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Saving Nature and Improving Agriculture: Where does Nature’s Wisdom Lie?

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Thank you for joining us!  This symposium was held in the CUB Jr. Ballroom on WSU Pullman Campus on October 28th, 2014.  A BIOAg poster session was held in conjunction with the event.  Poster session details HERE.

3:30 pm – BIOAg poster session opened

4:10 pm – Welcome; presentation by Emma Marris

5:20 pm – Refreshment break and BIOAg poster session

6:00 pm – Presentation by R. Ford Denison

7:00 pm – Panel discussion with Marris and Denison

7:30 pm – Close

Emma Marris
Emma Marris

The symposium began with a presentation from Emma Marris, author of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. Marris has written for many magazines and newspapers, including Slate, National Geographic, the New York Times and the scientific journal Nature, where she was on staff for about five years. Her book highlights alternative conservation strategies that do not focus on holding or returning land to a historical baseline. From managed relocation of species threatened by climate change to the embrace of so-called novel ecosystems, Marris champions a blurring of the lines between nature and people, and a conscious and humble care of our humanized planet.

During a break, the symposium featured a poster session highlighting projects funded through the CSANR BIOAg program. Refreshments were served.

R. Ford Denison
R. Ford Denison

The symposium’s second speaker was R. Ford Denison, professor in Ecology and Evolution at the University of Minnesota, and fellow in the College of Agriculture. Denison is author of Darwinian Agriculture: How Understanding Evolution Can Improve Agriculture. In this book, Denison presents a new approach to the challenge of producing more food while using land, water and other resources more efficiently and without sacrificing long-term sustainability. He shows how both biotechnology and traditional plant breeding can use Darwinian insights to improve crop genetics while avoiding dead ends. He also argues against the blind mimicry of nature in agriculture but rather shows how a more sophisticated view of species in their native habitat can be beneficial.