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Posts Tagged ‘crops’


Before the post, I would just like to say that I broke another landmark for my blog: 300 views in one day.

The United States Agricultural Secretary Ed Schafer will be traveling to a UN global foot crisis summit in Rome.  There he will propose biotechnology as a strategy to boost agricultural production worldwide. 

At this point, the United States is contributing more than 50 percent of all the world’s food aid.  Schafer says, “the world’s other developed nations have an obligation to provide food efficiently without obstructing access to it or limiting safe technologies to produce it.”  To combat world hunger the US will propose a three-step plan.

Genetically Modified Wheat Can Fare Much Better in Certain Conditions than its Non-Altered Counterpart

The US will focus its humanitarian aid to countries that are unable to meet minimum nutrition standards.  It will also support research to find the underlying causes of food scarcities in the developing countries.  The third part is a US proposal “that all countries consider strategies that expand research, promote science-based regulations, and encourage innovative technology — including biotechnology.”

Naturally, many people don’t like this idea.  For me, I don’t see a problem with this.  Although it is a recently discovered science, it has huge potential to help people where crops are dying because of droughts, frosts, heat, disease, or insects.  People have been genetically manipulating plants for ages through methods like grafting.  Through biotechnology and bioengineering, scientists simply go straight for the source (the genes) and speed up the process.

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dust.jpg

A picture of the Dust Bowl

The Earth is running out of soil.  Great?  You always hear about global warming and acid rain and pollution, but never anything about the poor soil conditions of the planet.  A new study compiled by Dr. David Montgomery at the University of Washington says that current farming practices are causing soil to erode faster than more soil can be produced. 

Plowed land, Montgomery discovered, erodes at a bit over one millimeter every year, while the world only creates about 0.2 millimeters annually.  He also calculated that soil at an average thickness will be completely depleted within several thousand years.  This amount of time corresponds horrifyingly well with how long many of the great civilizations, including the ancient Mayans, have lasted.   And at the rate with which we plow and farm the soil, this number may be smaller for our current civilization. 

soil.jpg
An example of soil erosion.

Do not despair however, as there is a cure to this ailment.  No-till agriculture is a process in which a specialized drill inserts seeds into the ground without destroying the top layer of soil.  The problem with this is that only about sixteen percent of United States farmers use this method of agriculture.  Worldwide, the percentage is even smaller (only 5%), probably because poorer farmers cannot afford to purchase the equipment.  Yet, if we continue on at the rate we are going, we may all be gone within a few thousand years because of lack of food.  Thus all of our accomplishments will literally be “dead as dirt.”

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