August 31, 2010

Pt 1: Wheat - This has been a tough year for farmers. Depending on where in the world you live, you might have seen scorching heat, raging floods, severe drought or seemingly endless rain. Any one of those things can turn a bumper year into a big, big problem and when enough of the world gets hit at the same time, it affects the entire planet's food security. (Read More)

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Pt 2: On The Edge - Last winter, Canadian athletes scored some pretty nice hardware at the Vancouver Olympics: 26 medals in all, 14 of them gold. That's more gold than any other country and third place in the overall medals standings. No one doubts that the athletes who brought home those medals made huge sacrifices in order to do it but how would you decide if it was worth it? (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

Today's guest host was Nancy Wilson.

It's Tuesday, August 31st.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that marijuana really can bring pain relief to those in chronic pain.

Currently, the findings explain why the Liberal Party has the munchies.

This is The Current.

Wheat - Darryl Wallin

2010 is on track to be the warmest year in recorded history, both for Canada and the world. All over the globe, it has been a summer of extremes: record-breaking heat, drought and wildfires in Russia, catastrophic floods in Pakistan and flooding in China and parts of North America. It's one of the wettest years in memory across much of the Canadian prairies.

All that extreme weather has meant reduced grain harvests and that has a lot of people worried about global food security. On the Canadian prairies, harvests look like they could end up more than 10 percent below normal and some farmers are faring much worse.

Darryl Wallin is among them. He farms 5,600 hectares (about 14,000 acres) near Margo, Saskatchewan, about 200 kilometres east of Saskatoon.

Wheat - Larry Weber

The losses to farmer's in Canada's prairie provinces is estimated at three billion dollars and it could get worse. A cold snap, and maybe frost, is being forecast for early September. If that comes to pass, it would hit crops that haven't even been harvested yet.

And the picture is bleaker elsewhere. The floods in Pakistan washed away more than 700,000 tonnes of wheat stockpiles. Russia, one of the world's biggest wheat exporters, might have to import wheat this year. According to the International Grains Council, the global wheat harvest probably won't meet the global demand.

As a result, the price of wheat - a staple in much of the world - has been very volatile. To help us understand the consequences of all this, we were joined by Larry Weber. He's an agricultural commodities analyst in Saskatoon.

Wheat - Barry Smit

Before the floods, the United Nations' World Food Program estimated that about 85 million Pakistanis - about half the country - were food insecure. Jane Howard is with the World Food Program and she says that thanks to the floods, that number is about the get a lot higher.

For more on the relationship between climate change and food security, we were joined by Barry Smit. He's the Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change at the University of Guelph.

Articles: Russia bans grain exports amid drought / Floods cut harvest 15.5%: StatsCan / Economy: Worrying About Wheat


On The Edge

Last February, Canada came out of the Vancouver Olympics with a pretty decent haul of medals. We took home 14 golds - more than any other country - and we came third in the overall medal count, behind the United States and Germany. A lot of hard work, difficult choices and self-sacrifice went into earning those medals.

And there are some who wonder if the cost of those moments of fame and glory are just too high, if the pressure on our athletes is getting to be a bit too much.

The Current's Dominic Girard prepared a documentary about that question. It's called On The Edge and it first aired in January.

Last Word - Katrina Anniversary

Five years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast and the levees that were supposed to protect New Orleans failed. Tomorrow on The Current, we're going to go back to New Orleans to talk to people who survived the storm. We ended the program this morning with what New Orleans residents heard the night Katrina came to town.

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