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Posts Tagged ‘sustainable agriculture’

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

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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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USDA to Tackle 2,4-D-Resistant Engineered Crops Without Needed Regulations

It is encouraging that USDA will produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for crops resistant to 2,4-D or dicamba. These crops, through the herbicides they are designed to use, have potential to cause substantial environmental and human harm, especially due to drift and volatility. Weed scientists have projected dramatically increased use of these herbicides, and herbicides in general, if these crops are approved. 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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Its Master’s Voice: The FDA’s Dependence on Drug Industry Fees

I’ve spent many years wondering why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been so slow to curb the rampant overuse of antibiotics in agriculture. Read More

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The Birds and the Bees…and the Neonicotinoids

Spring has arrived. You can feel it in the air, the brighter sunlight slanting at a steeper angle, and the song of birds that have arrived from exotic winter homes. If you are not a night owl, you might wake up early enough to listen to the energy and excitement of the dawn chorus starting off the day. Read More

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