SkeptEco #1 – Can organic farming feed the world?
This is the first podcast from Skepteco in which we discuss the scientific basis for organic farming practices and ask the question: if most of the world’s agriculture was converted to organic, would yields be good enough to feed the world?
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with Eoin O’Callaghan, Naomi Fein, Christina,Michael and Graham.
Special thanks to Andy Ra for providing the music
and Michael and Christina for the editing
Papers and articles referred to in this podcast:
The impact of organic farming on biodiversity in Britain
SkeptEco #2 – Genetically Engineered Food
Genetic Engineering- perhaps one of the most contentious environmental issues of all. For many, the phrase summons up images of “Frankenfoods” and tampering with DNA seems akin to “Playing God”. Certainly, GE crops evokes powerful responses, and is one of the few issues- in common perhaps with some animal rights activism and anti-abortion attacks in the US- that is considered fair game for direct action. In Ireland and the UK at least, activists have repeatedly pulled up field trials of GE crops, and a Europe-wide ban is still in place.
Concerns about GE food crops include the potential for the creation of “superweeds” in the case of Round-up-Ready crops; possible health effects from eating these crops; and a fear of gene-flow from GE crops contaminating wild plants.
Perhaps the main objection however is a deep and pervasive distrust of the big companies like Monsanto who have developed these crops: is it just for profit? Or do their claims that GE crops could help feed the world’s growing population, and help reduce pesticide and fertiliser use, stand up to scientific scrutiny?
In this podcast the SkeptEco team explain what GE actually is, how it is currently being used, and review the current scientific literature for health, environmental and sustainability issues.
Links, References, and Further Reading mentioned in this Podcast
Tomorrow’s Table- Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food Ronald and Adamchuk
Whole Earth Discipline Stewart Brand Atlantic Books 2009
Review on Zone5
Public Research and Regulation Initiative comments on Dr. Ermakova’s study
National Academy of Sciences Report, April, 2010
“Genetically Engineered Crops Benefit Many Farmers, But The Technology Needs Proper Management to Remain Effective”
Gliessman, S.R. 2006. Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems (2nd Edition). CRC Press
Pollan, M. 2001. The Botany of Desire: A plant’s-eye view of the world. Random House.