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Posts Tagged ‘sustainable agriculture’

We Know How to Fix Farming

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack made several recent pronouncements prompted by the growing recognition that climate change will make it harder to grow crops. It was a step in the right direction, but it will take a major shift in money and personnel to make needed changes happen. Read More

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This Happy Hour, How About Pesticide Cocktails?

A recent blog post by Tom Philpott pointed to growing evidence that neonicotinoid insecticide seed treatments of corn are harming bees. There is new evidence that combining several common insecticides, a “pesticide cocktail” in the jargon, may increase harm. Read More

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Crop Rotation Generates Profits without Pollution (or, What Agribusiness Doesn’t Want You to Know)

UPDATE: March 18, 2013, 3:15 pm: See bottom of post for an update on coverage of this story.

Big Ag has worked hard for decades to instill a belief—in farmers, policymakers, and the public—that its chemical-intensive industrial farming methods are more productive than low-input methods, and more profitable for farmers. In recent years, study after study has cast doubt on this view, and now a team of government and university researchers has published perhaps the most compelling data yet showing that more sustainable farming systems can achieve similar or greater yields and profits, despite steep reductions in chemical inputs. Read More

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Many Good Reasons to “Eat Local”

As an analyst and communicator at UCS, I know how difficult it can be to tell a complicated, nuanced story in our sound-bite-oriented media culture. So even though it was not totally surprising, it was still frustrating to find UCS’s position on the benefits of local foods mischaracterized last week in a USA Today article that called local food “trendy,” but asked whether it is “really more eco-friendly.” Read More

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Land Sparing, Water Saving, and the 2012 U.S. Drought

The drought of 2012 has reminded us that water is a scarce resource, even though we pay fractions of a penny per gallon for it and expect that it’ll be there every time we turn on the tap. We depend on it not only for our drinking and washing and especially for the food we eat, but also for generating the electric power on which our economy depends. Read More

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Resilience to Drought Can be Improved…Within Limits

The terrible drought that is wringing the life out of crops over a large swath of the country, especially in the Midwest, has understandably been in the news. There have been warnings about rising food prices, and the cost to taxpayers for disaster relief to farmers and big insurance companies that are subsidized by the federal government. And as with rising energy prices in the past, rising food prices could be another unwanted burden on a fragile U.S. economy. Read More

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GMO Industry All Wet about Drought Tolerant Engineered Crops, But You Can Help Turn the Tide

On Tuesday, June 5, UCS released a report, “High and Dry,” that analyzes the prospects of genetic engineering to reduce crop losses to drought, and to develop crops that use less water. How we deal with losses from drought—the single largest cause of crop loss—and the growing and unsustainable demand for clean fresh water, of which agriculture uses the largest share, are important questions for the coming century. In parts of China, India and the U.S., groundwater sources used to grow our crops are already disappearing or becoming more expensive to tap. Read More

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Midwest Farms: Too Big to Be Sustainable?

On May 10 the National Academy of Sciences sponsored a “weed summit,” to address the threat from weeds resistant to the herbicides used to control them. The immediate motivation for this meeting was the dramatic rise of weeds resistant to the herbicide glyphosate—used in herbicide-resistant GE crops such as soybeans, corn, and cotton that are grown mainly in the Midwest and Southeast. Read More

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Resistant Weeds According to Monsanto—Less than Half the Story

The harm to agriculture from pests that have developed resistance to the premier products of the biotech industry—crops containing Bt insect toxins or immune to the herbicide Roundup (containing glyphosate)—has been receiving well justified attention recently. Read More

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On Sandwich Cookies, Salads, and Subsidies

I just returned from another weekend in New York—as on the last trip, I did a lot of walking and eating.

One of my favorite discoveries this time was the Chelsea Market. One hundred years ago, this sprawling warehouse complex was home to the National Biscuit Company’s bakeries, and birthplace of the Oreo cookie. Today, it houses a wide variety of food purveyors, many of them focused on bringing locally produced ingredients to New Yorkers’ tables. Read More

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