Drug Production and Land Use.  Students sometimes ask if worldwide production of illegal drugs is contributing to a worldwide food shortage.  A recent annual survey by the United Nations on drug production shows that the impact is small.  Poppy production in 2007 used 201,500 hectares (up 17% from 2006), coca production used 157,000 hectares (up 16% from 2006) and cannabis production used approximately 520,000 hectares (this is the 2006 number, but the general trend seems to be flat or slightly declining).  The total amount is 0.14% of the land on which cereals were harvested.

posted June 27, 2008 at 4:10 p.m.


Agricultural Prices in the US for June 2008.   Available here.  

posted June 27, 2008 at 3:20 p.m.


Brazilian Cerrado and its Promise for Increase Agricultural Production.  US News and World Report writes:  "What is unfolding on the plains at the center of South America probably qualifies as the most important transformation of land since the breaking of sod in the Midwest during America's westward expansion. With comparatively little unused, arable land left in the world's temperate zones, including in the United States, no other country on Earth has Brazil's surge capacity in food production."

posted June 27, 2008 at 3:00 p.m.


French Winemakers Find a Solution to the Cost-Price Squeeze.  Set fire to police cars.

posted June 27, 2008 at 11:20 a.m.


Supporting an end to the US tariff on Brazilian ethanol.  The Economist makes the case for Brazilian ethanol, and opines:  "To Brazilians, outsiders who want to block their ethanol in the name of environmentalism or concern about food prices or labour conditions look like old-fashioned protectionists in hypocritical disguise. ... [T]he tariff should go."

posted June 27, 2008, 10:40 a.m.


Agriculture on Mars?  The Phoenix Mars Lander finds:  "Plants that like alkaline soil — like asparagus — might readily grow in the Martian soil, provided that other components of an Earth-like environment including air and water were also present."  Transportation costs are anticipated to be high, however.

posted June 27, 2008, 9:40 a.m.


Population Control Policy in Mexico:  When is an economic incentive coercive?  In the 1990s, 14 men were "coerced" (the word used in the news report) into having vasectomies by promises of homes and scholarships for their existing children.    This week, the state of Guerrero agreed to compensate these men by paying them $3400 apiece.  The article does not explain whether the "coercion" resulted from the promise not being fulfilled, or whether the promise, even if delivered, should be considered coercion.

posted June 27, 2008,  9:30 a.m.