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  • What is Organic Food, Really? Exposing The Agriculture Myths

    Just what the heck is organic food, anyway? When a particular product is certified organic, does that mean the same thing that we imagine it to mean — that the food was raised without pesticides, was grown responsibly and in a non-destructive manner? Well…. maybe not. In a can-o’-worms-openin’ article for Scientific American, Christie Wilcox […] More

  • 5 Successful Reforestation Projects

    Between the Arab Spring, the weird weather, and, well, the Casey Anthony trial, you may have missed the fact that 2011 was proclaimed “The International Year of Forests” by the UN General Assembly. This celebration is long overdue: forests not only provide habitat to animals and plants, but also purify air and water, prevent soil […] More

  • More Evidence of the Importance of Forests: They’re Even Bigger Carbon Sinks than Thought

    Want to see clear connections between environmental degradation and economic struggles? Deforestation provides about as clear a picture as any example: the loss of ecological services (flood control, water and air purification, topsoil protection, etc.) have direct economic impacts ranging from disaster recovery costs to food prices to increased need for health care spending. And, […] More

  • The Greenpeace Australia GMO Wheat Action: A Sad Day For Bread. A Sad Day For Science

    On July, 14, three Greenpeace activists dressed in hazmat suits scaled a fence, and used weed whips to destroy a GMO wheat experiment in Canberra, Australia.  The experiment was being conducted by CSIRO (the USDA equivalent for Australia).  The activists posted video of the attack on You Tube.  They also posted “explanations” by activists who could […] More

  • Damn! 400+ High Temperature Records Broken in US

    It’s still mid-summer, and already over 400 individual maximum recorded temperature records have been broken in the US. Are you starting to sweat? Or were you already? Readers can use a handy feature on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) website to check out just how hot this country is, and how many heat […] More

  • Are High Global Food Prices A New Norm?

      FAO (The food and agriculture organization of the United Nations) released their June estimate of global food price indices yesterday.  The new numbers were mixed, but not encouraging overall. Sugar was up 15% over the month. All the other indices were nearly flat: Dairy up 0.2%, Oils down 0.6%, Meat down 1.5%, Cereals down 1.3%. […] More

  • Rising Temperatures Melting Away Global Food Security

    By Lester R. Brown Heat waves clearly can destroy crop harvests. The world saw high heat decimate Russian wheat in 2010. Crop ecologists have found that each 1-degree-Celsius rise in temperature above the optimum can reduce grain harvests by 10 percent. But the indirect effects of higher temperatures on our food supply are no less […] More

  • Biodiversity: a Metaguide

    Of all the environmental challenges currently facing us, biodiversity loss probably gets the least amount of broad attention… likely because its also one of the toughest to wrap our heads around (yep, even more than climate change). As biodiversity is key to maintaining healthy ecosystems, and life on Earth period, it’s also one of the […] More

  • Growing Goat Herds Signal Global Grassland Decline

    After the earth was created, soil formed slowly over geological time from the weathering of rocks. It began to support early plant life, which protected and enriched it until it became the topsoil that sustains the diversity of plants and animals we know today. Now the world’s ever-growing herds of cattle, sheep, and goats are […] More

  • Apple Crop for 2009: Safest On Record

    The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just published a new version of their criminally misleading, “Dirty Dozen list” based on data from the 2009 crop that the USDA released this spring.  Apples got the questionable honor of topping that list. I know a lot about apple growers and the Integrated Pest Management techniques that they employ […] More

  • cropduster spraying pesticides

    A Rational Analysis of the USDA Pesticide Residue Data

    When the Environmental Working Group (EWG) makes its annual “Dirty Dozen List” of fruits and vegetables with pesticide residues, it does so without paying any attention to which chemicals were found or what level was detected. This is why it is so misleading.  To do the analysis properly does take a lot more “work” – […] More

  • Don’t Let The Environmental Working Group Diminish Your Quality Of Life!

    One of the best things about living in a developed country in the modern world is that we have year-around access to delicious and healthful fruits and vegetables at remarkably affordable prices.  In the last 50 years there has been a dramatic increase in the availability and diversity of produce, and many examples of significant […] More

  • My Dirty Dozen List

    The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a “dirty dozen” list each year based on a criminally misleading interpretation of the USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service, PDP pesticide residue data.  The data actually demonstrates that the pesticide residues on foods are virtually all lower than the strict tolerances that have been set by the EPA.  What the […] More

  • Way Too Much Angst About GMO Crops

    From what I read on various blogs and comment streams, there is WAY TOO MUCH ANGST OUT THERE about GMO crops. Too much angst because every significant panel of scientists that has reviewed this technology has concluded that it is as safe as any other domesticated food crop.  Too much angst because the reality is […] More

  • Bacteria Made Your Lunch – Revisited

    Bacteria are one of the few reasons that I can remain optimistic about future prospects for feeding humanity.  We who are involved in feeding the world face many challenges in addition to population growth (climate change, peak oil, growing Asian middle classes..).  Still, we might just pull it off because we have microscopic friends that […] More

  • Cancer Now Leading Cause of Death in China

    By Janet Larsen Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China. Chinese Ministry of Health data implicate cancer in close to a quarter of all deaths countrywide. As is common with many countries as they industrialize, the usual plagues of poverty — infectious diseases and high infant mortality — have given way to […] More

  • Sustainable Wheat Production Through Intensification

    Last week I had the honor of meeting Dr. Jason Clay, Vice President of the World Wildlife Fund.  We were on the same panel at CropLife America’s second annual National Policy Conference.  Jason got the opportunity to promote his main project which is influencing major commercial entities in the food chain to promote intensification of agriculture […] More

  • Want Better Yield from your Tomato Plants? Pee on 'em…

    I missed this one originally, but researchers at Finland’s University of Kuopio published a paper in 2009 showing that a mixture of wood ash and human urine makes great fertilizer for your tomatoes… one more great excuse for peeing outside! Popular Science gave a run-down of the paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food […] More

  • Whistleblower Casts Doubt On The Integrity Of Organic Certification

    Mischa Popoff is a hard core Organic farming advocate.  He grew up on an Organic farm in Saskatchewan and went on to become a licensed, independent Organic inspector.  He still believes in the ideals of the Organic movement that he traces back to the early 18th century at the dawn of the faith-driven founding of […] More

  • Water Shortages Threaten Food Future in the Arab Middle East

    By Lester R. Brown Long after the political uprisings in the Middle East have subsided, many underlying challenges that are not now in the news will remain. Prominent among these are rapid population growth, spreading water shortages, and ever growing food insecurity. In some countries, grain production is now falling as aquifers are depleted. After […] More

  • Why We Ever Ate Trans Fats In The First Place

    Today I was doing errands and decided to buy a large fry at McDonalds.  I do that occasionally, but I’m always a little disappointed with the flavor.  It was pretty good, but not nearly as tasty as when I bought them as a teenager in the early 1970s.  Each Friday night as I returned from […] More

  • Sustainable Fruit Production: Eliminating "Shrink"

    Many consumers have the noble desire to purchase fruit and vegetables from sustainable sources.  Grocery retailers and food service companies clearly want to be able to respond to this demand.  A “who’s who” of the retail and food service industry have joined the Wal-Mart initiated Sustainability Consortium, which has, among its goals, a desire to define […] More

  • cover crop

    A Vision For Truly Sustainable Fruit and Vegetable Farming

      Many responsible consumers would like to be able to buy fruits and vegetables that have been raised in a sustainable manner, and many retail and food service entities want to be able to respond to that demand.  There are multiple existing and in-process efforts to define “Sustainability” for the specialty crops that make up […] More

  • Smart Population Planning for the Global Family

    By Lester R. Brown When it comes to population growth, the United Nations has three primary projections. The medium projection, the one most commonly used, has world population reaching 9.2 billion by 2050. The high one reaches 10.5 billion. The low projection, which assumes that the world will quickly move below replacement-level fertility, has population […] More

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