Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category

The Tobacco Plant, a Treatment for Cancer?

My partner Jeremy and I made a video about how the tobacco plants become a treatment for cancer. We interviewed Professor Hall and his team in University of Guelph, and they explained.

Hope you enjoy it!

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Volunteer in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Last week, I volunteered in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and worked as a representative for the OAC and the university. The University of Guelph display also showcased the cutting-edge research, e.g. bioproducts, animal welfare and biodiversity.

The role of my partner and I is greeting visitors and answering general questions about the OAC and its program. And we interacted with many students and their parents, who were interested in the OAC, and the alumni who were excited to see their alma mater in the fair.

As these high school students and their parents, the main questions focus on “what are the admission requirements for a specific program” and “I want to be a vet”. For the first question, the answer is to see the admission book for more information because these requirements vary by program. Then for the second question, the doctor of veterinary medicine requires at least three years of an undergraduate science, and it’s extremely competitive, so you should keep your marks high during that time, and then apply for it.

I worked for three days; it’s really fun and challenging. This is a picture of me in the fair below.

Who will benefit from Taiwan lifts ban on U.S. beef import

AFP/File – A staff is seen packaging imported US beef for sale at a Taipei supermarket.

AFP/File – A staff is seen packaging imported US beef for sale at a Taipei supermarket.

Recently, the Taiwan government claims that Taiwan will lift ban on U.S. beef import, which is a six year long ban because of mad cow disease. Taiwan will improve the trade relation with the U.S. because of this.

The Taiwan department of health announced that U.S. bone-in beef entering Taiwan is “from cattle less than 30 months of age and meets other requirements”, and they will import all the part of cattle except the one which is in the high risk of mad cow diseases. That is, cattle parts such as brains, skulls, eyes, spinal nerve roots, tonsils and small intestines, as “particularly risky” and these items remain on lists of export or import bans.

But this new change still arouse the critics from Taiwanese consumers, they argued that the government are not concerned about people’s health.

From the health minister Yang Chih-liang, there will be two limitations for the import of U.S. beef. First, only bone-in beef from cattle less than 30 months old will be allowed to be imported. Second, Importers of US bone-in beef must have export permits and safety guarantees from the US Department of Agriculture.

In 2003, the U.S. broke out the first case of mad cow diseases, then Taiwan forbad the beef import from U.S. But after that, U.S. gave pressure to Taiwan government, to request the import again, reported by local media. And Taiwan also lifted a ban during these years. In that year, Japan, Korea ban US beef imports on mad cow fears.

Taiwan is the sixth large overseas market for U.S. . As far as I am concerned, the issue is not only related to the food safety and food consumes, but more likely a political one between U.S. and Taiwan. Will the people in Taiwan benefit from this? I think the government should clarify it to the people, or it not deserves to exchange people’s health with the political concerns.

Links:

Japan suspends beef imports from US plant

http://money.aol.com/article/japan-suspends-us-plants-beef-amid-mad/712384

 Thousands in S Korea beef protest

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7491482.stm

 

Fair Trade: Is That Good for Us?

t-map-coffee

The Coffee World Map (source: www.gardfoods.com)

What is fair trade? Let us refer to the definition in Wikipedia. It says, “Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as social and environmental standards in areas related to the production of a wide variety of goods. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate and flowers.”

In other words, fair trade is kind of “conscientious consumption”. That is, you can buy products in a reasonable price, at the same time which develops opportunities to people (most of them are poor famers, or handicraftsmen) in the area of origin. It’s beneficial to both sides.

In China, the rural areas take a large amount of country, and the number of farmer is the largest in the world. But many farmers are living in a low lever living quality, what they owned for one year’s labor may only afford their living. If fair trade be the mainstream market in agriculture of China, Chinese farmers will get the maximum benefit. While at this time, it is hard to reach that. More realistically, requesting developed to reduce agricultural subsidies will be an efficient way, which can decrease the import from other countries and leave enough market to the local farmers.

In 2003, Dr. Liang did an investment in Guangxi province (in the western part of China), and wrote a report about the unfair trade sugar industry in China faced with. She analyzed that between 2001 and 2003, the sharp decline of international price of sugar severely damaged the Guangxi’s sugar industry, which leaded to the low income for the sugar farmers. Dr. Liang indicated that if there were a fair trade organization, the situation will not be that worse.

In most time, poverty and hardship limit people’s choices while market forces tend to further marginalise and exclude them. But fair trade can draw consumers closer to producers, and reduce the unnecessary exploitation in the market. Now fair trade has some large organizations such The Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), The World Fair Trade Organization, The Network of European Worldshops (NEWS), The European Fair Trade Association (EFTA). There are 25 stores approved by World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) in Asia, including an embroidery company in Yunan.