James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

November 19, 2009

It never rains but it pours (more analysis of The Organic Center report)

Filed under: agriculture,Feeding the world,Link Posts — Tags: , , — James @ 6:54 pm

Just this morning I was talking about how I’d hope to see more analysis of The Organic Center’s report on genetic engineering’s effect on pesticides. Just a little while ago I was able to point to a discussion of problems with some of the numbers behind the report. Here’s more perspective (this time from Steve Savage on sustainablog), which brings up another key point I didn’t consider. Much of the increase in pesticide use attributed to herbicide tolerant crops actually came in 2007-2008, the same year that food prices spiked around the world:

There is an old saying – “the best cure for high food commodity prices is high food commodity prices.”  When grain prices are high, growers respond by planting more acres (=more chemical use) and by applying more crop protection chemicals to the crop they grow so that less of this more valuable yield is lost to pests.  Its really simple, rational economics.  Also, remember that the irritating, but not large, food price increases American consumers saw in 2007/8 corresponded to a huge swing in the percent of the family budget spent on food in poor countries.  There were even food riots and export restrictions.  The fact that American farmers ramped up production was a good thing for poor people and the chemicals were part of that.

November 9, 2009

The plan on genetically engineered crop info

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — James @ 10:35 am

I tried to tackle it a couple of times over the weekend and ended up being intimidated by the amount of info, and also discouraged at the though of few people would want to read all the way through a long treatise on the subject.

So here’s what I’m going to do instead. Every morning at ~2 AM Pacific Time, a summary of a new genetically engineered crop will be posted on the site. The first one, Canola, should have come out this morning. (Please let me know about any mistakes you spot, or cool facts I didn’t mention.) Once there’s a post for every crop that’s currently genetically engineered, I’ll write up an actual page on the subject with links to all the relevant posts. Anyone who’s interested can point out anything I’ve written that is unclear or misleading, and then a link to that page will go up at the top of the site, next to “home” and “about”, to serve as a resource for anyone who needs it.

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