Not all plant-based meat alternatives are created equal. For years the vegans among us have chomped down on black bean burgers and seitan chicken balls, alternatively feasting on Tofurky breast and stuffing. Animal rights groups laud the artisanal vegan meatloaf and tempeh bacon as righteous culinary trends. Who doesn’t want to see an end to confined animal feeding operations by voting with your vegan fork? As technological tongue twisters like CRISPR-CAS9 and Synthetic Biology are changing the face of medicine and agriculture, they are also landing directly onto your vegan plate. One of the newest plant-based products is sizzling with gene-editing techniques to create an impossible burger with potential hidden consequences. Continue reading
There is an African proverb that speaks to our modern agricultural dilemma. It is said that “dirty water cannot be washed.” Yet we continue to pollute our waters with our agricultural practices in the heartland of the continent. Corn and soy are planted in vast expanses, modified to withstand extreme applications of pesticides and herbicides. They are also reliant on vast devotions of synthetic fertilizers.
All these agricultural inputs end up in our waterways and drinking water, harming our health and the environment. There is no easy method to “wash away” these pollutants so pervasive in our waters. Continue reading
I remember with no measure of fondness the industry skirmishes that transpired after the GMO disclosure standard was enacted last July. It was a deal that no one on either side wanted. The USDA recently posted 30 questions on their website that will be used to draft their proposed rule. No matter how much you dislike this rule, it’s time to lay down your sword and provide real input to make it as robust as possible. Continue reading
Imagine the primordial forest, a canopy dense with foliage, the floor strewn in dappled light. From the cool boreal woodlands to the tropical forests, trees have sustained complex ecosystems evolving over the millennia of time. Some trees live for decades and even centuries, laying down shade and forest duff, sustaining mosses, insects, birds and mammals. Their seed and pollen spread with the wind sometimes traveling hundreds of miles. What then could possibly go wrong with a forest of genetically engineered trees, a pasture of GE grass or genetically engineered animals? The answer is we don’t really know… but probably plenty. Continue reading
Growing up in the Midwest isn’t as idyllic as it used to be. The family farm has been eclipsed by sprawling thousand-fold acre parcels of corn and soybeans. Typically managed by one solitary man, he spends his spring and early summer days planting genetically engineered seeds and spraying herbicides. Monitors in the tractor map soil temperature and crop conditions, surveying the contours of green expanse and helping the farmer make timely decisions about which herbicides to spray and when. Continue reading