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Do Farm Bills Drive or Deter Change?

Posted by Chuck Benbrook | February 5, 2014

Farm bills over the last forty years have shaped today’s agriculture systems and technology.  They have done so by setting the “rules of the road” and defining or shaping research and investment priorities.

The new farm bill provides farmers, agribusiness, rural communities, and the food industry a more stable policy framework in which to make investment and planting decisions.  But my sense is this farm bill could mark a historically significant inflection point. Farm bills since the 1970s have tried to become more market-driven, by lessening the impact of USDA farm programs on the choices made by farmers.  Read more »

The Foley Institute Panel: The Science, Ethics and Politics of GMO’s and Your Food

Posted by Chad Kruger | October 25, 2013

In an effort to provide a balanced and pro-active public forum for the discussion of issues related to GMO’s and the I-522 Initiative, Washington State University’s Foley Institute is hosting a lecture and panel discussion on Monday, October 28th. The panel features Michigan State University’s W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair Paul Thompson, one of the world’s most widely known and respected academics for his research on the intersection of ethics and science in GMO technology. I’ve personally read much of Thompson’s work going back to my days as a graduate student and have found his insights very helpful in developing my own “non-expert” perspective on GM technology.

In addition, two WSU Faculty Members with expertise in GM technology and its broader implications, Mike Neff (Crop Biotechnologist) and CSANR’s own Chuck Benbrook will be part of the panel.

This event should be very informative and worth your efforts to attend in person if possible. However, realizing that Pullman is a long trek for many Washington citizens, the lecture and panel discussion will be recorded and broadcast by KWSU.

The recording is now available here: http://foley.wsu.edu/ ; scroll down to “I-522 debate.”

WSU’s Official Policy on Initiative 522.

WSU’s Official Position on I-522, the GMO labeling initiative

Posted by Chad Kruger | September 12, 2013

Several people have inquired about the position of WSU, the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, and the Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources on I-522, the initiative focused on GMO labeling in Washington State. The attached memo from Provost Dan Bernardo and Interim Dean Ron Mittelhammer clarifies that WSU and CAHNRS are officially neutral in relation to I-522. It further explains that while individual faculty members (current and emeritus) have the right to express their opinions as individual citizens, these opinions do not constitute a position for the University or College. This position is consistent with the investments that the University and College have been making in sustainable and organic agriculture research and education over the years, including CSANR. Read more »

No, I won’t stop eating meat to feed the planet

Posted by Chad Kruger | September 6, 2013

Full disclosure: I come from a livestock-producing family tradition and I eat meat. And I like it. A lot.

In his latest provocative post, my colleague Andy McGuire reflects on a new paper that assesses the potential to feed a growing global population by shifting from meat consumption to a vegetarian diet. The paper presents a very compelling scientific rationale for the shift and has Andy contemplating his future dietary choices. Go read Andy’s post – it’s worth your time. In the conclusion of his post, Andy asks readers whether they would quit meat to feed the planet.

My answer to Andy is an unequivocal “No.” Read more »

Forego a Hamburger, Feed a Person

Posted by Andrew McGuire | September 5, 2013

I eat meat. More specifically, I eat feedlot beef from major supermarket chains and generally enjoy it. Nonetheless, the implications of a recent study have me questioning whether I will eat meat in the future. Read more »

A year of this blogging thing…

Posted by Tara Zimmerman | August 22, 2013

Wow! Somehow a year has gone by since we first acted on the idea of a Center-wide CSANR blog, Perspectives on Sustainability. Thanks for sticking with us! Have a look back at director Chad Kruger’s initial post and let us know how we are doing. We always welcome your feedback and topic suggestions, so don’t hesitate to get in touch! Thanks for participating and joining the conversation.

CSANR is blogging! August 22, 2012; Chad Kruger.

No glyphosate-tolerant wheat found by WSU wheat breeders

Posted by Chad Kruger | August 8, 2013

I know that many residents of Washington were extremely concerned to learn about the discovery of glyphosate-tolerant wheat in an Oregon farm field this spring. WSU’s Agricultural Research Center released a news update today indicating that the glyphosate-tolerant gene was NOT discovered in any of the WSU breeding lines (commercialized or in development) nor in other tested lines developed by regional universities and companies. While it’s still not clear how this incident happened, this is certainly great news for the region. Also, I think it is really important to note how rapidly and extensively our breeding programs and administration responded to this concern to protect the interests of the state and our wheat producers.

More detail is available here.

 

A Sobering Reminder of the Importance of Dietary Choice

Posted by Chuck Benbrook | July 16, 2013

A growing number of Americans are learning that doctors don’t have miracle cures for all that ails us.  The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington has just released chilling data on the burden of disease in America, the driving forces behind disease and ill health, and modifiable risk factors for contemporary health problems.

Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Food Systems, Nutrition
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More Independent Science Must be Part of Regaining Public Confidence in GE Food Technology

Posted by Chuck Benbrook | July 2, 2013

The finding of some Roundup Ready (RR) wheat plants in an eastern Oregon field must leave some PNW wheat growers feeling snakebit, since they decided a decade ago to oppose the commercialization of RR wheat until the technology is fully approved and accepted by consumers, both here and abroad.  While this episode has disrupted trade flows and will undoubtedly increase wheat industry testing costs for the foreseeable future, some good could come from it if it triggers a fresh look at why skepticism and/or opposition to genetically engineered (GE) foods is growing in the U.S.  The fate of many new GE crops hangs in the balance, including Simplot’s new potato technology that reduces levels of the known human carcinogen acrylamide. Read more »

Innovative farmers as solution to society’s “wicked problems”: The Vander Haak Dairy

Posted by Chad Kruger | June 27, 2013

About once a year I accept a request to present on the topic of the future of agriculture and food. Usually, when I’m asked to do this, I know that the audience I’m presenting to is hoping for something inspiring – which, if you’ve seen me present, you know is something of an oxy-moron. I have a (somewhat earned) reputation for “doom and gloom” due to the fact that much of the science I work on focuses on the “wicked problems” facing the future of agriculture (e.g. climate change, energy privation, water resources, etc.) which can be daunting. And while I love the scientific pursuit of solutions to these challenges, there are definitely times that it can be overwhelming.

So, when I look for inspiration in my own day to day efforts, I generally think about the innovative farmers I am blessed to work with. I firmly believe that they hold our future in their hands. Read more »

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