Monday, 7 April 2008

genetically modified foods at the farm stand?

In continuing my clear obsession with food:

I'm looking forward to hearing more about Lauren Doucette's project which aims to measure the total energy expended in getting food from field to fork.
It takes as much energy to run the farmer's market for a day as it does to run a household for a year. The newspaper latched onto that stat, though, as Lauren stated but the reporter did not include, such a figure is meaningless until it is compared with other markets. How much does Kroger use? Food Lion? The Kwik-E-Mart? (For a start, consider consumers getting there, producers delivering products, the energy to operate the facility itself, and so on...)
More from World's Fair.

I'm also delighted to hear that for at least some people the organic food movement is more than luddite ideology.

To meet the appetites of the world's population without drastically hurting the environment requires a visionary new approach: combining genetic engineering and organic farming.

This idea is anathema to many people, especially the advocates who have helped build organic farming into a major industry in richer countries.... Most organic farming trade organizations are deeply, viscerally opposed to genetically engineered crops and seeds....

But ultimately, this resistance hurts farmers, consumers, and the planet. Without the use of genetically engineered seed, the beneficial effects of organic farming - a thoughtful, ecologically minded approach to growing food - will likely remain small.

Organic farming alone is too resource intensive--lower yields mean more acreage devoted to agriculture. On the other hand, genetic engineering alone is only a temporary solution in the arms race against insects.
After seven years of pesticide reductions in Bt cotton fields in China, populations of other insects increased so much that farmers had to resume spraying certain insecticides. Organic farmers, by contrast, control these secondary pests by introducing beneficial insects that feed on the pests and by rotating crops to reduce the overall pest populations.
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