Articles (articles are listed by latest first)

An holistic approach to understanding the biological impacts of climate change: Antarctica as a planetary warning system

Professor Lloyd S Peck,
Dr Dominic S Hodgson,
Dr Melody S. Clark,
Dr David K A Barnes,
Dr Peter Convey
British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingly Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK Index introduction  A definitive and comprehensive paper assessing the effects of climate change on the terrestrial and marine flora and fauna in Antarctica. The review explores the lessons that can be drawn from this regional climate and the need to understand the interactions between different anthropogenic causes of environmental change. Antarctica provides …


Evaluation of cotton production under limited water resources in the arid region of Xinjiang, China

Aiqin Zhao,
Professor Wei Xiuju
First author email: *Corresponding author email:  (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Engineering, Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering, Postdoctoral Scientific Research Stations of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Engineering, Beijing100125, China) Summary and Conclusions  China is the world's largest cotton producer, consumer and importer, and Xinjiang is China's largest cotton producing area. The cotton production in …


Editing Genetically Modified Organisms: BioEngineered aware

Kate M. Creasey Ph.D.,
Sylvia He, Ph.D.
Grow More Foundation 25 Health Sciences Drive, Stony Brook NY 11790 * Corresponding author email Advancements in crop genomics and molecular biology are enabling us to combat plant pests, disease, environmental stresses as well as enhance nutrition and plant growth. However, being at the forefront of agricultural biotechnology raises both societal questions and concerns, as well as the need for new regulatory oversight. It is imperative that …


Comments (agricultural, environmental) to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 6th October, 2018

Sir Brian Heap,
Dr Jillian Lenné,
Professor Neil C. Turner,
Denis J Murphy,
Dr David Frape
“ Global warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty” . Summary and Conclusions The report of 48 th Session of the IPCC indicates how human activities must change during the next 12 years if the worst effects of global …


Projected effects of climate change on vector-borne zoonotic diseases of animals

Dr David Frape
Summary Environmental temperature change of climate and rainfall distribution and intensity, the migration of wild animals, and movement of domestic animals and the migration of people and increasing tourism are all affecting the distribution and abundance of insect, arachnid and molluscan vectors of disease. Thesustained control of the insect vectors of dengue and leishmaniasis is difficult because their high reproductive potential allows the vector populations to recover quickly after …


Editor’s Comment – The importance of green plants

Dr David Frape
BEN Aldiss has drawn attention to what must be an issue that is common in so-called developed countries. It is likely to be more prevalent in island communities, such as that of the UK, in which the countryside is particularly benign. Our most poisonous snake is the adder, and one person recently was bitten by a fox in her home –it made the news! As the world population rises an increasing proportion of the population and families will live in tower blocks, or apartments, where the …


Who will look after our countryside?

Dr Ben Aldiss
AT the beginning of a recent talk on the plight of Britain’s wildlife, I projected a photo of a song thrush and asked if anyone knew what it was. Of the hundred or so teenagers and young adults in the audience, only one raised his hand.  ‘So,’ I said, ‘if they were to disappear from our countryside, how many of you would notice?’ Having taught Biology for 34 years, I was not surprised by this appalling ignorance – fewer than one per cent of my students throughout my entire …


Climate change, crop plant diseases and future food production

Dr Jillian Lenné
Over the next 100 years, with increasing levels of CO 2 and O 3 , global temperatures are predicted to rise by 2°to 4 °C. Extreme weather events such as drought, heat waves and erratic rainfall patterns are also likely to become more common. Changes in climate will affect different parts of world agriculture in different ways. Rising temperatures in tropical regions will be detrimental to crop production. In marginal, semi-arid areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, crop production …


Editor’s comments on climate change and the vectors of tropical human parasitic diseases

Dr David Frape
Dr Jillian Lenné (#1810) has provided an introduction to climate change and plant disease. She noted the paucity of information on food crops in developing countries. This lack of evidence is partly caused by the concentration of research effort on fungal diseases of major cereal crops and the complexity of the interactions.  A similar situation occurs with tropical diseases of humans requiring insect vectors. Mosquitoes and flies are by far the most common vectors of disease, …



Denis J Murphy
In March 2018, an account of a remarkable experiment involving millions of smallholder farmers in China was published in the journal Nature by Cui et al. (Nature 555, 363-66, doi 10.1038/nature25785; 2018). The aim was to provide bespoke evidence-based advice to farmers on how to increase crop yields without the excessive use of fertilizers as has occurred in the past. Over the past thirty years the yield and efficiency of agricultural production in China have increased …


Ensuring the safety and reliability of foods and other products in agricultural supply chains. A case study involving vegetable oils.

Kirstie A Goggin,
Denis J Murphy
Summary The growing complexity of global supply chains means that ensuring the safety and authenticity of food and non-food agricultural products is an ever-increasing challenge. This article focuses on fats, which, together with proteins and carbohydrates, make up the bulk of the human diet. Over 86% of globally consumed edible fats are plant-derived (or vegetable) oils. In contrast, animal-derived fats account for about 14% of worldwide oil and fat consumption, mostly in developed …


Notes on factors to be considered concerning the financial effect of Brexit on British agricultural production

Professor Sir John Marsh
From Article 50 & Agriculture. March 2017 CARAS Bulletin No.47, pp.2-3  Professor Sir John Marsh, CBE, FRAgS offered the following key practical points to consider post-Brexit:  1. At what price in sterling will imports be available?  a. Since prices are set in dollars we need a perspective on $/£ rates and on world market prices.  b. We know that prices will be volatile. In real terms they seem more likely to rise modestly in the long term.  2. At what price will …


Editor’s comments

Dr David Frape
The three papers to follow (#1806 to #1808) are by Professor Sir John Marsh, by Kirstie Goggin and Professor Murphy and the third by Prof. Murphy. The first is short notes on the subject of finance and how Brexit is expected to lower food costs by removing barriers to international trade. To what extent is this likely to influence British agricultural production? There are some intriguing points that must be considered, raised by Sir John. The second paper is by Professor Murphy and …


The functions and sizes of the five carbon sinks on planet Earth and their relation to climate change. Part 4. Is the criticism of pastured beef cattle justified, or is there a question over the source of the carbon?

Dr David Frape
SUMMARY A  carbon sink  is a natural or artificial reservoir that accumulates and stores some  carbon -containing chemical compound for an indefinite period. The process by which carbon sinks remove carbon dioxide ( CO 2 ) from the atmosphere is known as  carbon sequestration . The five major sinks are: 1) fossil fuels and carbonate rocks; 2) forests; 3) soils, including non-woody plants; 4) the oceans and 5) the atmosphere. The distinction is arbitrary…


Sustainable intensification

Professor Sir John Marsh
Summary There is the prospect of a global population of 9 billion by mid 21st Century. Rising real levels of income, growing constraints on food production from climate change and alternative land use together with an accelerating rate of consumption of non-renewable natural resources in all sectors are likely to restrict food production. This has led commentators to say that the only way to feed the future population is a move towards sustainable intensification. However, this is …


Editor’s Note

Dr Tina Barsby, Chief Executive Officer of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany & East Malling Research (NIAB EMR)  and a member of our Editorial Board of World Agriculture is awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for Services to agricultural science and biotechnology in her Majesty the Queen’s New Year’s Honours. The Editorial Board is delighted as the award is richly deserved.


The functions and sizes of the five carbon sinks on planet Earth and their relation to climate change. Part 3, temperate Deciduous Broad-leaved forests- do they have a role in global warming?

Dr David Frape
Summary The comparison of deciduous broad-leaved (DB) with coniferous evergreen (CE) forests, in respect of biodiversity and their effect on climate change, is restricted, as many published comparisons are made between these two forest types in different locations and latitudes. We have therefore compared each forest type with grassland in the same location to draw conclusions about their relative values at the latitudes of the UK- 50 o N-60 o N. The majority of forest carbon, …


Book review and comment. Robert Cook

Genetically Modified Organisms in Developing Countries: Risk analysis and Governance. Ed. Ademola A Adente, E Jane Morris and Denis J Murphy. Cambridge University Press, 2017; ISBN 978-1-107-15191-8, Hardback; DOI 10.1017/9781316585269.  Background Agricultural technology attracts emotional reactions from many groups of people who feel food should be pure and traditional, despite widespread adoption of technical advances in other aspects of life.  This is especially true in the case …


Crop Diversity for Human Nutrition and Health Benefits- I

A Comment by Professor Sir John Marshᵼ This paper draws attention to the important role of diversity in terms of human nutrition. The increased availability of a limited number of cereals has resulted in a situation in which a small number of crops provide most of the food most people eat. This has led to increasing concerns about human diets being energy rich but nutrient poor. Although satisfying hunger they lack some essential minerals and vitamins.  One approach to enrich diets is …


Crop Diversity for Human Nutrition and Health Benefits

Sayed Azam-Ali,
Susan Azam-Ali,
Professor Peter J. Gregory
Crops For the Future (CFF), Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia Summary Alongside dramatic increases in crop production over the last 50 years, global food systems have become more dependent on a few major `staple’ crops - just three cereals now provide about 60% of plant-based human energy intake. There is compelling evidence that diverse diets that include fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries, as well as staples, are instrumental in optimising human …