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January 20th, 2010:

More Bill Gates

Bill Gates has an interesting new post up on the risks of of buying into the false choice between sustainability and productivity:

The global movement to help small farmers is increasingly divided into two camps. On one side is a technological approach focused on improving productivity. On the other side is an environmental approach that promotes sustainability. Productivity or sustainability – they say you have to choose.

As I said during my speech at the World Food Prize in October, this is a false choice that is dangerous for the field of agricultural development.

At a time of rising population and climate change, we need both organic solutions that promote sustainability and the technological approaches that increase productivity – and there is no reason we can’t have them both.

Whatever you think of the man’s operating system, he clearly possesses a different perspective* on the solutions to a whole host of global problems, and the willingness to put his money where his mouth is.

*How could he not, as, perhaps, the most prominent member of that tribe: Geeks Who’ve Changed the World (and found fame and fortune in the processes)?

How to Give an Interesting Research Talk?

Corngrass1 a dominant mutant that keeps maize from making the transition to adult growth. The stalk of a normal maize plant is shown to the left for comparison. According to George Chuck, in some genetic backgrounds where they never flower, corngrass plants are potentially immortal, as cuttings of the stalk can be transplanted to new soil and simply continue to grow. (Normally corn plants are annuals, they stop growing once the end of their stalk turns into a tassel and eventually die off even if they're grown in temp. controlled greenhouses.) Photo courtesy of MaizeGDB.org

Just got back from a great talk given by George Chuck, who works on microRNAs that control the transitions between the juvinile and adult phases of plant development in maize at the USDA’s Plant Gene Expression Center. In trying to figure out why it was such a great talks (besides the obvious, that he had exciting data to present).

The obvious ones I could spot where: (more…)