Harvest is upon us already in the Central Sands and huge harvesters are filling endless lines of trucks with potatoes, green beans and sweet corn—destined to feed the world. These bountiful harvests are already reflecting the results of technological advances in agriculture that are occurring at alarming speed.
Our present day growers are now out-producing their fathers and grandfathers on the family farm by two- and even four- fold by taking advantage of new technology and exceeding the wildest expectations of growers just a decade ago.
In our day to day lives, computers, smart phones and their apps, new methods of communicating, satellites and even drones are in use in every part of society and are advancing so fast that they now define generations. These technologies are also advancing at the same speed in agriculture and changing the way that we produce food.
It is a widely accepted fact that farmers will need to double their production in the foreseeable future in order to keep pace with feeding the world’s population. How is that even possible? (more…)
Image: 3 kinds of genetic engineering defined
By: KJHvM http://www.biofortified.org
The heated battle over using genetic technology in our food systems has continued for over a decade and shows little sign of cooling down. From the early days of herbicide tolerance in corn and soybeans to the fast growing salmon of today, the battle lines are firmly drawn and rarely seem to waiver. On the one hand, concerned consumers in the US, Europe and elsewhere, accuse GM foods of being unnatural and the companies that develop them as business seeking to control the world’s seeds. On the other hand, farmers worldwide have embraced GM foods as an exciting new technology that provides higher yields and allows them to use fewer and safer pesticides to increase the sustainability of their farms.
Well, as we all dig our heels deeper in this battle, a new wave of technological innovations that are set to change the face of the world’s food production systems are quickly ramping-up. The GMOs or transgenics we are familiar with (but that most of us never quite understood at a deep level) involved introducing a genetic trait from one organism into another unrelated one; like it or not, they may be becoming old hat. As science has begun to unravel the intricacies of the genetic code and understand how life works at the molecular level, it may no longer be necessary to put something new into a plant to get a desired end result. The ability to simply tweak what nature already provides in the plant without changing its genetic makeup or adding new traits is a reality. This is the new world of world of cisgenics; simply turning a gene on or off within the plant’s genome or adding a gene from a different cultivar of the same species to elicit traits in that have hitherto been unattainable. In some ways this could be described as the traditional breeding of Mendel on hyper-drive. (more…)
When you ask most people “do you know where your food comes from,” what do they say? Probably “from the grocery store” is the typical flip answer. Read the labels and all too often you find “produce of Chile” or “grown in Mexico” even “green beans from Kenya”! We are spoiled in the US and have come to expect all of our fresh food to be available year round. We do enjoy a truly global marketplace these days, but there is an increasing voice out there that is starting to ask for more details on where their food comes from, so that they can make choices based on broader criteria than what is on the shelf and how much it costs. Most of us know that food comes from farms, and some know where those farms might be located, but only when there is a problem—or a food safety concern—do we really demand to know the details of who grew it, where it was grown and what practices were followed. Now, thanks to the efforts of many people—from citizens to scientists—and new digital technologies, we are beginning to be able to “trace-back” where many of our food products grown in the United States come from. (more…)