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Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

Let’s Drop “Feed The World”: A Plea To Move Beyond an Unhelpful Phrase

After years of participation in public discussions about agriculture, I’ve developed something of an allergy to the catchphrase “feed the world.”

It seems to come up with depressing regularity to justify, among other things, pesticides, industrial-scale monoculture, and biotechnology, all of which we must embrace—all together now—to feed the world. What gets under my skin is that the phrase is so often used by advocates of high-input American corn and soybeans, who otherwise seem not terribly concerned about problems of hungry people or farmers in developing countries. Read More

Categories: Food and Agriculture  

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The $11 Trillion Reward (Or, How Congress Could Improve Health, Save Lives, and Shrink the Deficit in One Easy Step)

It’s August in Washington, DC, and that means two things—the tomatoes at my farmers market are juicy and delicious, and Congress has cleared out and gone home. Both highly anticipated events, but this year, the two are linked in an unusual way.

You see, when Congress split last week, they left a critical piece of food and farm legislation to grow cold on their plate. And while you might think that the “Farm Bill” is mostly of interest to farmers, a new report unveiled by UCS this week shows that we all have a huge stake in what Congress does (or doesn’t do) with this legislation. Read More

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Genetic Technology’s Answer to A Major Insect Pest

It’s a huge insect pest problem on soybeans, one of the country’s major crops. A recent paper estimates that it costs growers 2 to 5 billion dollars annually in lost productivity and insecticide use. But fortunately technology has an answer—several genes that control the pest, and can reduce or eliminate the need for chemical insecticides that harm people and the environment. Read More

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Cover Crops Dramatically Increase Corn Yields–Especially In Drought Conditions

Farmers planting crops that can’t be sold? That doesn’t sound like a sensible proposition, does it? After all, seed cost money and so does the equipment to get them in the ground. Why grow ‘em if you can’t sell ‘em? Read More

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Refocusing the Farm Bill

The current farm bill debate is unprecedented, shaking to its very foundation the powerful alliance of commodity and food stamp interests that has driven farm bills for decades. The failure of the House to include a nutrition program in its version of the farm bill, while lavishing public monies on farmers to encourage commodity crop production, is the height of hypocrisy…and mean-spirited as well. Read More

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Risk Assessments Are Missing Harmful Effects of Neonics on Honey Bees

As Rachel Carson noted in her seminal book Silent Spring, a quiet landscape can speak volumes. Lately the buzz of bees going about their invaluable work is getting softer and softer…and in some places, it is just about inaudible. Read More

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Gene Silencing: New Products and New Risks

The J.R. Simplot Co. just filed a petition asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to grant non-regulated status to potatoes genetically engineered (GE) to reduce bruising and suppress levels of acrylamide, a neurotoxin occurring naturally in cooked potatoes. Read More

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Pesticide Use is Actually Much Greater Than Reported

In a revealing article in the Wall Street Journal, Ian Berry explains how resistance to an engineered Bt gene by corn rootworms is leading to reversals in the trend toward declining insecticide use on corn in the U.S. Resistance was first discovered by entomologist Aaron Gassman, as we reported, about two years ago. Read More

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UCS Vision for Healthy Farms in the 21st Century: Agroecology has the Answers

Agriculture is at a crossroads. While highly productive in the U.S., it is also destructive of the environment, vulnerable to climate change, and highly resource intensive. In short, it is unsustainable. Read More

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Toxic Algae and No-Till—The Environmental Darling of Industrial Agriculture and Genetic Engineering Looks Less Attractive

Read attempts to defend the sustainability of industrial agriculture and genetic engineering, and you will soon encounter no-till, or more generally, conservation tillage. Now it appears that no-till may be contributing to some serious environmental problems. Read More

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