Karen Perry Stillerman

Senior analyst, Food and Environment

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Karen Perry Stillerman is an analyst and advocate for transforming the U.S. agriculture and food system to one that produces affordable, healthful foods for consumers; reduces air and water pollution; and builds healthy soil for the farmers of tomorrow. She holds a master's degree in public affairs and environmental policy. See Karen's full bio.

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Karen's Latest Posts

Tim Youngquist of Iowa State University (left) with Larry and Margaret Stone at their prairie strips near Traer, Iowa. This is a first year of growth after frost seeding in the winter of 2015. Prairie plants are coming but have been mowed to keep weeds down. Credit: NRCS/SWCS photo by Lynn Betts

Why “Infrastructure” Includes the Ground Beneath Our Feet

We’ve heard a lot of opinions about what is, and isn’t, infrastructure. Now I’ll add my hot take: Soil is infrastructure. Read more >

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Crop field with runoff

To Save Its Soil and Clean Up Its Water, Iowa Needs to Act Fast(er)

Iowans have long prized their state’s deep, rich soils and its position as an agricultural powerhouse. In the heart of the Corn Belt, its farmers lead the nation in corn acres planted, and come in second in soybean acres. But there’s a dark side to all that: Decades of intensive, industrial-style production of those two crops—and little else—has decimated Iowa’s soil and fouled its waterways, leaving farmers and communities downstream and across the state vulnerable. Among the many issues state legislators are considering this month in Des Moines, soil health and water quality are arguably among the most urgent. And they need to act fast. Read more >

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Heart-shaped chicken nuggets on a tray of fast food

Tyson Foods Wants to Be Our Valentine. Thanks, But No Thanks.

In the latest weird 2021 moment,* meat and poultry giant Tyson Foods is running a marketing campaign involving chicken nuggets arranged into freakish bouquets for Valentine’s Day. Here at the Union of Concerned Scientists, we have some thoughts about Tyson’s Valentine offering to the nation: Read more >

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Secretary Vilsack is no stranger to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Here, he appears at a hearing on the Farm Bill in February, 2015. USDA photo by Bob Nichols/Flickr

Questions for a Once-and-Future Agriculture Secretary

The last time the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) got a new leader, I was decidedly unimpressed. Okay, understatement…I was incensed by a secretary who cared little for science and was fully in the pocket of big agribusinesses (looking at you, Dow). After four years of all that, it’s refreshing to see a new administration listening to scientists and pledging to address the multiple crises we face. At the same time, the hill facing us is steep, and bold actions are needed. Read more >

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Photo: RiverNorthPhotography/iStockphoto

4 Ways Tyson Foods Made 2020 Worse

As you celebrate the season (safely, please!), consider the source of the protein on your plate and its costs beyond the checkout stand. Because the handful of multinational conglomerates that produce and process industrial pork, beef, and chicken in this country are profiting at the expense of workers, farmers, consumers, and the planet. And in an industry full of terrible actors this terrible year, Tyson is perhaps the most terrible. Read more >

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