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?

You can subscribe to the podcasts through itunes. Just search for SkeptEco.

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:

Badgley et al 2007 Organic Farming and the Global Food Supply

Goulding and Trewavas 2009 Can Organic Agriculture Feed the World?

Dangour et. al. 2009. Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 90, No. 3, 680-685

Belay et al, 2002

Haynes & Naidu, 1998

The impact of organic farming on biodiversity in Britain

Gabriel et al, 2010

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
OUP 2008

Ronald’s website

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”

Africa Bites the Bullet on Genetically Modified Food Aid

Tom Wagner brings the Lumper back to Ireland

Agbioworld Response to GM Food Myths

GM Free Ireland

Monsanto Response: de Vendomois (Seralini) et al. 2009

Crawley, M.J., S.L. Brown, R.S. Hails, D.D. Kohn & M. Rees. 2001. Transgenic crops in natural habitats. Nature, Vol. 409, pp. 682-683

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.

Trewavas, A.J. & C.J. Leaver. 2001. Is opposition to GM crops science or politics? EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation) reports, Vol. 2, No. 6, pp. 455-459


One thought on “Podcasts

  1. Listening to 2nd podcast …
    Wow, professional & sane. I’ll have to stop praising as it sounds like I’m stalking. But really Richard Black’s position might be vacant soon & you guys could take over.

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