and disorder such as heart diseases, stroke, cancer, and anemia. Citrus is a good source of fiber, so women should consume of fiber (25 gram) per day and tangerine (1.6 gram) per day. Citrus fruits are hydrating as they contain high water content. Citrus also contains flavonoid plant compound that may promote health. Citrus fruits are used in fruit industry mainly as a gelling agent, thickening agent, and stabilizer. As medicinal values citrus fruits have great importance i.e. against constipation. Diarrhea, Anti-stress, Gastrointestinal problems. Also, in cosmetics products i.e. food flavoring, fragrances in perfume or in the scent industry. People like its fragrance. Also used as insecticides due to the presence of enantiomer. As it is combustible it considers as biofuel. More ever the great benefit of citrus peel has been used in making candies. Dried citrus peel is used in making black tea and simply our home-made tea. Citrus can also enhance meat dishes by putting them in a cavity of the whole chicken before roasting. Moreover, citrus infused vodka being used for an excellent cocktail. Further peels throw in the kindling for making an especially fragrant fire.

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Proceeds from the production or by-products may spell the difference between profit and loss in the citrus canning industry. The three primary by-products of citrus are dried citrus pulp, molasses, and citrus peel oil. The most important utilization of citrus wastes is as stock feed, which consumes large quantities of dried pulp and citrus molasses. Citrus seed oil, alcohol, pectin, bland syrup, and feed yeast have been produced to a lesser extent.

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The term citrus by-product includes numerous by-product feedstuffs which vary according to the originating crop and method of production, that are an important component of ruminant feeding systems in many areas of the world. Citrus fruits are mainly eaten fresh fruit and in processed form as juice. After the juice is extracted from the fruit, there remains a residue comprised of peel (flavedo and albedo), pulp (juice sac residue), rag (membranes and cores) and seeds. These components, either individually or in various combinations, are the source materials from which citrus by-product feedstuffs (BPF) are produced. In India total availability of grape and orange waste is about 2.20 million tonnes.

The fresh citrus pulp waste is palatable to cattle when they are accustomed to the feed and a mature cow can consume about 10 kg per day. Dried citrus pulp has been used as the main energy source for beef cattle and heifers, and up to 45 percent has been used in rations. However, the pulp should not be used at high levels for milking cows as milk production tends to decrease. Digestibility trials with sheep show that its digestibility decreases when the citrus pulp is included at levels more than 30 percent of the ration. It is more advantageous to mix the fresh pulp with partially dried grass or with legumes which cannot be successfully ensiled on their own. To produce seedless or less seeded kinnow and other citrus fruits is a great challenge. Many seeds in kinnow and related types is the main hindrance for Pakistan export.

Kharif vegetables of Pakistan

This is complete list of kharif vegetables growing in Pakistan with sowing date, transplantation date, fertilizers requirements and harvesting time.

AGRONOMIC PACKAGES OF KHARIF VEGETABLES

Sr. No.

Name of vegetable

Sowing time

Transpla- nting  Time.

Seed rate

(Kg)

Spacing

FYM Tons

Fertilizer

Delta of water

Marketing

R x R

 P x P

N

P

K

1.

Watermelon

Feb-March

June-July

1.0

1.0

Both sides 3m.beds

 

50 cm

10-15

*25

**25

27

0

0

0

30

May – June

Sept. – Oct.

2

Muskmelon

Feb-March

June-July

1.5

1.5

Both sides 2.5m.beds

 

45 cm

10-15

*25

**25

27

0

25

0

30

May – June

Sept. – Oct.

3

Bitter gourd

March – April

June – July

3.5

3.5

Both sides 2.5m.beds

 

30 cm

10-15

*16

**16

27

0

0

0

30

May – June

Aug.–Oct.

4

Bottle gourd

Feb. – March

 

 

June – July

 

 

October

 

 

2.0

 

 

2.0

 

 

2.0

Both sides 2.5m.beds

Both sides 3.0m.beds

Both sides 2.5m.beds

60 cm

 

 

70 cm

 

 

70 cm

10-15

 

 

 

 

*16

**16

-do-

 

 

-do-

27

0

-do-

 

 

-do-

0

0

-do-

 

 

-do-

30

 

 

 

May – June

 

Aug.–Oct.

 

 

March – May

5

Vegetabe Marrow

Jan. – Feb.

 

 

November

 

 

2.0

 

 

2.0

Both sides 1.5m.beds

Both sdes 1.5m.beds

Both sides

45 cm

 

 

45cm

 

 

10-15

 

 

 

 

*16

**16

-do-

 

 

27

0

-do-

 

0

0

-do-

 

30

 

 

 

April

 

March

6

Sponge gourd

Marc – April

 

June – July

 

1.5

 

 

Both sides 3 m.beds

-do-

70 cm

 

 

10-15

 

 

*16

**16

-do-

27

0

-do-

0

0

-do-

30

 

June – Aug.

 

Aug. – Oct.

7.

Long Melon

Feb.- March

1.0

-do-

30 cm

10-15

*16

**16

27

0

0

0

30

30

April-May

8.

Cucumber

Feb.- March

1.0-1.5

Both sides 2.5m beds

30 cm

10-15

*16

**16

27

0

0

0

30

30

April-May

9

Tinda gourd

March –April

 

June- July

1.5

 

Both sides 2 m beds

-DO-

45 cm

 

10-15

 

*16

**16

27

0

0

0

30

 

30

April-June

 

Aug. –Oct.

10

Okra

Feb. – March

 

June- July

 

10.0

 

8.0

Both side 75 cm Ridges

-do-

20 cm

 

10-15

 

*16

**16

27

0

0

0

21

 

-do-

April-May

 

Sep.- Oct.

11

Chillies

Oct.- Nov.

 

February

Feb.

 

April

0.5

 

-do-

75 cm

 

45 cm

 

15-20

 

*25

**25

 

27

0

25

0

54

 

May – Sep.

 

June- Nov.

12

Brinjal

Nov.

 

Feb.

200-250gm

1 m

50 cm

12-15

*25

**25

27

0

0

0

42

April-June

Feb.

April

June-Sep

June

Aug.

Sep. –Dec.

13

Turmeric

March- April

600-700kg

50 cm

20 cm

20-25

*26

**26

27

0

0

0

72

Feb. – April

14

Arum

Feb. – March

800-900kg

60 cm

15 cm

20-25

*26

**26

36

0

0

0

60

Aug.

15

Sweet Potato

Feb.- march

14000 cutting

 

Both sides 1 m beds

30 cm

*9

23

0

36

July –Aug.

June –July

Nov. Dec.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*        Before sowing

**      After one month

Moringa -A precious tree crop

Every plant has useful characteristics which Allah has inserted in it. Some tree crops are of much value because its every part (leaves, stem, seeds, roots) has equal worth and moringa is among those plants. In science, it is called Moringa oleifera.  

[ads_row][ads_col col=”cell”]Authors[/ads_col][ads_col col=”cell”]Mujahid Ali, Dr. Zahoor Hussain (Horticulture, UOS)[/ads_col][/ads_row]

In Urdu, it is called Sohanjna. It belongs to family Moringaceae.  Its origin is reported in Indo-Pak regions. It is used as a vegetable. Moringa plant has extraordinary uses in herbal medicine and in allelopathy. This plant is used for centuries due to its nutritional aspects. Himalayan region is famous for its wild cultivation. It is settled in tropical and subtropical areas in the word.

Now comes towards it propagation. It is propagated both sexually and asexually. By asexual propagation, it means stem cuttings are used for propagation purpose so mature stems or branches are used. There are different steps i.e., initially, we take a mature stem or branch of about six feet long and two inches thick.  Then insert two third part of cutting in soil, sand and compost preferably green manure and affirm the cutting from the base to avoid shaking. Provide proper moisture conditions. There is another way that through sexual propagation means through seeds. One of the advantages of seed is that naturally, it has no dormancy. We can sow it nursery and trays can also be used. Its seed germination is up to 90-100 percent. For moringa cultivation light sandy loam and well-drained soils are considered best. Waterlogging and high rainfall are dangerous for it.

Let’s move towards its health benefits. Moringa seed oils are beneficial for our skin and hair growth. This oil has agents for detoxify free radicals and have the hydrating ability for skin and hair. Its oil has protein contents that make it more beneficial. It is helpful in treating skin infection sores.

For curing edema is always being a problem when fluids rise in some tissues. Due to its anti-inflammatory characteristics, it is helpful in this regard. The liver is our sensitive internal organ in the body. Its protection and repair against anti-tubercular drugs are giving moringa a pride.

Moringa has found its importance in the treatment of cancer as it has a compound named niazimicin a precious chemical in checking cancer cells from further damage. There are various stomach disorders which our body face. Extracts of moringa is found useful in curing constipation gastritis, and ulcerative colitis. It has the capability to destroy numerous pathogens and have a sufficient amount of vitamin B.

Our body is always facing complaints of bacterial and fungal diseases. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties to cope with it. Some elements like Ca and P are responsible for bone health.  Moringa plants have rich in these elements making bone strong and curing arthritis.

Moringa is useful in controlling some of our mood characters or feeling like depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Moringa contains such antioxidants which give heart protection from damage and maintain our cardiovascular system. It helps to heal and save to make scars sign at a spot of wounds.

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Moringa use has shown to reduce glucose level in the blood making it useful for diabetic’s patients and give urine a normal condition. Enhance hemoglobin and protein level in the body.

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Its extract is very supportive in treating asthma and save our bronchial construction. It has very low fat and cholesterol making it safe for our health. Moringa has anti-fertility qualities and is, therefore, avoid its use by pregnant women. There have been very rare side effects stated. So, we should consult it in severe conditions and use it according to doctor advice.

Due to unique chemistry of compounds in the extract of moringa, it is popular in horticulture as medicinal and vegetable, agronomy and forestry. The government should encourage its cultivation and conduct seminars for its public awareness.

Feeding the growth of the food and beverage industry

[tds_info]Feeding the growth of the food and beverage industry: The UK food and drink industry faces challenges that will reshape the future of a sector which is fundamental to the economy[/tds_info]

 

The development of the UK’s food system since the Second World War is in many ways a story of unqualified success. Policies in the post-war decades to increase production and liberalise trade have meant the vast majority of the population can access high-quality, low-cost and safe food at a time and a place that suits them. 

[tds_council]In the process, the sector has developed into a key pillar of the UK’s economy. Food and drink is the country’s largest manufacturing sector accounting for 16 per cent of total manufacturing turnover and providing employment for more than 400,000 people, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).[/tds_council]

The food industry is seen as having huge potential for future growth. The FDF is five years into a plan to grow the manufacturing sector by 20 per cent up to 2020, while analysts at IGD forecast the UK grocery retail market will reach £203 billion by 2019, up more than 16 per cent from 2014. 

UNPRECEDENTED CHANGE

Perhaps more than in any other post-war era, the past ten years have seen a fundamental reshaping of the food industry as changes in consumer demand, the rapid adoption of new technologies, and emerging social and environmental challenges have placed fresh demands on businesses operating across the entire supply chain. 

These changes have arguably been felt most acutely in the retail sector where the growth of online shopping, in particular, has forced supermarkets to rethink business models built around large bricks-and-mortar estates. With IGD predicting online to be the fastest-growing grocery channel between 2014 and 2019, competition is set to remain fierce, even more so following the recent arrival of Amazon into the online grocery space. 

The hegemony of the big supermarkets has also been threatened by the emergence of discount grocers, most notably Aldi and Lidl, whose popularity has soared as consumers are attracted by their keen prices, tight ranges and good-quality produce. 

02 Rapid growth of discount grocers Lidl and Aldi have forced the Big Four supermarkets into an ongoing price war
Rapid growth of discount grocers Lidl and Aldi have forced the Big Four supermarkets into an ongoing price war

The growth of the discounters has resulted in the waging of a seemingly perpetual price war between UK grocery retailers that has had a knock-on effect along the supply chain with margins squeezed and even well-known brands facing the threat of delisting. 

A number of British manufacturers have sought to strengthen their balance sheets either through acquisitions or by inviting inward investment from countries such as China. Others have looked to spread their risk by building a successful export business with entrepreneurial companies such as Innocent, Dorset Cereals and Ella’s Kitchen enjoying growing demand for their products overseas. 

[ads-quote-center cite=’agrinfobank’]There has been consolidation too in the wholesale sector with major players like Booker acquiring smaller rivals in a bid to achieve greater economies of scale and provide better deals to independent retailers.[/ads-quote-center]

The indies have themselves responded to the rapid expansion into the convenience sector of the big supermarkets by widening their ranges and introducing in-store services such as parcel collection. 

The UK foodservice sector, meanwhile, is changing out of all recognition as disruptive players such as Just Eat and Deliveroo remove some of the barriers to eating out and in the process drive significant growth in the sector. 

how manufacturers feel about the future

FOOD PRODUCTION

Farmers continue to feel the pressure from volatile commodity prices, particularly in dairy, where British producers are increasingly exposed to global market forces. One response from farmers has been to develop their own added-value products thus allowing them to achieve a greater margin. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union means farmers face an even more uncertain future while they wait to learn how subsidy payments currently received from the EU will be replaced, if at all. 

In our dynamic, fast-growing food sector, a number of challenges have emerged that threaten the future sustainability of the food system. The relatively low cost of food has contributed to a situation where UK households throw away seven million tonnes of food every year, according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. Smarter packaging, which extends the shelf life of produce, offers one potential solution, but businesses agree that real progress on food waste will require collaborative action throughout the entire supply chain. 

[tds_warning]Consumption habits will need to change if we are to leave behind the legacy of a healthy, sustainable food system for future generations[/tds_warning]

A health time bomb has emerged in the form of the billion-plus people worldwide categorised as obese as a consequence of more sedentary lifestyles and a shift in Western diets towards more nutrient dense convenience foods. In the UK, the government considers the situation so serious it has set out plans to introduce a tax on sugary soft drinks to help curb consumption. 

where growth will come from

Awareness is also growing of the environmental impact of food production, with negative externalities ranging from the high greenhouse gas emissions involved in meat production to the effect on soil fertility of modern intensive farming methods. As well as technological fixes, such as the development of new precision farming methods aimed at maximising the use of scarce natural resources, there is a growing acknowledgment that consumption habits will need to change if we are to leave behind the legacy of a healthy, sustainable food system for future generations. 

All of this means that, both by design and by necessity, the food systems of the future will look very different from those of the past and the present. 

Companion plants for vegetable gardening

A Complete list of companion plants for vegetable gardening.

Common name Scientific name Helps Helped by Attracts
Alliums Allium Fruit trees, nightshades (tomatoes, capsicum peppers, potatoes), brassicas, carrots Carrots, tomatoes, carrots and African spider plants (Cleome gynandra) together, marigolds (Tagetesspp.), mints

 

 

 

Thrips
Asparagus Asparagus officinalis Tomatoes, parsley Aster family flowers, dill, coriander, tomatoes, parsley, basil,]comfrey, marigolds, nasturtiums Coupled with basil seems to encourage lady bugs
Beans, bush Phaseolus vulgaris Cucumber, soybeans,[ strawberries[ Celery, strawberries, grains  
Beans, pole Phaseolus vulgaris   Radishes, Corn  
Beans, fava Vicia faba   Strawberries, Celery  
Beets Beta vulgaris Broccoli,  bush beans, cabbage, lettuce, kohlrabi, onions, brassicas, passion fruit Bush beans, onions, kohlrabi, catnip, garlic, lettuce, most brassicas,  mint  
Brassicas Brassica Beets, onions, potatoes, cereals (e.g. corn, wheat)[ Beets, spinach, chard, Aromatic plants or plants with many blossoms, such as celery, chamomile, and marigolds. Dill, sage, peas, peppermint, spearmint, spurrey, rosemary, rye-grass,[  garlic, onions, and potatoes, geraniums, alliums, nasturtium, borage, hyssop, tansy,  tomatoes, thyme, wormwood, southernwood, beans, clover  
Broccoli Brassica oleracea Lettuce Mixture of mustard, pac choi, and rape. Beets, dill, lettuce, mustard, onions, tomato, turnip, clover  
Brussels sprouts Brassica oleracea   Sage, thyme, clover, malting barley  
Cabbage Brassica oleracea / Brassica chinensis Beans,  celery Beans, clover, calendula/pot marigold, chamomile, larkspur, nasturtiums, dill, coriander, hyssop, onions, beets,  marigolds, mint, rosemary,sage, thyme, tomatoes, lacy phacelia, Green onions with Chinese cabbage. Snails and slugs
Carrots Daucus carota Tomatoes, alliums, beans, leeks, lettuce, onions, passion fruit[23] Lettuce, alliums (chives, leeks, onions, shallots, etc.), rosemary, ]wormwood, sage, beans, flax Assassin buglacewing, parasitic wasp, yellow jacket and other predatory wasps
Cauliflower Brassica oleracea Beans, celery, spinach, peas Mixture of Chinese cabbage, marigolds, rape, and sunflower, ]Spinach, peas  
Celery Apium graveolens Bush beans, brassicas, cucumber Cosmos, daisies, snapdragons, leeks, tomatoes, cauliflower,]cabbage, bush beans[  
Chard Beta vulgarisssp. cicla Brassicas,  passion fruit    
Corn / Maize Zea mays Beans, cucurbits, soybeans, tomatoes Sunflowers, dill, legumes (beans, peas, soybeans etc.), peanuts, cucurbits, clover,  amaranth, white geranium, pigweed, lamb’s quarters, morning glory, parsley, and potato, field mustard,  Sudan grass  
Cucumber Cucumis sativus Beans, kohlrabi,  lettuce Kohlrabi,]nasturtiums, radishes, marigolds, sunflowers, peas, beans, chamomile, beets, carrots, dill, onions, garlic, amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus), celery ]Malabar spinach Beneficial for ground beetles
Cucurbits Cucurbitaceae Corn[13] Corn,  grain sorghum  
Eggplant or Aubergine Solanum melongena Beans, peppers, tomatoes, passion fruit[ Marigolds, catnip, dill, redroot pigweed green beans, tarragon, mints, thyme  
Kohlrabi Brassica oleracea v. gongylodes Onion, beets, aromatic plants, cucumbers Beets, cucumbers  
Leek Allium ampeloprasumv. porrum Carrots,  celery, onions,  tomato, passion fruit[ Carrots clover,  
Legumes Phaseolus and Vicia Beets, lettuce, okra, potato, spinach, dill, cabbage, carrots, chards, eggplant, peas, tomatoes, brassicas, corn, cucumbers, grapes Summer savory, beets, cucumbers, borage, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, larkspur, lovage,marigolds, mustards, radish, potato, peppermint, ]rosemary, lettuce, onion, squash, lacy phacelia Snails and slugs[
Lettuce Lactuca sativa Beets,,beans, okra, onions, radish, broccoli, Carrots, passion fruit Radish, beets, dill, kohlrabi, onions, beans, carrots, cucumbers,]strawberries, broccoli, thyme, nasturtiums, alyssum, cilantro Slugs and snails.
Mustard Sinapis alba Beans,  broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, fruit trees,grapes,  radish, brussels sprouts, turnips    
Nightshades Solanaceae   Carrots, alliums, mints (basil, oregano, etc.)  
Okra Abelmoschus esculentus Sweet potato, tomatoes, peppers[] Beans, lettuce,]squash, sweet potato, peppers  
Onion Allium cepa Beets, beans, brassicas, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, passion fruit, strawberries.  Green onions with Chinese cabbage[ Carrots, beets, brassicas, dill, lettuce, strawberries, marigolds, mints, ]tomatoes, summer savory, chamomile, pansy  
Parsnip Pastinaca sativa Fruit trees   A variety of predatory insects
Peas Pisum sativum Brassicas, turnip, cauliflower, garlic, Turnip, cauliflower, garlic, mints  
Peppers Solanaceae, Capsicum Okra Beans, tomatoes, marjoram,[ okra, geraniums, petunias, sunflowers, onions[3] crimson clover, basil, field mustard  
Potato Solanum tuberosum Brassicas,]beans, ]corn,[13] peas, passion fruit Horseradish, beans, dead nettle, marigolds, peas, onion, garlic, thyme, clover  
Pumpkin Cucurbita pepo Corn,[70] beans Buckwheat, Jimson weed, catnip, oregano, tansy, radishes, nasturtiums spiders, ground beetles
Radish Raphanus sativus Squash[13] eggplant, cucumber, lettuce, peas,[21]beans, pole beans,[11] Chervil, lettuce,]nasturtiums  
Soybean Glycine max   Corn, snap beans,]sunflower  
Spinach Spinacia oleracea Brassicas, cauliflower,]passion fruit[23] Strawberries, peas, beans, cauliflower[39]  
Squash Cucurbita spp. corn, beans,]okra,[55] Beans, buckwheat, borage, catnip, tansy, radishes, marigolds, nasturtiums Spiders, ground beetles
Sweet potato Ipomoea batatas Okra Okra  
Tomatoes Solanum lycopersicum Brassicas, broccoli, cabbage,] celery,,roses, peppers, asparagus Asparagus,[14]basil, beans,[] bee balm (Monarda), oregano, parsley, marigold,  alliums, garlic, leeks,]celery, geraniums, petunias, nasturtium, borage, coriander, chives, corn,]dill,  mustard, fenugreek,[37] barley, carrots eggplant,]mints, okra,]sage, thyme, flower strips”  
Turnips and rutabagas Brassica rapaand Brassica napobrassica Peas, broccoli Hairy vetch, peas  

 

GM debate reaches deadlock

[tds_warning]

GM debate reaches deadlock: Opinion on genetically modified foods remains divided, but can such agricultural technology help to avoid widespread and imminent famine?

[/tds_warning]

GM is everywhere – not in the sense of fields and foods, but in public debate and the press. 

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been championed in the fight against the threatened “banana apocalypse” by fungal diseases, but challenged on safety grounds by the Norwegian government. 

Engineered to help tackle vitamin-A deficiency, “golden rice” has been heralded as both a potential lifesaver by Danish author Bjørn Lomborg and a hoax by Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva. 

Biotech giant Monsanto has been seen holding open-house on the social networking website reddit, but heard under attack on the new album by Neil Young. Like it or loathe it, you cannot ignore it – GM makes news. 

Top 5 areas of biotech crops in 2014

However, to have the issue front and centre in the agriculture and food debate is more hindrance than help, argues Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association

“GM is a huge distraction. At best, pro-GM campaigners claim they have a solution to one or two problems,” he says. “The technology cannot deliver integrated solutions to the range of challenges facing farming – climate change, hunger, loss of wildlife, poor animal welfare, soil degradation, and all other environmental and human problems caused by industrial agriculture.” 

This tendency of GM to hog the public agenda is also a source of frustration for Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank. “The thing that happens when you are talking about GMOs is the issue itself takes up all the oxygen in the room,” she says. 

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What troubles her more, though, is lack of progress. “My concern is that investment and research into GMOs has been going on for more than 20 years now and we still have about a billion people hungry,” she says. “We are still grappling with the same challenges we were grappling with 40 years ago. GMOs haven’t lived up to their promises.”

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One key media battleground at present is the issue of the use of chemicals, with a case for GM made by Professor Jonathan Jones, of the Sainsbury Laboratory, in Norwich. He points out: “Already, there has been a vast reduction in insecticide applications worldwide. Over 400,000 tons of insecticide – nerve poisons – have not been applied thanks to GM.” 

While Professor Jones acknowledges that usage totals for certain herbicides have gone up, particularly glyphosate, (a hot topic at present, with its own hashtag in hourly use on Twitter), he suggests this is because of their being substituted in place of what he describes as “nastier” alternatives. 

Forecasting reductions in fungicide applications from next year, when the potato blight resistance gene he cloned is deployed commercially in the United States, Professor Jones also tips Brazil for the country to watch, as biotech inputs begin eating into $1 billion-worth of fungicide applications used annually to control soybean rust. 

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This has to move to being an issue of social justice or the poorest of the poor will continue to suffer needlessly. An important general point is that GM is just a method, not a thing, and it can be deployed to address many different agricultural problems, but only if there is a cost-effective business model for either private or public-sector actors.

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He is at pains to place GM in context. “An important general point is that GM is just a method, not a thing, and it can be deployed to address many different agricultural problems, but only if there is a cost-effective business model for either private or public-sector actors,” he says. 

For Rich Kottmeyer, senior vice president at Cheetah Development, getting the numbers to add up constitutes the day job, working to make smallholders investible. Mr Kottmeyer contends it is not just a matter of the total global shortfall in future food production that makes GM a must-have, but how the figures break down geographically. “Productivity gains are very uneven,” he says. “Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to reach only 13 per cent of food needs. If we don’t use all tools and techniques, we must be comfortable with an outcome of hunger and malnutrition that could have been prevented.” 

In Mr Kottmeyer’s analysis, willingness to embrace modern practices, including GMO, approaches a moral imperative. “The gap between agricultural ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is astonishing. Data clearly shows that it is the poor smallholder farmer that suffers the most from a lack of technology access,” he says. 

“Ironically, the hungry bear the brunt of the fight and have little voice. This has to move to being an issue of social justice or the poorest of the poor will continue to suffer needlessly.” 

For Ms Nierenberg, though, GM is part of an ag-tech image problem. “When people think technology, they think GM and they can’t think anything else. It makes technology seem bad and technology isn’t bad in agriculture,” she says. “If we are concerned about figuring out the challenges – whether climate change, hunger or protecting the environment – we need technology to do that.” 

Biotech crops factfile

The debate about the urgent need for technology in agriculture is perhaps strongest in relation to Africa, where food insecurity is highest and GM slow to gain acceptance. 

Reality for the have-nots there is stark, concludes Richard Munang, Co-ordinator of the United Nations’ African regional climate change programme. “In Africa, the major vulnerability is climate driven – 25 per cent go to bed hungry, more than 200 million suffer chronic to severe malnutrition, which also accounts for over 50 per cent infant mortality,” says Dr Munang. 

“In the face of climate change, 11 to 40 per cent declines in productivity of key staple foods in the continent are projected, implying a 25 to 90 per cent increase in the undernourished by 2050.” 

Led by the UN Environment Programme and acknowledged by the African Union, the call is for policies of ecosystem-based adaptation. The role for GM is still up for negotiation, backed by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, but facing political resistance and public unease. 

With strong opinions across continents both for and against GMOs, media controversy is seldom far away. In the face of an impending global food crisis, healthy debate about the future role of technology in sustainable agriculture is desirable, even essential. However, associated delay and disruption is not. 

Against the clock, the question to ask is not perhaps whether GM is the answer, but whether GM is the question.