agriculture

For some reason, humans enjoy making predictions of death and destruction. From politicians to fanatical religious leaders, there is a lot of money to be made telling people that Earth is toast.

Of course, the predictions never come true, but that doesn't prevent doomsayers from making more of them. "One of these days, it will be true," they warn, as they wag their wrinkly finger in our faces.

The most famous finger-wagger was Thomas Malthus, who said that the world population would grow so large that we couldn't feed ourselves anymore. He was wrong, but that didn't stop Paul Ehrlich from resuscitating his argument 170 years later in The Population Bomb. He was wrong, too, but that didn't stop Quartz from reanimating this ideological corpse once again.

The...

Last year, Bayer announced its intention to purchase (in cash!) Monsanto. This posed something of an existential dilemma for anti-GMO movements like March Against Monsanto and the Non-GMO Project, which would have to pick a new bogeyman in their war against biotechnology. Making matters worse, Bayer is consistently ranked as one of the world's most reputable companies.

But the acquisition may not go through. Multiple media outlets have reported that European Union regulators are...

People correctly want the food they are putting into their bodies to be good for them and the environment. To satisfy that desire, entire careers have been built extolling the saintly virtues of the "farm-to-table" life that supposedly was simpler and healthier than the conventional, mass-produced agriculture we have today. That's why so many people are willing to pay top dollar for organic food.

Unfortunately, the most common beliefs about organic food are not supported by scientific evidence. The public believes that organic farms don't use pesticides, but they do. People think organic food is healthier,...

Reputations are a funny thing. It takes years to build them but mere seconds to destroy them.

Cargill, a company that provides all manner of agricultural products and services, has managed to ruin its reputation with farmers and science writers in a single tweet. On March 17, the company announced its partnership with the thoroughly wretched Non-GMO Project*, an anti-biotech organization that sticks a goofy "non-GMO verified" label on everything from water to kitty litter.

Here's the tweet:

And the flood gates swung open wide. The backlash was swift, brutal, and...

Food choice should be left as a choice for consumers, but that is not how Michael Pollan, contributing writer at The New York Times, sees it.

Farming and stewardship of the land have always been a part of my life. Growing up in rural Oregon, we lamented that people in cities knew little about agriculture or where their food came from. Despite that, many city dwellers view farmers as enemies of the environment without bothering to drive a few miles to see the careful stewardship of the land that farmers practice every day. 

So, in some ways I am glad the "foodie" movement encouraged people to learn more about agriculture and how farmers provide the food we enjoy.

Anti-Farming Foodies

Unfortunately, that movement, which began as an...

As a greater number of people enter the middle class around the globe, many will turn away from plant-based diets in favor of meat-based diets. This could be a cause for concern, as meat production requires the input of substantially more resources, such as water and energy. The question of how to feed a growing world in a time when wealth is spreading and personal tastes are changing is the subject of some sustainability research.

Outside of the Western world, insect consumption is common. The Chinese, for instance, will eat just about anything that crawls on six (or more) legs. ...

Credit: Shutterstock Credit: Shutterstock

People buy organic food for many different reasons, most of which are factually incorrect. Quite possibly the biggest myth about organic food is that it is grown without pesticides. That is simply untrue. Others have been led to believe that organic food is...

In most parts of America we have a school year that is based on farming. Because of this, summer has no classes - that was created because almost everyone needed three months off to work on a farm and grow food, including kids and teachers. Farming was once so fundamental that in 1862 Republican President Abraham Lincoln created the Department of Agriculture for an obvious reason - because 90 percent of Americans were farmers.

Now, farming is remote. Though 96 percent of American farms are family owned or run, only 1 percent of Americans actually work on them. Rather than requiring 90 percent of a population for food creation, we have gotten so good at farming efficiently that we can feed hundreds...

dandilions-weeds-2-1382522-640x480We ve taken NYTimes columnist Mark Bittman to task many times for his superficial understanding of the food business, economics, or even common sense. His most recent story is no...

Dr. Norman BorlaugAn Opinionator blog posting in the NYTimes entitled Energizing the Green Revolution in Africa discusses some of the agricultural techniques and technologies that have propelled the revolution in crop yields globally. Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug developed and implemented the crop breeding and fertilization techniques given that appellation (Dr. Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, and is credited with saving approximately one billion lives from starvation. He was...