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
August 15th, 2012
August 9th, 2012
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
July 31st, 2012
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
June 14th, 2012
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
May 22nd, 2012
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
March 14th, 2012
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
March 7th, 2012
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
January 10th, 2012
One of the most frequently mentioned benefits of genetically engineered crops is a reduction in chemical pesticide use on corn and cotton. Read More
October 24th, 2011
October 14th, 2011
I’m a small-time urban gardener. I have bigger dreams, but I make do with a collection of containers on my postage stamp of a patio, and a border of perennials, shrubs, and small trees. This month, I’m harvesting the last Sungold tomatoes and a late flush of jalapeño peppers…and wishing I’d gotten my act together to start some fall greens to take their place.
I’m also beginning to think about tucking in the perennial beds with a protective, weed-suppressing, winter blanket of compost and mulch.
And more and more, I’m realizing that I’m part of a huge gardening movement. Read More