Margaret Mellon

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About the author: Margaret Mellon is a respected expert on sustainable agriculture and the potential environmental risks of biotechnology. She holds a doctorate in molecular biology and a law degree. Now a private consultant, Dr. Mellon was the founding director of the UCS Food and Environment Program. The views expressed in her posts are her own.

Place-Based Food Right Here at Home

In my last post I discussed the wonderful Danish restaurant Noma, which is out there on the cutting edge of international place-based food.

I will long savor that experience, but my excursion into the world of high-end cuisine was a rare treat. Of course, I didn’t have to go to Copenhagen for action on the place-based food front. There is a lot going on right here near my home in Washington, D.C. Read More

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The Ultimate in Place-Based Eating

The day, like many winter days in Copenhagen, was chilly, gray, and drizzly. That didn’t discourage my friends and me on a recent trip to Denmark as we took a long walk across the city. We were on our way to Noma–named three times the Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant magazine.  Read More

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Get Really Smart About Antibiotic Use: Don’t Ignore Animals

“Although previously unthinkable, the day when antibiotics don’t work is upon us. We are already seeing germs that are stronger than any antibiotics we have to treat them.”

Those are the words of  Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, Associate Director for Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Programs, as the CDC kicked off Get Smart About Antibiotics Week 2012, this year’s installment in the agency’s campaign to reduce the use of antibiotics in human medicine. Read More

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The Transition To Crop Rotation: How Do We Get There?

Recently, we have seen a flurry of stories about studies done on Iowa State University’s Marsden Farm demonstrating the power of crop rotation as an engine of modern sustainable agriculture. The study documented high yields and handsome profits on farming plots employing long crop rotations: three-or four-year rather than the usual two-year corn-soy rotations. In addition to high yields and high profits, the long rotations controlled weeds with only sparing use of herbicides and maintained productivity without excessive use of chemical fertilizers. Read More

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Rachel Carson’s Nightmare: Herbicide-Tolerant Weeds

It is ironic that a new scientific paper documenting U.S.agriculture’s mounting dependence on chemical pesticides should appear only weeks after the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Read More

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Reasons to Buy Organic: Let Us Count the Ways

No more peaches, no more blackberries! As my colleague, Jeff O’Hara, and I pore over the list of fruits and vegetables coming in our shared community supported agriculture (CSA) delivery, we are facing the sad fact of seasonal eating. Seasons end. Yes, we will still get tomatoes and butternut squash—but oh what a summer this has been for berries and peaches. Read More

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Coping With Drought: How to Build a More Resilient Agricultural System

Although I live on the East Coast far from the current drought, I get periodic reports from the front lines from my sister, who lives with her husband in eastern Kansas on 70 acres of grass and woodland. When I visit them next week, I’ll see for myself the brown expanse of grass that used to be their lawn and the ever-lower water level in the catfish pond. They have harvested their hay field early and stored it to help feed their three horses, especially important now that local hay supplies are tight and prices are skyrocketing. Read More

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The Trojan Horse of Biotechnology

I am sitting at my desk looking at a slim report published in March 1990 at the dawn of the crop biotechnology era. On the matte blue cover are pictures of a then-new commercial equation: a small corn plant enclosed in a chemistry flask and a big barrel of herbicide. The report, “Biotechnology’s Bitter Harvest: Herbicide Tolerant Crops and the Threat to Sustainable Agriculture,” * asked whether herbicide-tolerant crops (HTCs) are a wise use of this powerful new technology. Read More

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The Government Should Collect Antibiotic Use Data

Pork producers are trumpeting the findings of a new study, led by Dr. Michael Apley of Kansas State University, which estimates that the industry is giving some 2.8 million pounds of medically important antibiotics to pigs each year. Read More

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Take A Bite (of Meat) Out of Global Warming

What’s the biggest dietary change you can make to reduce global warming emissions? Eat less meat, especially beef. “But I love steak, chicken, and pork,” you say. “There must be another way to fight global warming!” Actually, there is. According to UCS’ new book, Cooler Smarter: A Practical Guide to Low-Carbon Living, eating less meat is just one of the many choices you can make to reduce your personal global warming emissions. Read More

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