Contact Information:

Media Contact

Sarah Collins
sarah.collins@admin.cam.ac.uk
44-122-376-5542

Twitter: Cambridge_Uni

http://www.cam.ac.uk




Kredyty mieszkaniowe Kredyty mieszkaniowe

Sprawdź aktualny ranking najlepszych kredytów mieszkaniowych w Polsce - atrakcyjne kredytowanie nieruchomości.

PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
FREE PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION
RSS - Press News Release
Add Press Release

Paying farmers to help the environment works, but 'perverse' subsidies must be balanced


Paying farmers to help the environment works, but 'perverse' subsidies must be balanced
2015-09-09
(Press-News.org) New research suggests that offering financial incentives for farming industries to mitigate the impact agriculture has on the environment, by reducing fertiliser use and 'sparing' land for conservation, for example, actually has a positive effect on critical areas such as greenhouse gas reduction and increased biodiversity.

It has been a point of contention whether such 'cash for conservation' initiatives succeed. For the latest study, researchers aggregated investment in environmental incentives at a national level for the first time, and, by comparing them to broad trends in environmental outcomes, found that paying the agriculture industry to help the environment seems to be working.

However, the research team also mapped the proportion of global agricultural production reinvested in environmental incentives, and compared it to the proportion gifted to the industry through government subsidies. As expressed in pie charts, the results show big wedges of subsidy stacked on top of barely perceptible slivers of environmental investment.

For example, around 20% of the value of agriculture production in the EU is subsidised by the taxpayer. However, less than 1% goes towards mitigating the toll farming takes on the natural world - despite agriculture contributing more to environmental degradation than any other economic sector, say researchers.

The team describe current agriculture funding models as 'perverse subsidies': promoting negative actions in both the long and short term by being bad for the environment and costly to the economy.

They argue for a redressing of the massive imbalance between government money spent on farming subsidies, and that spent on lessening the damage farming does to the environment.

Consumption of environmental services, such as water (crop irrigation alone counts for 70% of the world's freshwater withdrawals), should be taxed, say the researchers, and any subsidies should be paid on the proviso that they are as much for protecting the land as for farming it.

"Our results show that paying farmers to do things that are good for the environment actually seems to work when averaged across national scales," said lead author Dr Andrew Tanentzap.

"In many parts of the world, governments already provide huge subsidies to the agriculture industry; if we are paying people to be farmers, part of that payment - indeed, part of the job of a farmer - needs to be protecting the countryside as well as farming it," he said. "We need a shift in what it means to be a farmer."

The work, conducted by researchers from Cambridge University's departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology, is published today in the open access journal PLOS Biology.

While national data for environmental performance is limited and difficult to quantify, the research team were able to plot investment in two key agri-environment schemes, land 'retirement' for conservation and limiting fertiliser use, against national trends for farmland bird populations and emissions from synthetic fertiliser across landmasses including the US, Canada, Australia and Europe.

They found that, broadly speaking, higher national investment in these environmentally-friendly incentive schemes over a five-year period correlated with increased levels of bird biodiversity and lower rates of gas emissions from farming.

"There's controversy around whether such environmental incentives actually work at a local scale. What we've done is average out the local effects to pull out what's happening on a very large scale, and it looks like there are benefits to paying farmers to be kinder to the environment," said Tanentzap.

However, Tanentzap points out that paying farmers to be more environmentally-friendly won't solve the problem of food security, and if these schemes reduce crop yields it may result in increased production elsewhere: "displacing the impacts that we are paying some farmers to mitigate". He says that, in the worst cases, this results in further land being sucked into the agricultural churn.

"A result of many agri-environment schemes is the spreading out - or 'sharing' - of land for both farming and the natural environment. A lot of research, much of it driven by conservation scientists here in Cambridge, shows that this is less effective than simply removing the land from production - 'sparing' it for conservation."

"The most logical solution would be to intensify production on existing lands, trying to minimise environmental impacts with regulations, incentives for good environmental performance, or consumption taxes, while protecting land elsewhere for conservation," Tanentzap said.

The researchers say that tackling the huge disparity between government subsidies and environmental incentives needs to be the first step in reducing conflict between agriculture and the natural environment, something they say has traditionally been difficult to achieve because of the power behind agri-food lobbies.

They write that while governments continue to subsidise production and famers are not accountable for the costs of their actions because associated penalties are trivial, damaging the environment will remain highly financially lucrative - with devastating consequences.

However, simply removing subsidies alone fails to reduce environmental harm, and incentives for better farming practices are still required. In the paper, researchers look at the case of New Zealand, where there are no subsidies or mitigation schemes, and much of the country has been transformed into a massive dairy farm for China as a result, says Tanentzap.

"Subsidies for production date from the post-war era, when feeding a booming population was paramount. Food security is, of course, still a major issue as populations continue to rise, but there are ways to deliver this without destroying the planet," Tanentzap said.

"If the agriculture industry is to be subsidised, then paying farmers to protect the environment - rather than just stripping as much use from the land as possible - is something our study has shown to be effective, and something the natural world is in dire need of."

INFORMATION:


[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Paying farmers to help the environment works, but 'perverse' subsidies must be balanced

ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

A hint of increased brain tumor risk -- 5 years before diagnosis

2015-09-09
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A new study suggests that changes in immune function can occur as long as five years before the diagnosis of a brain tumor that typically produces symptoms only three months before it is detected. Using blood samples collected an average of 15 years before brain tumor diagnosis to analyze interactions between 12 allergy-related proteins, researchers looked at how those relationships differed between people later diagnosed with brain tumors and cancer-free controls. Among people who were subsequently diagnosed with this brain tumor, called a glioma, ...

New video series 'Beyond the Desktop' explores potential of 3-D printing

2015-09-09
The Wilson Center's Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) is releasing a five-episode video series looking at the potential for additive manufacturing to transform how we build things - and what we need to do to fully realize this potential. Beyond the Desktop explores how additive manufacturing could affect the fields of medicine, aerospace, space technology and more. Beginning Sept. 9, 2015, a new episode will be released each Wednesday through early October. Episodes will be posted on the Wilson Center homepage: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/3dprinting Many ...

Ocean life triggers ice formation in clouds

2015-09-09
Researchers have shown for the first time that phytoplankton (plant life) in remote ocean regions can contribute to rare airborne particles that trigger ice formation in clouds. Results published this week (Wednesday 9 September) in the journal Nature show that the organic waste from life in the oceans, which is ejected into the atmosphere along with sea spray from breaking waves, stimulates cloud droplets to freeze into ice particles. This affects how clouds behave and influence global climate, which is important for improved projections of future climate change. Clouds ...

How to spawn an 'exceptional ring'

2015-09-09
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--The Dirac cone, named after British physicist Paul Dirac, started as a concept in particle and high-energy physics and has recently became important in research in condensed matter physics and material science. It has since been found to describe aspects of graphene, a two dimensional form of carbon, suggesting the possibility of applications across various fields. Now physicists at MIT have found another unusual phenomenon produced by the Dirac cone: It can spawn a phenomenon described as a "ring of exceptional points." This connects two fields of ...

Cells from human umbilical cord blood improve cognition in Alzheimer's disease model mice

2015-09-09
Putnam Valley, NY. (Sept. 9, 2015) - Alzheimer's disease (AD), which affects an estimated 26 million people worldwide, is the fourth leading cause of death among the elderly and the leading cause of dementia. Predictions are that the number of AD cases will quadruple by 2050. Although pharmacological methods for treating AD have been discovered, none significantly delay the progression of the disease. However, cell transplantation research using animals modeled with AD has indicated that human umbilical cord blood cells (HUCBCs) can ameliorate some cognitive deficits ...

The Industrial Revolution put an end to 1,800 years of ocean cooling

2015-09-09
The high frequency and magnitude of volcanic eruptions could have been the cause of the progressive cooling of ocean surfaces over a period of 1,800 years. This is made apparent in an international study published recently in the journal Nature Geoscience, involving researcher P. Graham Mortyn of the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) and the UAB Department of Geography. The study emphasises that this trend came to an end with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the resulting global warming caused by human activity. It further shows ...

Tree planting can harm ecosystems

2015-09-09
The world's grassy biomes are key contributors to biodiversity and ecosystem services, and are under immense pressure from conversion to agriculture and tree planting, report Joseph W. Veldman, of Iowa State University, and his colleagues in an article for the October issue of BioScience. The authors argue that forest- and tree-focused environmental policies and conservation initiatives have potentially dire ecological consequences for undervalued ecosystems, such as grasslands, savannas, and open-canopy woodlands. To illustrate this forest bias and its consequences, ...

Researchers reawaken sleeping HIV in patient cells to eliminate the virus

2015-09-09
LA JOLLA, Calif., September 9, 2015 - A consortium of investigators led by scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have found that a new class of drugs may be used to purge pockets of dormant HIV from a patient's body, eliminating the virus once and for all. Since these agents are already being explored in clinical trials for treating cancer, the route to approval for treating HIV may be significantly shorter than usual. Antiretroviral therapies have made it possible for people to live with HIV for decades. However, patients continue to ...

Battery-free smart camera nodes automatically determine their own pose and location

2015-09-09
Scientists at Disney Research and the University of Washington (UW) have shown that a network of energy-harvesting sensor nodes equipped with onboard cameras can automatically determine each camera's pose and location using optical cues. This capability could help to enable networks of hundreds or thousands of sensors that could operate without batteries or external power and require minimal maintenance. Such networks could be part of the Internet of Things (IoT) in which objects can communicate and share information to create smart environments. Previous work at UW ...

Ebola virus disease in Liberia

2015-09-09
A newly published research study by U.S. Forest Service researchers demonstrates that the social vulnerability indices used in climate change and natural hazards research can also be used in other contexts such as disease outbreaks. Authors of the article include Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) researchers John Stanturf, Scott Goodrick, Mel Warren, and Christie Stegall, and Susan Charnley from the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station. Published in the online journal PLOS ONE, the study illustrates how census and household survey data, when ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

How your brain decides blame and punishment -- and how it can be changed

Uniquely human brain region enables punishment decisions

Pinpointing punishment

Chapman University publishes research on attractiveness and mating

E-cigarettes: Special issue from Nicotine & Tobacco Research

Placental problems in early pregnancy associated with 5-fold increased risk of OB & fetal disorders

UT study: Invasive brood parasites a threat to native bird species

Criminals acquire guns through social connections

Restoring ocean health

Report: Cancer remains leading cause of death in US Hispanics

Twin study suggests genetic factors contribute to insomnia in adults

To be fragrant or not: Why do some male hairstreak butterflies lack scent organs?

International team discovers natural defense against HIV

Bolivian biodiversity observatory takes its first steps

Choice of college major influences lifetime earnings more than simply getting a degree

Dominant strain of drug-resistant MRSA decreases in hospitals, but persists in community

Synthetic biology needs robust safety mechanisms before real world application

US defense agencies increase investment in federal synthetic biology research

Robots help to map England's only deep-water Marine Conservation Zone

Mayo researchers identify protein -- may predict who will respond to PD-1 immunotherapy for melanoma

How much water do US fracking operations really use?

New approach to mammograms could improve reliability

The influence of citizen science grows despite some resistance

Unlocking secrets of how fossils form

What happens on the molecular level when smog gets into the lungs?

Using ultrasound to clean medical instruments

Platinum and iron oxide working together get the job done

Tiny silica particles could be used to repair damaged teeth, research shows

A quantum lab for everyone

No way? Charity's logo may influence perception of food in package

[Press-News.org] Paying farmers to help the environment works, but 'perverse' subsidies must be balanced
Press-News.org is a service of DragonFly Company. All Rights Reserved.
Issuers of news releases are solely responsible for the accuracy of their content.