The history of cellular agriculture (and the future of food, too)

September 7, 2019 by  
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Cowless meat, chickenless eggs and ?shless seafood — oh my.

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The history of cellular agriculture (and the future of food, too)

EPA reauthorizes use of ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill wild animals

August 12, 2019 by  
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The welfare of many coyotes, foxes and other wildlife in the United States could be in danger if they encounter M-44 devices, which have recently been reauthorized for use by the EPA. M-44s, also known as chemical traps or “cyanide bombs” by some, are used to kill these types of animals, typically to protect livestock for ranchers and farmers. The devices are primarily used by Wildlife Services, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to trap the animals via bait and then release cyanide into their mouths. M-44s are also approved for use by state agencies in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and Texas. Related: US will temporarily halt use of cyanide bombs to kill Colorado wildlife Why now? In 2018, the EPA proposed to return to the use of sodium cyanide but waited until March 2019 to give time for public opinion. More than 99.9 percent of comments asked for the EPA to ban M-44s, according to an analysis by The Center for Biological Diversity and Western Environmental Law Center. Various environmental groups, including The Center for Biological Diversity, are calling for a nationwide ban on the M-44s, citing the devices are inhumane and can also injure humans . “The overwhelming majority of comments from the general public, including the more than 20,0000 [ sic ] letters from the write-in campaign, did not support the continued registration of sodium cyanide predacide uses (M-44 devices),” the EPA wrote in its proposal . Those against the devices cited the dangers to residential areas and ecological concerns. With the reauthorization of the devices, the EPA also updated a new set of restrictions to hopefully reduce accidents. For example, M-44s cannot be placed within 100 feet of public roads or pathways, which is an increase from the previous 50 feet. Also, raised warning signs must be positioned within 15 feet of each device, decreased from 25 feet. Those living within a half-mile of an M-44 device will need to be properly alerted. “Cyanide traps can’t be used safely by anyone, anywhere,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at The Center for Biological Diversity. “While the EPA added some restrictions, these deadly devices have caused too much harm to remain in use. We need a permanent nationwide ban to protect people, pets and imperiled wildlife from this poison.” Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, said, “Warning signs will not prevent more dogs, wild animals and potentially children from being killed. They cannot read them. M-44s are a safety menace and must be banned.” Wildlife Services’ data reports M-44s killed 6,579 animals in 2018 and more than 200 deaths were non-target animals, such as opossums, raccoons, skunks and a bear . + Center for Biological Diversity Via CBS News Image via Bruce Tunget

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EPA reauthorizes use of ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill wild animals

This zero-waste espresso machine is powered by human strength

August 12, 2019 by  
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While cafe-worthy espresso machines still lie out of the price range for most people, there are more and more affordable versions hitting the market. Still, many models at all price points either create waste from pods and filters or use a lot of energy — or both. In searching for an option that fulfills our love for coffee without creating waste and consuming a lot of electricity, we found ROK. The ROK espresso maker promises a strong, double shot of espresso with zero-waste and zero-energy needed. After opening the box, we felt pretty intimidated by the machine. It is made from strong, sturdy steel, and is small enough to carry around, but the instructions weren’t incredibly informative. There is also a metal portafilter, which holds the coffee grounds, as well as a plastic coffee scoop that doubles as a tamper, a splitter to turn the double shot into two single shots and a mysterious additional piece that we still do not know its purpose. (If you know, leave us a comment below!) Related: The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead Luckily for ROK users, the company has an informative YouTube channel, where we found plenty of tutorials as well as helpful tips and tricks to make the best espresso possible. After familiarizing ourselves with the routine, we decided to give it a go. We added fine coffee grounds to the portafilter and tamped it firmly, but not too firmly, using the back of the coffee scoop. Inserting the portafilter into the machine is probably the trickiest part; we recommend squatting down and looking to see where the notches line up to avoid missing and dumping the grounds everywhere (speaking from experience here). After the portafilter is secured in place, make sure your mug is lined up at the bottom under the spout, and add boiling hot water to the black plastic rim at the top of the machine. We found about 100 to 110 mL gave us the perfect amount with enough to pull a thin layer of crema at the top of the cup as well. Pull the arms of the machine up slowly, then push down. If you feel a lot of resistance, don’t push further! The coffee might be tamped in too much, and forcing the arms down could cause the water to burn you. If the arms are moving with just slight pressure, you are doing it correctly. Push slowly, and the water will run through the portafilter and espresso will pour into your mug. After the arms are all the way down, feel free to pull the arms up and push down one more time to get rid of any excess water and to pull crema. If you want to create two single shots of espresso (a great way to take a quick break with coworkers!), simply attach the clear, plastic splitter to the end of the portafilter after it has been secured into the machine. Place an espresso mug under the end of each side of the splitter, and operate as usual. After our trial run, we were so surprised at how easy it was to use the ROK espresso maker. We simply composted the used grounds, wiped the machine and portafilter down and it was ready to go for the next round of espresso. We love it so much, in fact, that we use it multiple times a week. It makes a strong cup of espresso, it is a breeze to use, it is quiet (so we aren’t disturbing the people working around us) and it is quick to clean. It also is small enough to fit on a desk. Prices vary depending on where you purchase ROK, but it costs about $160-180 USD. The company sells bundles on its website that include the machine as well as a milk frother, coffee and more. Although the plastic parts do feel sturdy, if they happen to break, ROK sells small replacement kits as well, so you can service your machine and get the coffee breaks you deserve for years to come. + ROK Images via Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by ROK. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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This zero-waste espresso machine is powered by human strength

MASS Design crowns a 1920s houseboat with a timber luxury lookout

August 12, 2019 by  
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After meticulously renovating a 1920s houseboat into a home for two, a pair of clients reached out to multidisciplinary studio MASS Design to craft the houseboat’s crowning achievement — a bespoke interior for the old wheel house at the top of the boat. The clients asked for a bold interior that would match the wheel house’s spectacular 360-degree views over the harbor. Taking inspiration from the water, the designers created The Lighthouse, a sculptural and multifunctional space defined by an organic, wave-like bench and ceiling structure made from CNC-milled timber panels that were assembled into modules without any screws or glue. In its heyday, the early 20th-century houseboat originally served as a day cruise on the rivers and canals of Eastern Germany with an estimated max capacity of 700 people. Today, the houseboat is stationed on the waters of Amsterdam, where it’s become a new home for two people. Having saved the old, 10-square-meter wheel house as the last piece of their renovation project, the clients emphasized their desire for a striking design with “the boldness of an art piece.” Related: A solar-powered houseboat designed for the water-loving adventurer The wave-like design that MASS Design created makes the most of the room’s small footprint and efficiently carves out space for a writing shack , reading room and champagne bar — all while keeping focus on the surrounding 360-degree views of the harbor. “The interior mimics the waves it used to travel on, undulating throughout the room,” said MASS Design designers Krishna Duddumpudi and Henry Roberts. “Everything flows together; seating to tables, tables to walls, creating one continuous surface in which even the ceiling participates.” A total of 648 individual vertical wooden panels were CNC milled, processed and assembled to form the organic bench and ceiling structure modules without screws or glue at Contact Makerspace in Amsterdam. The modular design allowed the designers and clients to easily and quickly install the pieces into the room without a builder. A voice-activated and app-controlled LED “sun-light” was installed at the center of the room, which makes the space glow like a lighthouse at night. + MASS Design Photography by Maylan van der Grift via MASS Design

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MASS Design crowns a 1920s houseboat with a timber luxury lookout

Germany proposes a meat tax increase to improve animal welfare and curb climate change

August 8, 2019 by  
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German residents may soon find themselves paying more for steaks, pork chops and sausages. Across party lines, the country’s politicians have proposed raising the VAT, or value added tax, on meat to a standard rate of 19 percent. Presently, meat in Germany is taxed at a rate of 7 percent. Germany’s lawmakers have suggested using the additional funds raised by the meat tax increase to help animal welfare in the country following the increased scrutiny of the treatment of livestock in Germany. Related: Meat consumption must drop by 90% to avert a climate crisis “I am in favor of abolishing the VAT reduction for meat and earmarking it for more animal welfare,” said Friedrich Ostendorf, agricultural policy spokesperson for the Greens. The Social Democrats’ agricultural policy spokesperson Rainer Spieging said that “a meat tax, such as increasing the VAT to 19 percent, could be a way forward.” Agriculture spokesperson Albert Stegemann, of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said he was open to the idea of an added meat tax, but with one caveat. “Such a tax can be a constructive proposal,” Stegemann said. “However, the additional tax revenue should be used to support livestock farmers to help them restructure.” In general, some people believe consuming meat has become out of fashion, and it has become more scrutinized in the past 10 years with the emergence of meatless diets, including vegetarianism and veganism , both of which are followed worldwide. Scientists have also noted the meat industry is one of the highest emitters of carbon dioxide and contributes to climate change . As a result, many have asked for tougher measures to decrease meat consumption on a whole as part of a more holistic way to fight climate change. Via EcoWatch Image via Travel Junction

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Germany proposes a meat tax increase to improve animal welfare and curb climate change

Why chicken producers Perdue and Tyson are going flexitarian

July 1, 2019 by  
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Blended meat won’t save the world, but it’s a huge step in the right direction.

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Why chicken producers Perdue and Tyson are going flexitarian

German court rules mass killing of male chicks legal

June 14, 2019 by  
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This month, the Federal Administrative Court in Germany ruled to uphold the common practice of killing male chicks, which are widely considered inefficient for meat production. The ruling is meant to be temporary, until an alternative and scalable solution is available, despite outcry by animal rights advocates. The hearing is in response to a ban of the practice from 2013 within a state in Germany. Following the ban, two major hatcheries challenged the decision, claiming that the practice was necessary for food production. On Thursday, the courts ruled that the practice was indeed legal– at least temporarily– and does not contradict the country’s Animal Welfare Act. Germany’s Minister for Agriculture, however, stated that the practice is ethically unacceptable. Related:Free at last: Canada passes Act to prohibit dolphin and whale captivity Male chicks are mass slaughtered throughout the world. They do not grow as fast as hens, and therefore are considered inefficient for meat production. The meat industry will be worth worth about US $7 trillion by 2025, and estimates show that about 84 percent of consumers had chicken in the last two weeks. Despite some reports that alternative meat demands are rising, meat industry statistics show growing demand for animal products, especially in wealthy nations. For every hen consumed, an equal number of male chicks has been slaughtered. The most common ways for slaughtering newborn chicks include gassing and high-speed grinders. In Germany alone, 45 million male chicks are slaughtered annually. One German company already has an alternative on the market– an egg they claim can be tested for sex before it hatches. The company can determine the sex of the egg just seven days after fertilization by extracting fluid from the egg and testing it for hormones. The company is selling their eggs in 200 German markets and hopes to take off as a solution to this animal welfare concern. Via The BBC Image via onefox

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German court rules mass killing of male chicks legal

Britain promises net-zero emissions by 2050

June 14, 2019 by  
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Britain recently upped the ante on its commitment to fight climate change , promising to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The new governmental plan is more ambitious than its original Climate Change Act from 2008, which pledged to reduce emissions by 80 percent. Prime Minister Theresa May claimed net-zero is a necessary step for Britain and a moral duty as well as a strategy to improve public health and reduce healthcare costs. Britain is the first G7 country to propose carbon neutrality, an ambitious goal that environmentalists hope will encourage other nations to follow suit and increase their Paris Agreement emission reduction commitments. Related: Labour party launches solar panel program for 1.75M homes According to Prime Minister May, Britain’s economy can continue to grow alongside the transition to renewable energy . “We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions,” she said. Net-zero on a national level will mean that effectively all homes, transportation, farming and industries will not consume more energy than the country can generate through renewable energy. For certain cases where this is impossible, it will mean that companies and industries purchase carbon offsets. The roll out of this plan is to be determined but must include a variety of individual- and national-level actions, including a massive investment in the renewable energy industry as well as a reduction in meat consumption and flying and a total shift to electric cars, LED light bulbs and hydrogen gas heating. According to BBC, Prime Minister May also claimed that the U.K. “led the world to wealth through fossil fuels in the industrial revolution, so it was appropriate for Britain to lead in the opposite direction.” This claim erases the true legacy of the industrial revolution and the role Britain played, which includes environmental destruction, exacerbated inequality and economic exploitation of many nations — not wealth. Whether or not Britain is a world leader, its pledge might convince other nations to increase or at least stick to their commitments to reduce emissions . Via BBC Image via Sebastian Ganso

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Britain promises net-zero emissions by 2050

Studio NAB wants to boost urban biodiversity with an insect hotel at a bus stop

June 14, 2019 by  
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Waiting for the bus is usually a drag, but what if the experience could instead become an opportunity to be closer to nature? French design practice Studio NAB has reinterpreted the humble bus stop as a hub for biodiversity that offers a “hotel” for birds and insects of all varieties. Built from recycled materials and topped with a vegetated green roof, the proposed Hotel Bus Stop aims to promote the population of native pollinating insects and reconnect people to nature. Studio NAB designed the Hotel Bus Stop to serve five purposes: to promote the presence of pollinating insects; to bring adults and children closer to nature and promote environmental awareness and education; to showcase architecture constructed from recycled materials such as wood, cardboard and stainless steel; to introduce urban greenery and improve air quality with a vegetated roof and exposed plant wall; and to create “green jobs” for maintenance around the bus stops. Related: 6 fun, fantastic bus stops from around the world “A broad scientific consensus now recognizes the role of man in the decline of biomass and biodiversity in general and that of insects in particular,” Studio NAB explained in a project statement. “The use of pesticides in intensive agriculture, the destruction of natural habitats, excessive urbanization, global warming and various pollutions are at the origin of this hecatomb. Our hegemony allied to our conscience obliges us today to fulfill a role of ‘guardian’ and to allow the ‘living’ to take its place in order to fight against the erosion of our biodiversity.” Envisioned for city centers and “eco-neighborhoods,” The Hotel Bus Stop would provide more habitats for pollinating insects that are essential for our food system and gardens, from fruit trees and vegetables to ornamental flowers. Auxiliary insects would also benefit, such as lacewings and earwigs that feed on aphids, a common garden pest. The underside of the bus stop roof would include boxes to encourage nesting by various bird species found throughout the city. + Studio NAB Images via Studio NAB

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Studio NAB wants to boost urban biodiversity with an insect hotel at a bus stop

How regenerative land and livestock management practices can sequester carbon

June 7, 2019 by  
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General Mills’ CSO on how animal agriculture can be regenerative, too.

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How regenerative land and livestock management practices can sequester carbon

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