The number of people affected by food shortages is starting to rise again. Is the solution a new biotech version of the Green Revolution, or a green Green Revolution based on organic farming? The New York Times brought together six experts to address those questions. Most fall squarely on one side of the fence or the other, but I'm interested in the more balanced opinion of Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. I've done a lot of research on agriculture issues recently, both for National Geographic News and Discover magazine, and Foley's "third way" seems to make the most sense to me, in context with what I've been hearing from global agriculture experts.
Currently, there are two paradigms of agriculture being widely promoted: local and organic systems versus globalized and industrialized agriculture. Each has fervent followers and critics. Genuine discourse has broken down: You're either with Michael Pollan or you're with Monsanto. But neither of these paradigms, standing alone, can fully meet our needs.
Rather than voting for just one solution, we need a third way to solve the crisis. Let's take ideas from both sides, creating new, hybrid solutions that boost production, conserve resources and build a more sustainable and scalable agriculture. There are many promising avenues to pursue: precision agriculture, mixed with high-output composting and organic soil remedies; drip irrigation, plus buffer strips to reduce erosion and pollution; and new crop varieties that reduce water and fertilizer demand. In this context, the careful use of genetically modified crops may be appropriate, after careful public review.
Can Biotech Food Cure World Hunger, in the New York Times, via the Science and Development Network.
Thirty years ago today, the Voyager 1 spaceprobe had completed its ncounters with the outer planets and was careening out of our solar system. The time came to shut off the probes’ cameras to preserve power and memory for the other onboard scientific instruments. But before engineers flipped the switch, one last photo opportunity was […]
While scientists have studied Moon rocks for 50 years, researchers have for the first time conducted deep analysis on a single grain of lunar dust, atom by atom. Using a common materials science technique called atom probe tomography that’s not widely used by geologists, the Chicago Field Museum’s Jennika Greer and colleagues probed the grain […]
This is so amazing. Watch what happens when a blacksmithing anvil is lowered into a large vat of pure liquid mercury. Update: One of our readers posted the link to the original video in the comments. I have replaced the animated GIF. Thanks, Crispy75. [H/t Alberto Gaitán via Bryce Lynch] Image: Screengrab from GIF
While we all love our iPhones and iPads, celebrating the releases of their latest and greatest versions, it’s amusing to consider how much we at the same time HATE the main item that keeps these little tech marvels powered up and working. No, Lightning cables don’t exactly inspire feelings of awe and wonder. It’s more […]
Every family is chock full of stories. Stories of history, stories of memory, stories of accomplishment and stories of love. From a grandparent’s tales of life decades ago to a couple’s first meeting to amazing life experiences and moments that you wish could be preserved for future generations. Unfortunately, we all don’t have the literary […]
Minimalism isn’t just trendy, it’s also wise. Clearing clutter and keeping things simple in your home is great for both your mind and for the earth. Bring that movement to your bedside when you replace just about everything on and around your nightstand with the Tree of Light: Wireless Charger + Bluetooth Speaker + LED […]