Join
Search

Posts Tagged ‘sustainable agriculture’

What Are We Doing with our Planet’s Land? A Report from Berlin

I’m in Berlin at the Global Land Project conference, a biennial gathering of about 1000 scientists who study how we Earthlings use our world. I gave a talk on beef compared to other meats in the informal “Pecha Kucha” format, which requires you to use only 20 slides, each displayed for only 20 seconds. It was fun, but the big excitement has been hearing new ideas presented by researchers from all over the world.
Read More

Bookmark and Share

Best of Both Worlds: Preserving Agriculture on the Urban Fringe

Guest Bogger

Eric Christianson, MS Iowa State University
Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture and MCRP Community and Regional Planning

Ames, Iowa

Growing up the son of a corn and bean farmer in northern Illinois, I remember my parents talking jealously about a neighbor who received a generous offer from a developer for his farmland. It seemed a great fortune to me for farmers to be able to profit so handsomely from the expansion of cities. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Corn Belt Farmers Respond to Climate Change

Guest Bogger

Gabrielle Roesch, PhD Student
Iowa State University, Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Sociology

Ames, Iowa

My family’s direct ties to the land ended generations ago, yet I have been drawn to agriculture, food production and the broader issues of natural resource management since I was a child. It likely started picking raspberries for my grandmother on Long Island, and was further fueled by a food security fellowship in Zambia and Ethiopia. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Monsanto Supersizes Farmers’ Weed Problem

So now the Monsanto Company thinks its bad reputation with the public is primarily an air time problem. As the agribusiness giant’s Chief Technology Officer (and recent World Food Prize winner) Robert Fraley told Politico recently, Monsanto has been “absolutely riveted and focused on giving technology and tools to farmers to improve their productivity and yield and we haven’t spent nearly the time we have needed to on talking to consumers and talking to social media.”

Seriously?? Read More

Bookmark and Share

Do We Need GMOs?

Most observers agree that we are facing big obstacles to producing enough food sustainably in coming decades. Issues of distribution and food justice remain paramount, but production must also be adequate, and the huge impact that agriculture has on the environment must be reversed. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Small Insect’s Big Lessons for the Farm Bill: Agroecology and Breeding Top Monsanto’s Industrial Agriculture

My last post discussed the success of public sector scientists who discovered and developed genes in soybean, using conventional breeding, that confer resistance to the invasive soybean aphid. These insects cost US farmers billions of dollars per year.

In contrast, an article in the New York Times in late July used the dramatic example of citrus greening disease, which is threatening the citrus industry in the US, to tout the possibility of GE to remedy challenging pest problems. Whether these will eventually work is far from certain. But we should keep in mind that while such future promises catch the public’s eye, breeding continuously makes significant advances in crop improvement. Read More

Bookmark and Share

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

Bookmark and Share

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

Bookmark and Share

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

Bookmark and Share

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

Bookmark and Share