In Brief… – for Jul. 28, 2011

Rain, rain go away:Wheat

crops in western Europe have rallied after a spring drought, but the rains that helped them recover may soon pose a threat to crop quality. “We are waiting for some sunshine we definitely don’t need this rain any more,” said Jack Watts of Britain’s Home-Grown Cereals Authority. In France, heavy showers this month have hit wheat plants’ specific weights in some key regions. Specific weight refers to the number of grains per hectolitre and is a quality criteria often included among international importers’ requirements. –Reuters

GM wheat protest:Australian

police raided the Sydney headquarters of Greenpeace after activists from the environmental group broke into the country’s top science agency to destroy a trial plot of genetically modified wheat.

Three Greenpeace activists, wearing hazard suits, used garden trimmers to cut down a trial crop in a pre-dawn incident at the Canberra headquarters of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Greenpeace official Steve Campbell said Australians need to be warned about the “serious risks” posed by GM crops and foods. –Reuters Heat wave:The heat wave in the U.S. Midwest is stressing the pollinating corn crop, and putting grasslands and cattle under duress.

A high-pressure ridge has pushed temperatures into the mid-to upper 30s C, not only reducing production prospects, but endangering livestock and humans exposed to the searing temperatures.

Cooler weather was forecasted for this week but so was an eventual return of hot weather. Chicago Board of Trade wheat rose last week, but corn fell on profit-taking, retreating from its early advance on weather worries. –Reuter

Making the move:Garth

Patterson is leaving the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Association after 16 years to become the new executive director of the Western Grains Research Foundation.

“We are delighted to have hired someone of Garth’s experience and expertise in the agricultural community for this important position,” said WGRF board chair Keith Degenhardt. “Garth’s leadership and direction will undoubtedly contribute to many achievements in the years ahead for WGRF.” WGRF is a non-profit research funding organization that is farmer funded and directed. –Staff Honoured:The Canadian Seed Trade Association has honoured Lloyd Dyck, co-chief executive officer of Brett Young Seeds with an Honorary Life Membership Award. This award is presented annually by the CSTA to honour an individual for significant contributions to the seed industry and to CSTA. Dyck’s 35-year career in the seed industry has been with Brett Young, based in Winnipeg. His contributions to the CSTA include serving on the board of directors for eight years (1988-96) and as CSTA’s president in 1994-95. –Staff Chocoholic quirks:When it comes to eating chocolate, are you a sucker or a chewer? In an article published in the journalPhysiology and BehaviorBritish researchers say there is considerable difference among consumers in how they consume chocolate. Some chew it and swallow quickly, while others suck to melt the chocolate. Preliminary results suggest the suckers take longer to absorb the chocolate which may result in them consuming less. The health implications of that are the subject of further study. –Staff

Kiwis are coming:New Zealand

Prime Minister John Key is playing down concerns his country would flood the United States with dairy products under a regional free trade pact. Key said he expected the bulk of New Zealand’s dairy exports to go to Asia and that the United States would also benefit. “Our modelling shows that demand is huge in dairy, so there’s no question that the U.S. will be filling part of that demand,” Key told reporters. “Those of us with the capacity to produce surplus food need to focus on working together to open markets in Asia.”– Reuters Famine protest:Somali Islamist rebels have accused the United Nations of exaggerating the severity of the drought gripping the south of the country and of politicizing the humanitarian crisis. “We say (the UN declaration) is totally, 100 per cent wrong and baseless propaganda,” al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told a media briefing.

The United Nations, which has declared famine in two pockets of southern Somalia, said that 3.7 million people risk starvation and that it is launching its biggest-ever relief effort.

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