“I see circumstances under which it could be useful for short-cutting a process that for traditional breeding might take many plant generations,” says Tom Willey, an organic farmer emeritus from California. The disruption of natural ecosystems is a major challenge to agriculture, Willey told me, and while the problem cannot be wholly addressed by genome editing, it could lend an opportunity to “reach back into genomes of the wild ancestors of crop species to recapture genetic material” that has been lost through millennia of breeding for high yields.
Debunking too often tends to be a team sport and just because it’s inevitable, doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. In food and farm issues, only biotech drives more debunking than the Organic vs Conventional debate. When you are responding to misinformation the “other” side has already defined the terms of the debate and it’s hard to bust out of those frames. Often that means the big picture gets lost.
Recent reporting on organic dairy production in the Washington Post underscores a preoccupation with the aesthetic appeal of organics and little interest in the environmental impacts.
Alison Van Eenennaam explains how the Washington Post recently conflated organic with grass fed in an exposé of Aurora Dairy a massive organic dairy in Colorado.
Whoever thought that France and organic agriculture would be world leaders for the introduction of GE (genetically engineered) wheat? A stretch? Not as much as it might seem. What follows is the story of how plant breeders engineered a unlikely new crop through a series of sophisticated “conventional” techniques to move a use gene from a wild plant into wheat, despite the fact that the two plants could not be naturally crossbred.
A new paper shows that when organic farmers employ the conservation agriculture techniques of diverse rotations and growing in polycultures, we see the gap closes to around 9 percent. However, when conventional farmers also employ the same conservation techniques that boost organic yields, the gap widens to over 20 percent. So, why didn’t the authors promote this finding?
A little back of the envelope math looking at the production requirements for feeding the world using nothing but mycoprotein synthesized from atmospheric CO2.
To meet the considerable challenge of ensuring food security for the future, it is imperative to find alternative and sustainable sources of protein, both for direct human consumption and for animal feed. Insect-derived proteins are one possible solution. Insects, especially fly larvae, have many qualities that make them well adapted to animal feed.
As concern about waste grows, researchers and commercial partners around the world are working to turn what’s now being left behind or burned into new, useful products. By doing so, they hope to not only reduce the adverse environmental impacts of agriculture but also provide a new source of income for farmers.
Sewage sludge doesn’t have much value as fertilizer. Could extracting the valuable elements put it to better use?
Robert Paarlberg argues that anti-science environmental groups and corrupt local governments deprive African farmers of the crops needed for progress.
Don’t apologize for GMO commodity crops. Say it loud and proud: These are the biggest innovations in sustainable agriculture of the last three decades.