Why cows properly cared for are good – for the land, the climate, and us

This from Tom Chapman a livestock farmer, agriculture consultant and founding member of the Pasture Fed Livestock Association:

“The oft-mentioned trope about emissions from animals and their other, supposedly damaging, effects….. The majority of ruminants in the UK graze either marginal land (not suitable for growing other food crops) or within an arable rotation.

The former is making use of land areas that would otherwise go to waste. Millions of people are fed from the wet, cold uplands of the British Isles. The latter (livestock grazing grass planted as part of an arable rotation) is a key technique, used by farmers to conserve and build soil and, most importantly, to reduce the need for nitrates to be used when growing the following arable food crops. Livestock add natural fertility. Removing them would dramatically, and damagingly, increase the use of nitrogen fertilisers (as well as herbicides, pesticides, phosphates and a whole host of other chemicals needed to grow crops in denuded soils).

And then there are the emissions….. One of the key principles of physics is that matter can be neither created nor destroyed. Therefore, the carbon emitted by the animal hasn’t magically appeared. It is part of the carbon cycle: plants remove carbon from the air when photosynthesising, and lock it into their plant structures (leaves, stems, roots etc). The animal comes along and eats the leaves of the plant, digests it and, hey presto, releases the carbon back into the atmosphere from whence it came! (Comparé this to our cars and tractors which, in burning fossil fuels, are releasing “new” carbon into the atmosphere – carbon that was, ironically, captured and locked into the ground by photosynthesising plants millions of years ago!) It gets better on the grazing livestock front too.

Not only are their emissions of carbon simply putting back the carbon removed from the atmosphere a short while ago, but not all of it is returned to the air. The roots of the grass plants, plus much of the dung from the cattle, gets locked into the soil as “soil organic matter” and, ultimately, as a very stable form of carbon, known as humus. In in other words, grazing livestock have the potential to actually reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Australian scientists have calculated that using livestock to increase the soil organic matter of the worlds agricultural soils by 1% would capture all the fossil-fuel carbon we have released since the Industrial Revolution.

Bring back the cow!”

This was originally published as a comment in The Times in response to an opinion piece on vegans.

Support amongst UK pig farmers and agricultural stakeholders for the use of food losses in animal feed

This research, featuring the results of a survey of 82 pig farmers and 81 other stakeholders  at the British Pig & Poultry Fair on the 10-11 May 2016, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire was published on April 24 2018 in PLOS/One.

Background to the Study including the reasons for the current ban

Food losses, i.e. foods which were intended for human consumption, but which ultimately are not directly eaten by people, have long been used as an animal feed–they have, for example, been fed to pigs since the very domestication of wild pigs, around 10,000 years ago. While food losses continue to be included in animal feed in many parts of the world, the use of food losses in animal feed was all but banned in the European Union (EU) in 2002, after the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak, which is thought to have been started by a farmer illegally feeding uncooked food waste to pigs in the UK.

Current EU legislation permits the inclusion of only a small subset of food losses in animal feed. For example, all food losses containing animal by-products (materials of animal origin that people do not consume e.g. tendons, processed animal proteins) are banned, except for those containing honey, eggs, pig or poultry gelatine, milk products, rendered fats, and collagen, where there is no risk of contamination with other sources of animal by-products [4]. These legal food losses are known as former foodstuffs. The legislation specifically bans catering wastes (i.e. food that has been through a home kitchen or restaurant, making up the 57% of food losses in the EU [5]) and feeds where there is the potential for intra-species recycling–i.e. pigs eating pork products, or chickens eating poultry products.

These regulations deliver a safe food system to millions of Europeans, though they are not without their trade-offs. The current legislation limits the potential for nutrient recycling and a circular economy–food losses that are not used as feed are instead disposed of in less efficient ways, lower down the food waste hierarchy. Recent studies have shown that the relegalisation of food losses in animal feed could cut feed costs for pig producers, reduce the land use of EU pork production by 22% (1.8 Mha), and reduce a host of other environmental pressures. The ban on animal by-products in feed also treats all livestock in Europe as being essentially vegetarian, though, of course, pigs and poultry are omnivorous.

In light of these trade-offs and the existence of regulated systems for incorporating food losses in feed in other countries, there have therefore been intermittent calls to relegalise the use of food losses in feed [2,8–10]. Japan and South Korea, for example, operate systems for safely recycling food losses as animal feed, based on the heat-treatment of food losses (heat-treated food losses are colloquially known as “swill”, though they are marketed as “Ecofeed” in Japan). Heat-treatment disactivates pathogens (such as foot-and-mouth) in the food, renders it safe for use as animal feed, and facilitates these countries recycling ca. 40% of their food losses as animal feed, compared with the 3–6% achieved in the EU.

Still, the debate continues to be polarised, with some arguing that the use of swill is unsafe or unnatural–the UK retailer The Co-operative, for example, banned the use of swill in 1995 —while others argue that the ban was an exaggerated response to a manageable risk. Little work has been done, however, to determine the attitudes of the people most affected by the ban on the use of food losses as feed–namely, pig farmers and workers in the agricultural sector. We therefore conducted a survey to investigate the attitudes of the farming community to the use of food losses as feed.

Abstract

While food losses (foods which were intended for human consumption, but which ultimately are not directly eaten by people) have been included in animal feed for millennia, the practice is all but banned in the European Union. Amid recent calls to promote a circular economy, we conducted a survey of pig farmers (n = 82) and other agricultural stakeholders (n = 81) at a UK agricultural trade fair on their attitudes toward the use of food losses in pig feed, and the potential relegalisation of swill (the use of cooked food losses as feed). While most respondents found the use of feeds containing animal by-products or with the potential for intra-species recycling (i.e. pigs eating pork products) to be less acceptable than feeds without, we found strong support (>75%) for the relegalisation of swill among both pig farmers and other stakeholders. We fit multi-hierarchical Bayesian models to understand people’s position on the relegalisation of swill, finding that respondents who were concerned about disease control and the perception of the pork industry supported relegalisation less, while people who were concerned with farm financial performance and efficiency or who thought that swill would benefit the environment and reduce trade-deficits, were more supportive. Our results provide a baseline estimate of support amongst the large-scale pig industry for the relegalisation of swill, and suggest that proponents for its relegalisation must address concerns about disease control and the consumer acceptance of swill-fed pork.

Citation: zu Ermgassen EKHJ, Kelly M, Bladon E, Salemdeeb R, Balmford A (2018) Support amongst UK pig farmers and agricultural stakeholders for the use of food losses in animal feed. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0196288. https://doi.org/10.1371

New funding from EU linking research with farming practice

This from the Rural Payments Agency, Defra, and the Rural Development Programme for England Network.

The European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-Agri) is part of the Countryside Productivity Scheme. EIP-Agri grants will be available to projects which link research, farming, and forestry practice to encourage innovation and improve productivity and sustainability. It is expected to open for applications in summer 2015.

Who can apply

EIP-Agri is aimed at collaborative groups of:

  • farmers
  • forest managers
  • researchers involved in agriculture or food
  • agricultural or agri-food businesses
  • non-governmental organisations

These groups are known as ‘operational groups’. Only operational groups can propose and carry out projects supported by EIP-Agri grants.

Forming an operational group

An operational group can vary in size – depending on what it is applying to fund – but it must include at least 2 members from different organisations. These can be either new groups or ones that already exist.

How much funding is available

An operational group can apply for a grant worth between £5,000 and £150,000, to fund the cost of running a project for up to 3 years.

What is eligible for funding

When the scheme opens, an operational group can apply to fund aspects of an innovative project.

An innovative project should seek new ways of solving a recognised industry problem that restricts productivity or sustainability, or test out a new approach.

This is likely to involve applying new research, knowledge or technology, or using existing knowledge or equipment in a new way.

The applicant can apply to fund:

  • personnel costs
  • operating or running costs
  • costs arising from promotional activity
  • direct costs

Once a project is completed the operational group will need to share the results publicly.

What isn’t eligible for funding

The following activities aren’t eligible for funding through EIP-Agri grants:

  • stand-alone or initial research
  • capital items
  • existing innovation projects

Before EIP-Agri opens

Register on the EIP-Agri website

Register on the EU EIP-Agri Service Point website to:

  • meet people who may want to form an operational group
  • get project ideas
  • find out more information

Send us an idea

Before the scheme opens, applicants can tell us about their idea by emailing: EIP-Agri-England@defra.gsi.gov.uk

This email should include:

  • the applicant’s name, email address, postal address, telephone number
  • the name, email address and role of others involved in the project who’ll be part of the operational group
  • an outline of the project – including the goals of the plan, the problem it will solve, and how it can be expected to benefit productivity and sustainable resource management.

This outline should be no longer than 300 words.

The information will be used to keep applicants updated on EIP-Agri and to help provide support to operational groups.

Details received from applicants regarding their ideas will not be publicised.

Organic vs Conventional Agric Yields: New research in Royal Soc Proceedings B

Abstract

Agriculture today places great strains on biodiversity, soils, water and the atmosphere, and these strains will be exacerbated if current trends in population growth, meat and energy consumption, and food waste continue. Thus, farming systems that are both highly productive and minimize environ- mental harms are critically needed. How organic agriculture may contribute to world food production has been subject to vigorous debate over the past decade. Here, we revisit this topic comparing organic and conventional yields with a new meta-dataset three times larger than previously used (115 studies containing more than 1000 observations) and a new hierarchical analytical framework that can better account for the heterogeneity and structure in the data. We find organic yields are only 19.2% (+3.7%) lower than conventional yields, a smaller yield gap than previous estimates. More importantly, we find entirely different effects of crop types and management practices on the yield gap compared with previous studies. For example, we found no significant differences in yields for leguminous versus non-leguminous crops, perennials versus annuals or developed versus developing countries. Instead, we found the novel result that two agricultural diversification practices, multi-cropping and crop rotations, substantially reduce the yield gap (to 9+4% and 8+5%, respectively) when the methods were applied in only organic systems. These promising results, based on robust analysis of a larger meta-dataset, suggest that appropriate investment in agroecological research to improve organic management systems could greatly reduce or eliminate the yield gap for some crops or regions.

Ponisio LC, M’Gonigle LK, Mace KC, Palomino J, de Valpine P, Kremen C. 2015 Diversification practices reduce organic to conventional yield gap.

Proc. R. Soc. B 282: 20141396.

Farm Power – new report from Forum for the Future

The report can be found here Farm Power: Exploring the Size of the Prize

The Vision:

By 2020, UK farms and rural communities will be making a significant contribution to a resilient, low-carbon energy system.

We believe that:

  • Despite the pioneering efforts of some, the considerable potential of farms and rural communities to contribute to the energy system remains largely untapped;
  • This potential can be realised in a manner that enhances food production and a variety of other societal goals, including:– the provision of essential ecosystem services, such as improved carbon, biodiversity, water and land management; and– job creation and rural economic development;
  • These broader goals – and the potential for energy investments to support them — must be explicitly factored into decision-making around the UK’s energy future (yet are currently largely ignored);
  • The income provided by energy production will increase the economic resilience of farms – and thus the UK food system;
  • Farm-based energy provides an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between farmers and their communities through mechanisms such as shared ownership and jointly-constructed community energy plans;
  • Investment in sustainable farm-based energy is a means to kick-start the inevitable transition to a smart, dynamic, and increasingly decentralised, energy system.To achieve this vision, the Farm Power Coalition will:
  • Help farmers make informed choices about the best technologies and options for their businesses.
  • Work with Government and business to:

o Break-down the barriers that are stifling investment in sustainable farm-based energy;
o Put in place a supportive regulatory, planning and financial environment;
o Ensure that energy assets are located appropriately, and are designed to maximise co-benefits;

  • Strive to create markets for sustainable farm-based energy, both within local communities, and along the corporate agricultural supply chain (and beyond).
  • Work to ensure that farms and rural communities have easy, fair and affordable access to the grid.

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Soil structure: the use of visual evaluation (VESS) for farmers

by Bruce Ball,

Soils specialist with Scotland’s Rural College

I have a lifelong interest in soil structure – how soil is actually built up. Soil structure determines soil porosity – the space for soil life and for storage and flow of air and water. I work in an international group which develops guides for the description of soil structure based on looking at, feeling and smelling the soil. Our guides are designed to be clear enough for farmers and advisors to use, based either on digging out spadefuls of soil (Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure, VESS #vess) or on inspection of soil in pits (Subsoil VESS). The VESS guides contain pictures of soils grouped into five categories from fine crumby soil (high quality) to hard, compact pans (very poor quality). In use, sample of soil are compared with the photographs and descriptions in the chart and are put into one of the five categories.

pastedGraphic.pdf

The categories are highlighted in red, amber or green. If the soil falls into a red or amber category (cloddy, hard or poorly drained) then the farmer knows that actions such as soil loosening or addition of organic matter or change of crop rotation is required. Use of the guides enables farmers to become aware of the value of their soil resource, how variable it is and how it can be preserved. Occasionally, I hold meetings with farmers where they bring along slices of their soils and we discuss what the soils are telling us and how we can manage them for sustainable use.

pastedGraphic_1.pdf

In light of the damage being done to our soils due to the increasingly extreme weather and restricted crop rotations, my field research focuses on improving soils that have been damaged by compaction and on increasing the ability of the soil to withstand degradation. I have been using VESS in a tillage experiment at Dundee to monitor the improvement in soil structure since the damage caused by the very wet weather of 2012. Minimum tilled soils with low wheeling shows good recovery. Similarly in compaction experiments on grassland at Dumfries and at Harper Adams University College, Newport, we have been using VESS to show how soil aerators and topsoil looseners restore the soil. Restoration can take longer than expected. I have also used VESS in a long term organic farming trial near Aberdeen to show the value of grass within a rotation to stabilise the soil and to develop good structure.

I believe that there are parallels between the development and preservation of soil structure and the conduct of our own lives. The spiritual and ethical connections between soil, agriculture and communities can be seen as a means to improve farming. By developing soil-like qualities of humility and connection, farmers can work better together to share ideas with other farmers and to develop ideas with scientists and advisors to develop practical, applied research on soil management.

I have written a book ‘The Landscape Below: Soil, Soul and Agriculture’ that is due to appear in 2014 from Wild Goose Publications. This is based on my experiences in small agricultural communities and shows how soil can help to restore the powers of spirituality and hidden ideas deep within us all and can re-awaken impulses of cooperation, economy and compassion.

Some publications:

Ball, B.C. and Douglas, J.T. 2003. A simple procedure for assessing soil structural, rooting and surface conditions. Soil Use and Management 19: 50-56. (includes data on organic farming and soil structure)

Ball, B.C., Batey, T. and Munkholm, L. 2007. Field assessment of soil structural quality – a development of the Peerlkamp test. Soil Use and Management 23: 329-337. (includes the VESS guide)

Ball, B.C., Hallett, P.D., Wheatley, R., Griffiths, B., Walker, R.L., Rees, R.M., Watson, C.A., Gordon, H., McKenzie, B.M., Nevison, I.M. and Topp, C.F.E. 2014. Nitrous oxide emissions and minimum tillage, compost application and organic farming. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 189: 171-180. (includes weather effects on greenhouse gas emissions under different types of soil management)

Ball, B.C. 2013. Spiritual aspects of sustainable soil management. In: Lal, R. and Stewart, B.A. (eds) Principles of Sustainable Soil Management in Agroecosystems. Advances in Soil Science book series, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL, USA, 257-284. (includes development of soil-like ideas relevant to alternative or enlightened approaches to agriculture)

Bruce can be contacted at @BruceCBall, Bruce.Ball@sruc.ac.uk

New research demonstrates different farm practices affect nutritional content and value of food

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition (doi:10.1017/S0007114514001366) this study according to lead author Prof Carlo Leifert “demonstrates that choosing food produced according to organic standards can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals. . .This constitutes an important addition to the information currently available to consumers which until now has been confusing and in many cases is conflicting.”

Abstract

Demand for organic foods is partially driven by consumers’ perceptions that they are more nutritious. However, scientific opinion is divided on whether there are significant nutritional differences between organic and non-organic foods, and two recent reviews have concluded that there are no differences. In the present study, we carried out meta-analyses based on 343 peer-reviewed publications that indicate statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop-based foods. Most importantly, the concentrations of a range of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were found to be substantially higher in organic crops/crop-based foods, with those of phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols and anthocyanins being an estimated 19 (95% CI 5, 33) %, 69 (95% CI 13, 125) %, 28 (95% CI 12, 44) %, 26 (95% CI 3, 48) %, 50 (95% CI 28, 72)% and 51 (95% CI 17, 86)% higher, respectively. Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including CVD and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers, in dietary intervention and epidemiological studies. Additionally, the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventional crops, which also contained significantly higher concentrations of the toxic metal Cd. Significant differences were also detected for some other (e.g. minerals and vitamins) compounds. There is evidence that higher antioxidant concentrations and lower Cd concentrations are linked to specific agronomic practices (e.g. non-use of mineral Nand P fertilisers, respectively) prescribed in organic farming systems. In conclusion, organic crops, on average, have higher concentrations of antioxidants, lower concentrations of Cd and a lower incidence of pesticide residues than the non-organic comparators across regions and production seasons

A piece in the Guardian (Friday July 11) outlines the various — and rather expected –criticisms that have been levelled at the research.


No-till and soil carbon sequestration: does it work?

Soil Science of America

Madeline Fisher

May 5 2015

For the past 20 years, researchers have published soil organic carbon sequestration rates. Many of these findings have suggested that soil organic carbon (SOC) can be sequestered in soil, or stored long-term, simply by switching from conventional tillage to no-till systems.

Corn planted into no-till corn residue in 2008 near Minden, Iowa. Photo: USDA-NRCS

But a growing body of research indicates that no-till systems in corn and soybean rotations without cover crops, small grains, and forages may not be increasing SOC stocks at published rates.

“Some studies have shown that both conventional and no-till systems are actually losing soil organic carbon stocks over time,” says University of Illinois soil scientist Ken Olson. Factors other than tillage that can cause losses include aeration, drainage, more intensive crop rotations, use of synthetic fertilizers, and lack of cover crops.

Olson and a team of senior researchers from universities in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio recently reviewed the soil science and tillage literature related to SOC sequestration, storage, retention, and loss. After examining hundreds of original research and summary papers, the scientists selected 120 papers for review and analysis.

Their review uncovered many conflicting results. For example, no-till systems on sloping and eroding sites retain more SOC in the top 0 to 15 centimeters of soil when compared to conventional systems, because the soil is disturbed less and thus erodes less. But deeper soil layers can tell a different story.

“The subsurface layers also need to be sampled and tested to the depth of rooting, or 1 or 2 meters,” Olson says. “That no-till subsurface layer is often losing more soil organic carbon stock over time than is gained in the surface layer.”

Another reason for inconsistent results among studies, the review found, is that different scientists use different definitions of SOC sequestration. Olson’s team proposes its definition as: the process of transferring carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil of a land unit through plants, plant residues, and other organic solids, which are stored or retained in the unit as part of the soil organic matter (humus).

To claim SOC is truly being sequestered, the researchers also state that management practices must cause an increase in net SOC from a previous pre-treatment baseline, as well result in a net reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. In other words, carbon that doesn’t come directly from the atmosphere but from elsewhere outside the land unit cannot be counted as sequestered SOC. These external inputs may include organic fertilizers, manure, topsoil, or natural inputs such as sediments in floodplain and depressional soils.

The team also identified a number of other study factors that could lead to errors in reported SOC sequestration rates such as not including eroding and sloping sites in summary studies; lack of soil bulk density measurements; use of different SOC lab methods over a long-term study; natural variability not captured by the sampling scheme; only sampling plot areas once when trying to determine rates of change; and several others.

A final key finding of the team’s study relates to the method used to measure SOC rates. “In this review, both the ‘paired comparison’ and the ‘pre-treatment’ SOC methods were tested using the same plots and experiment,” Olson says.

The results of this work  showed that the paired method (i.e., no-till versus conventional) overestimated SOC sequestration as compared with the pre-treatment method, where both no-till and conventional are compared to the same pre-treatment baseline. And “another flaw in the paired comparison method is that the results cannot be validated where no pre-treatment baseline is available,” Olson adds.

The team therefore recommends: (1) that researchers who are trying to measure SOC sequestration rates no longer use the paired comparison method, and adopt the pre-treatment method instead, and (2) that existing long-term studies of SOC sequestration rates be stopped temporarily and sampled following the SOC sequestration protocol outlined by Olson’s team.

Read more in the two open access articles:

Experimental Consideration, Treatments, and Methods in Determining Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration Rates,” authored by Kenneth R. Olson, Mahdi M. Al-Kaisi, Rattan Lal, and Birl Lowery, in the Soil Science Society of America Journal and is available at: https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/sssaj/articles/78/2/348.

“Soil organic carbon sequestration, storage, retention and loss in U.S. croplands: Issues paper for protocol development,” authored by Kenneth R. Olson, in Geoderma: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016706112004211.

Source: University of Illinois press release

How to succeed in dairy farming: you don’t need £millions

This Nuffield Farming Scholarship Report by Joe Delves (August 2013), says if you put values and attitudes first, the rest will follow.

Alan Spedding (RuSource) summarises Delves’ thesis in two separate reports

First:

“You need to invest an equal amount of time into yourself, your family and your business. Focussing mainly on settling debt may mean the business loses flexibility. Structure the business so that it doesn’t revolve around just one person. Shy away from the low paid jobs. Work out what you want your staff to achieve and stick it on the wall. Encourage then and discuss your decisions with all of them. Find ways to tap new sources of labour.”

and second

“First establish your long term goals and keep focussed on them. Don’t expect a clear career ladder – make your own. Get jobs with successful farmers. Become disciplined with your money as soon as you can – generate cash from effective budgeting. Concentrate on honesty, reducing bad habits and focus your social life to support your goals – build your reputation as well as your career. Rearing young stock is a good way to start creating wealth. Vendor financing and share farming can both help to get you started.”

Study finds organic milk from pasture fed cows healthier than conventional

This US study (involving researchers from Newcastle University) on Organic production and nutritional quality of milk was published on December 9 2013 in the open-source journal PLOS ONE.

NB The U.S. National Organic Program (NOP) requires that lactating cows on certified organic farms receive at least 30% of daily Dry Matter Intake (DMI) from pasture during that portion of the year when pasture grasses and legumes are actively growing, with a minimum of 120 days per year. Pasture and conserved, forage-based feeds account for most of the DMI year-round on a growing portion of organic dairy operations in the U.S.

Abstract:

Over the last century, intakes of omega-6 (v-6) fatty acids in Western diets have dramatically increased, while omega-3 (v-3) intakes have fallen. Resulting v-6/v-3 intake ratios have risen to nutritionally undesirable levels, generally 10 to 15, compared to a possible optimal ratio near 2.3. We report results of the first large-scale, nationwide study of fatty acids in U.S. organic and conventional milk. Averaged over 12 months, organic milk contained 25% less v-6 fatty acids and 62% more v- 3 fatty acids than conventional milk, yielding a 2.5-fold higher v-6/v-3 ratio in conventional compared to organic milk (5.77 vs. 2.28). All individual v-3 fatty acid concentrations were higher in organic milk—a-linolenic acid (by 60%), eicosapentaenoic acid (32%), and docosapentaenoic acid (19%)—as was the concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (18%). We report mostly moderate regional and seasonal variability in milk fatty acid profiles. Hypothetical diets of adult women were modeled to assess milk fatty-acid-driven differences in overall dietary v-6/v-3 ratios. Diets varied according to three choices: high instead of moderate dairy consumption; organic vs. conventional dairy products; and reduced vs. typical consumption of v-6 fatty acids. The three choices together would decrease the v-6/v-3 ratio among adult women by ,80% of the total decrease needed to reach a target ratio of 2.3, with relative impact ‘‘switch to low v-6 foods’’ . ‘‘switch to organic dairy products’’ < ‘‘increase consumption of conventional dairy products.’’ Based on recommended servings of dairy products and seafoods, dairy products supply far more a-linolenic acid than seafoods, about one-third as much eicosapentaenoic acid, and slightly more docosapentaenoic acid, but negligible docosahexaenoic acid. We conclude that consumers have viable options to reduce average v-6/v-3 intake ratios, thereby reducing or eliminating probable risk factors for a wide range of developmental and chronic health problems.

The study authors: Charles M. Benson and Donald R. Davies, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, United States of America,

Gillian Butler and Carlo Leifert, School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University, Northumberland NE, United Kingdom

Maged A. Latif, Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative/Organic Prairie, Lafarge, Wisconsin, United States of America