In Case You Missed it: This Week in Review

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This week, the Just Label It campaign successfully reached its goal of one million comments in support of its petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), calling  on the agency to label all genetically engineered foods. Thank you to everyone who signed the petition!

Photo credit: Bernard Pollack

The FDA also informed drug makers this week that it may soon ban the use of penicillin and tetracycline, two popular antibiotics used to promote growth in farm animals. According to many microbiologists and other experts, the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture contributes to selection for bacteria that are resistant to common treatments.

And in this post, we highlighted a new report from Oxfam America and the American Jewish World Service that shows that simple changes in U.S. food aid policy would allow the U.S. to respond to crises up to 14 weeks faster, at no additional cost to U.S. taxpayers.

Highlight from this past week:

The global population of farm animals increased 23 percent between 1980 and 2010,according to our latest Vital Signs Online trend on global livestock production. Although industrialized countries still consume the most animal products, urbanization and rising incomes in developing countries are spurring shifts to more meat-heavy diets. To meet this demand, animals are often raised in factory farms, which produce high levels of waste, use huge amounts of water and land for feed production, contribute to the spread of human and animal diseases, and play a role in biodiversity loss.

Aquaculture, or the rearing of fish in captivity, is the world’s fastest-growing way of producing protein, with nearly 50 percent of all seafood being farmed rather than caught in wild fisheries. Although researchers warn of dangerous overfishing and decline in the world’s wild fish population, aquaculture stands as a potentially sustainable alternative, and recent innovations promise to enhance the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of aquaculture while improving the lives of its fish farmers. In this post, Nourishing the Planet examines five innovations that are improving the sustainability of aquaculture around the world.

And our innovation of the week is the Fertilizer Tree System (FTS), a type of agroforestry that incorporates nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs into agricultural fields, usually inter-planted with food crops. Among the most challenging long-term barriers to agricultural production and sustainability in Africa is poor and degrading soil quality. But according to a recent report from the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, FTS can double maize production in soil that is low in nitrogen, an essential plant nutrient. These trees take in atmospheric nitrogen and return it to the soil, where it serves as a nutrient for plants.

Now it’s your turn: What were your favorite posts from the week? What do you hope we’ll write about next week? Let us know in the comments!

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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