tagged w/ soil depletion
NOTE: A highly informative appeal for support from the STOP GE Trees Campaign - a great organisation. For more on their work and how to get involved: http://globaljusticeecology.org/stopgetrees.php?tabs=0
Our plans for the STOP GE Trees Campaign in 2012 and our accomplishments from 2011
The years 2012 and 2013 could be the most important yet for our campaign to ban the release of genetically engineered trees (GE trees) into the environment.
* Countering Phony Sustainability Criteria: The timber industry is moving forward with plans to develop phony so-called "sustainability criteria" for GE trees. This is crucial if they want to get GE trees certified by bodies like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which would make it easier to get investors. Right now the FSC will not certify GE trees.
GE trees are not now and never will be "sustainable." They deplete soils and water, require huge inputs of toxic chemicals, replace native forests, displace biodiversity and forest dependent communities, kill beneficial insects, and worsen climate change. So in order to combat the sustainability lie, we are increasing our work to expose the social and ecological dangers of GE trees.
* GE Eucalyptus Trees in the US South: In January 2011, GE tree company ArborGen applied for permission from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sell billions of their GE eucalyptus trees for commercial plantations across seven states in the US South--from Texas to South Carolina.
We are mobilizing to ensure this never happens.
* GE Poplars in the Pacific Northwest: GE poplar trees are emerging as a major threat in California and the Pacific Northwest. Scientists at the University of Oregon and the University of Washington have received large federal grants to develop genetically engineered poplar trees for bioenergy plantations.
GE poplar trees are extremely dangerous because native wild poplars grow in forests in California and the Pacific Northwest. These native poplars could easily be contaminated with pollen from the GE poplars. This irreversible contamination would be disastrous for forests, wildlife, soils, insects and songbirds. And once GE tree contamination begins, there is no way to stop it from continuing to spread.
We will be escalating our work in the Pacific Northwest in 2012 to stop GE poplars. Let us know if you can help!
The good news--we can still stop the disaster of GE trees before it is too late. Since 1999 we havesuccessfully prevented commercialization of GE trees because of the support of people like you. You enable us to stand up against the largest timber corporations on the planet. Thank you.
Because of our success, the promoters of GE trees name GJEP as the main obstacle to their forward progress.
After we filed a lawsuit against the USDA in July 2010 over their approval of a large field trial of GE eucalyptus trees, Biomass Magazine stated that our lawsuit was scaring away investors from supporting GE tree research because no one wants to invest in a technology that is going to be tied up for years in legal battles. As a result, GE tree company ArborGen decided not to go public with their stock only days before they were scheduled to do so.
The victories of the STOP GE Trees Campaign over the years show the power of grassroots organizing, alliance building, non-violent action and our refusal to compromise.
This is the documentary, A Silent Forest, narrated by Dr. David Suzuki that lays out the threat of genetically engineered trees which are still a threat to the U.S.NOTE: A highly informative appeal for support from the STOP GE Trees Campaign - a... more
Be not troubled by Robert Paarlberg's scaremongering. Organic practices can feed the world -- better, in fact, than wasteful industrial farming.
In May 2004, Catherine Badgley, an evolutionary biology professor at the University of Michigan, took her students on a research trip to an organic farm near their campus. Standing on the acre-and-a-half farm, Badgley asked the farmer, Rob MacKercher, how much food he produces annually. "Twenty-seven tons," he said. Badgley did the quick math: That's enough to provide 150 families one pound of produce every single day of the year.
"If he can grow that quantity on this tiny parcel," Badgley wondered, "why can't organic agriculture feed the world?" That question was the genesis of a multi-year, multidisciplinary study to explore whether we could, indeed, feed the world with organic, sustainable methods of farming. The results? A resounding yes.
Unfortunately, you don't hear about this study, or others with similar findings, in "Attention Whole Foods Shoppers," Robert Paarlberg's defense of industrial agriculture in the new issue of Foreign Policy. Instead, organic agriculture, according to Paarlberg, is an "elite preoccupation," a "trendy cause" for "purist circles." Sure, sidling up to a Whole Foods in your Lexus SUV and spending $24.99 on artisan fromage may be the trappings of a privileged foodie, but there's an SUV-sized difference between obsessing about the texture of your goat cheese and arguing for a more sustainable food system. Despite Paarlberg's pronouncements, Badgley's research, along with much more evidence, helps us see that what's best for the planet and for people -- especially small-scale farmers who are the hungriest among us -- is a food system based on agroecological practices. What's more, Paarlberg's impressive-sounding statistics veil the true human and ecological cost we are paying with industrial agriculture.
Since most of us aren't well-versed in the minutia of this debate, we can't be blamed for falling for Paarlberg's scaremongering, which suggests that by rejecting biotech and industrial agriculture, we are keeping developing countries underdeveloped and undernourished. Paarlberg suggests that we could eliminate starvation across the continent of Africa were it not that "efforts to deliver such essentials have been undercut by deeply misguided ... advocacy against agricultural modernization."
It's a compelling argument, and one industry defenders make all the time. For who among us would want to think we're starving the poor by pushing for sustainability? (At a Biotechnology Industry Organization conference I attended in 2005, a workshop participant even suggested pro-organic advocates should be "tried for crimes against humanity.")
But the argument for industrial agriculture and biotechnology is built on a misleading depiction of what organic agriculture is, bolstered with shaky statistics, and constructed by ignoring the on-the-ground lessons of success stories across the globe.
continuedBe not troubled by Robert Paarlberg's scaremongering. Organic practices can feed... more
Robert Kremer is a microbiologist with the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and an adjunct professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri. He is co-author of one of five papers published in the October 2009 issue of The European Journal of Agronomy that found negative impacts of Roundup herbicide, which is used extensively with Roundup Ready genetically modified crops. Kremer has been studying the impacts of glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, since 1997.
The Organic & Non-GMO Report interviewed Mr. Kremer about his research and the reluctance of the USDA to publicize the findings of the five papers.
Please give me an overview of your research
RK: We started in 1997 wanting to see if this new system, Roundup Ready, would change the production of nematodes in soybean. We started looking at organisms in soybean roots and saw microorganisms colonizing the roots. We suspected that glyphosate was having an impact. There was a root fungi problem that seemed to be encouraging sudden death syndrome (SDS).
We saw the increase of these fungi in the Roundup Ready (genetically modified) system, both soybeans and corn.
What types of things are you seeing in the Roundup Ready system?
RK: This system is altering the whole soil biology. We are seeing differences in bacteria in plant roots and changes in nutrient availability. Glyphosate is very systemic in the plant and is being released through the roots into the soil. Many studies show that glyphosate can have toxic effects on microorganisms and can stimulate them to germinate spores and colonize root systems. Other researchers are showing that glyphosate can immobilize manganese, an essential plant micronutrient.
What are glyphosate’s impacts on beneficial soil bacteria?
RK: The most obvious impact is on rhizobia, a bacterium that fixes nitrogen. It has been shown that glyphosate can be toxic to rhizobia. (Nitrogen fixing bacteria are important to soils because nitrogen is the most commonly deficient nutrient in many soils.)
to be continuedRobert Kremer is a microbiologist with the US Department of Agriculture's... more
Larry Huelskoetler, a family farmer from Beason, IL, a small unincorporated town in central Illinois with a population of about 200, spoke on Monday morning, October 26th, to hundreds of people gathered for the "Showdown In Chicago," a national grassroots mobilization taking place in Chicago against the October 25-27 national convention of the American Bankers Association (ABA). The ABA is a banking industry lobbyist group that "works to enhance the competitiveness of the nation's banking industry." Its members represent over 95 percent of the banking industry's $13.3 trillion in assets. The protests against the ABA have brought thousands of people to Chicago from across the U.S. to demand progressive reform of the financial industry, call to "bust up big banks," and send the message that "the only ones too big to fail are the American people."
Huelskoetler directs Farmers Supporting Independent Agriculture (FSIA), ia Central Illinois-located, faith-based community organization that works to save family farms, preserve local economy, and promote sound stewardship of farmland. FSIA has successfully negotiated low-interest rate operating loans for Central Illinois family farmers who commit to purchasing from local suppliers, worked with farm realtors and farm managers to develop land stewardship best practices, partnered with institutional landowners to craft farmland leases that create sustainable farming incentives, and pushed the University of Illinois to manage its endowment farmland in a more sustainable manner that benefits tenant farmers and local communities. FSIA is a member organization of the Central Illinois Organizing Project (www.ciop.org), the largest faith-based community organization in downstate Illinois, which organized dozens of people to participate in the Chicago rallies and protests against the ABA.
"I'm here to talk to you today about the long-term effects of the decisions that the dishonest Wall Street bankers have done to my community," Huelskoetler said. "Like in many rural communities, family farmers in my area are struggling and having a difficult time with the decisions made by the people on Wall Street."
"I've been farming for 37 years, and 7 years ago a Wall Street investor came and bought the farm that my family has farmed for 50 years. I then talked to the investor. He said, "Give me an extraordinarily high rent and you can continue to farm." I said, "I can't give you that kind of rent and do the job right." He said, "Too bad, I'll bring in a mega-farmer." "
"A mega-farmer is a farmer who wants to be just like the big banks, big enough that he can't fail. But high-risk farming by mega-farmers is becoming a reality. Mega-farm operators are pushing family farmers off the land they have farmed for decades. Mega-farmers can do this because they farm in an unsustainable manner. They work on narrow margins of profit. The risk is so great that these mega-farmers know they can't do the right thing and make a profit, so they don't even put back the nutrients into the soil that the crop takes out."
"Therefore they are stealing from one of our greatest natural resources: the soil. The impact is felt severely. What's left is poorly maintained fields, agricultural runoff, and diminishing productivity at a time when the world's population continues to grow and we have to feed the people all over the world. Large-scale mega-farm operators are bypassing local agricultural suppliers and costing local communities billions of dollars in economic activity every year."Larry Huelskoetler, a family farmer from Beason, IL, a small unincorporated town in... more
As the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15) gets closer, a new agreement has to be signed for the period after 2012. It is becoming clear how agribusiness attempts to gain profits from the massive carbon credits market. Under the term "Conservation Agriculture", Monsanto and other biotech allies have penetrated the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) aiming to get carbon credits for agribusiness. A voluntary 'responsible' label for Roundup Ready soy sponsored by World Wild Life Fund (WWF), and a newly approved Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) methodology are important steps for Agribusiness to get access to this three billion dollar business.
Proposals to include agriculture in carbon offsetting focus on changes in tillage practices and reductions in methane and nitrous oxide emissions. All these practices are included in the concept of "Conservation Agriculture", which is based on three principles: minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotations . However, in the name of Conservation Agriculture and with the explicit consent of FAO and UNFCCC, very different agricultural methods are included. Under this label a range of systems from biological agriculture to No-till GM industrial agriculture can be labelled as sustainable and so receive carbon credits.
No-till is an agricultural technique that requires no ploughing or digging of the soil. When sowing, seeds are drilled into the soil. In general, No-till is considered a conservation practice that increases levels of soil organic matter and reduces soil erosion, but in RR soy industrial monocultures it part of this technique is used in conjunction with very harmful environmental practices.
In practice, Carbon credits for No-till could mean a massive economic support for Genetically Modified (GM) soy monocultures in South and North America and a promotion of this agribusiness model in other Southern Hemisphere regions.
GM soy monocultures are a production model which is not sustainable in any way. In South America, soy production of this kind is one of the main drivers of deforestation, land use change, biodiversity destruction and human rights violations . Moreover, these monocultures sustain the industrial feed industry which is a main cause of climate change as well. To label these agricultural production models as “sustainable” only because they involve less ploughing (no tillage or No-till) means falling into a trap of absurdly reductionism and blindness.
The report "Agriculture and Climate Change: Real Problems, False Solutions" presented in June 2009 reveals the main agriculture-related proposals in the negotiations for a post -2012 climate agreement. It provides an informative panorama on how current and proposed agricultural practices for the post Kyoto agreements really impact on climate change. However, in this article we will focus specifically on some cases related to soy monocultures.
And the current climate bill in Congress aids their scheme which discredits it right from the start.As the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15) gets closer, a new agreement has to... more
As farmers leave the land in record numbers, agribusiness and the associated industrialization of agriculture continue to expand. The consequences—intended and unintended—of this rapid restructuring of our food system reach well beyond the boundaries of what we think of as “the family farm.” The award-winning documentary short, AS WE SOW, documents the stories of survival and failure in the real heartland, a struggle pitting family against family, neighbor against neighbor, citizens against their government, and small, independent farmers against the giants of global agribusiness. At the center is the land itself: who will control it and how, and at what cost to people and communities, to our health and our environment, and, ultimately, to our democracy.
This is an American tragedy not only in regards to destroying agriculture as we know it, but also in regards to destroying the culture and heritage of America.As farmers leave the land in record numbers, agribusiness and the associated... more
"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in a sorry a state as the souls who live under tyrrany."
By Thomas Jefferson ( Founding Father and third President of the United States).
"Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite findings by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. New genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineered foods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government’s lack of regulatory oversight on this technology, and demand labeling of all GE foods so that consumers have a choice in the marketplace.
At the site you'll briefly read what Prince Charles and a few others had to say about Genetically engineered food.
Here is what Pope John Paul II said to 50,000 farmers:
" 'resist the temptation of high productivity and profit that work to the detriment of the respect of nature.' The pontiff added that "when (farmers) forget this basic principle and become tyrants of the earth rather than its custodians ... sooner or later the earth rebels."
"if modern farming techniques don't reconcile themselves with the simple language of nature in a healthy balance, the life of man will run ever greater risks, of which already we are seeing worrying signs."
Sign the petition at the site and stand up for the right to be informed, fight gmo and corporate greed that is destroying our NATURE.
http://current.com/groups/organicgreen/"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they... more
Superb must-read article on the Gates Foundation - Africa's ultimate "strong-man" with the power to make the world bend to its misguided agenda. Good to see this in The Nation and its special focus on food.
EXTRACTS: ...the destinies of millions of the world's poorest farmers are again being shaped by the richest Americans, and philanthropic choices are very different from democratic ones.
In a number of [Gates] grants, for instance, one corporation appears repeatedly--Monsanto. To some extent, this simply reflects Monsanto's domination of industrial agricultural research. There are, however, notable synergies between Gates and Monsanto... and there's some overlap between them. Robert Horsch, a former senior vice president at Monsanto, is, for instance, now interim director of Gates's agricultural development program and head of the science and technology team.
Travis English and Paige Miller, researchers with the Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global Justice, have uncovered some striking trends in Gates Foundation funding. By following the money, English told us that "AGRA used funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to write twenty-three grants for projects in Kenya. Twelve of those recipients are involved in research in genetically modified agriculture, development or advocacy. About 79 percent of funding in Kenya involves biotech in one way or another." And, English says, "so far, we have found over $100 million in grants to organizations connected to Monsanto."
Much more at the link. The article attached is well worth the read. I am truly amazed at the arrogance of these companies and their benefactors telling other countries what they need, especially when it is only for their financial benefit. As the attached article at the link relates, people need access to food and to food sovereignty, not to be held to the whims of the rich.Superb must-read article on the Gates Foundation - Africa's ultimate... more
And without a doubt the main culprit is industrial agriculture. The proliferation of pesticide use and getting away from sustainable agricultural methods such as cover crops, no till farming, etc. have depleted soil quality releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Also, the amount of land cleared to grow corn for ethanol and to provide more land for GMO crops to profit Monsanto has also increased carbon emissions. Drought, soil nutrient depletion, and not doing enough to sequester carbon in soil along with reforestation have all lead us to this point. And yet, Congress doesn't think this is important enough to be addressed in their climate bill. It is becoming more and more obvious that this bill is clearly designed as it stands now to benefit corporations by taking advantage of climate change rather than truly finding solutions to mitigate and adapt to the effects of it. Agriculture is really one of the biggest areas that needs to be addressed, including forests and the planting of trees to offset emissions and yet it is virtually being ignored. This does not bode well for the future of agriculture in America or the climate balance of the planet.
"The United States' National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released an assessment of climate change and it key effects for American agriculture.
Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator and undersecretary of commerce, said the report confirms that "human-induced climate change is a reality" and that "climate change clearly affects agriculture and is also affected by agriculture".
In a media call hosted by the Center for American Progress, Ms Lubchenco said under scenarios of higher heat-trapping gas emissions, projected climate changes are likely to increasingly challenge US capacity to as efficiently produce food, feed, fuel and livestock products.
Tom Kenworthy, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, added that the NOAA report shows what a warming world would mean for farmers.
"Some will do better, while many will not. American agriculture faces profound and painful challenges if nothing is done to curb global pollution," Mr Kenworthy said.
For instance, the US is already seeing more extreme weather events, and those trends will continue.
This includes increased heavy rainfalls in the Midwest and East and more severe drought conditions in the West and Southwest.
The report found that heavy rain downpours that led to flooding and agricultural damage have increased over the last 50 years.
The downpours have increased 27 per cent in the Midwest, 18pc in the Southeast and 13pc across the Great Plains states.
According to the report, the average temperature has risen 1.5 degrees F in 50 years, and some areas have seen larger increases.
The result has been more heavy rains in the Midwest and New England areas; also, more winter precipitation is falling as rain, which reduces snow pack. That will reduce water available for farming in the West.
In the report, the expected temperature rise ranges from a low of 2 degrees F if emissions are reduced relatively quickly to a high of 11.5 degrees F if nothing is done.
Tom Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center, noted that 11.5 degrees F could be optimistic, explaining that "recent emissions seen are higher than the highest scenario".
For grain crops, which are a huge part of the U.S. farm economy, faster growth that comes with warmer temperatures means less time for the seeds to grow and mature, Kenworthy noted. "Even moderate increases in temperature will decrease yields of corn, wheat, sorghum, bean, rice, cotton and peanut crops," the report predicts.
"Further, as temperatures continue to rise and drought periods increase, crops will be more frequently exposed to temperature thresholds at which pollination and grain-set processes begin to fail and quality of vegetable crops decreasesAnd without a doubt the main culprit is industrial agriculture. The proliferation of... more
A recent survey conducted by Navdanya reveals shocking statistics of dramatic decreases in microorganisms and beneficial soil enzymes in the soil of Bt Cotton fields. The study comes amid controversial government attempts to commercially introduce Bt Brinjal into India, despite consistent opposition and growing evidence of the negative impact genetically modified organisms have on society, human health and the environment. Numerous studies have linked farmer suicides in India to Bt Cotton due to increased costs of agricultural inputs and falling market prices, resulting in insurmountable debts and desperation. Various other studies have found high rates of infertility in rats that are fed GMO products, animal deaths after grazing on GMO fields and butterfly deaths after feeding on Bt corn pollen. This study now provides damning evidence of the environmental degradation caused by Bt crops, as the crop literally kills organisms in the soil that make available the nutrients plants need to grow, a frightening trend that can lead to large scale desertification . Irregardless of these warning signs and significant opposition, European governments as well are trying to push through a GMO corn variety, Mon810. We demand that an international moratorium be placed in commercialization of GMO crops until there has been more studies conducted to confirm its safety to human health as well as the environment.
Navdanya's study was conducted in Bt cotton growing areas of Vidharbha, comparing the microbial biomass in the soil of Bt cotton fields with that of fields that grew other crops or other types of cotton. The survey found statistically significant drops in 2 microbes and 3 beneficial enzymes. These results are significant as it provides scientific evidence that Bt Cotton is making the soil infertile by decreasing microbial activity, and thus essentially killing the very soil that the crop is grown in. Additionally this proves that industrial agriculture creates a relentless cycle of despair as industrial agricultural products deteriorate soil fertility that then necessitates intensified fertilizer and agricultural application, which ultimately results in increased farmer's costs and soaring debts. It is interesting to note that the study was conducted in a region which has shown an alarmingly high rate of farmer suicides, a shocking 20,000 in the past 5 years. Finally, the fact that Bt cotton crops decreases microbial activity in the soil portends a future of sterile soil that may result in massive desertification and loss of arable land in the future in a time where food security is evermore essential.
The microbes with most significant drops are as follows Actinomycetes(17% decrease), Bacteria(14.2%), Dehydrogenase(10.3%) Acid Phosphatase(26.6%) and Nitrogenase(22.6%).
Actinomycetes play an important role in decomposition of organic materials, and thus provide a vital part in organic matter turnover and carbon cycles that replenish the supply of nutrients in the soil and is an important part of humus formation.
Bacteria are vital in recycling nutrients, contributing to many important steps in nutrient cycles, such as the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere and putrefaction.
Dehydrogenase enzymes play a significant role in the biological oxidation of soil and increase beneficial microbial activity.
Acid phosphatase enzymes are used by soil microorganisms to access organically bound phosphate nutrients, which make phosphates available to plants.
Nitrogenase is the enzyme used by some organisms to fix atmospheric nitrogenous gas. It is the only known family of enzymes which accomplishes this process.
We demand the the government heeds to these results, as well as the numerous other studies that reveal the dangers of GMO products, and rethink its policy of allowing Bt cotton, as well as the plan to introduce Bt Brinjal into India.A recent survey conducted by Navdanya reveals shocking statistics of dramatic... more
Biosafety refers to ensuring that GMO’s do not harm the environment or health.
The soil, its fertility, and the organisms which maintain the fertility of soil are a vital aspect of the environment, especially in the context of food and agricultural production.
A recent scientific study carried out by Navdanya, compared the soil of fields where Bt-cotton had been planted for 3 years with adjoining fields with non GMO cotton or other crops. The region covered included Nagpur, Amravati and Wardha of Vidharbha which accounts for highest GMO cotton planting in India, and the highest rate of farmers suicides (4000 per year).
In 3 years, Bt-cotton has reduced the population of Actinomycetes by 17%. Actinomycetes are vital for breaking down cellulose and creating humus.
Bacteria were reduced by 14%. The total microbial biomass was reduced by 8.9%.
Vital soil beneficial enzymes which make nutrients available to plants have also been drastically reduced. Acid Phosphatase which contributes to uptake of phosphates was reduced by 26.6%. Nitrogenase enzymes which help fix nitrogen were reduced by 22.6%.
At this rate, in a decade of planting with GM cotton, or any GM crop with Bt genes in it, could lead to total destruction of soil organisms, leaving dead soil unable to produce food.
The ISAAA in its recent release has stated that there are 7.6 mha of Bt-cotton in India. This means 7.6 mha of dying soils.
The impact of GMO’s on soil organisms is not commonly studied. This is a vital lacunae because Bt toxin crops such as Mon 810 corn or Bt-cotton or Bt Brinjal have serious impact on beneficial soil organisms.
The government of India is trying to grant approval to Bt Brinjal without Bio safety studies on impact on Soil organisms. The European Commissión is trying to put pressure on GMO free countries to introduce Mon 810.
The Navdanya study the first that has looked at the long term impact of Bt cotton on soil organisms is a wake up to regulators worldwide. It also shows that the claims of the Biotechnology industry about the safety of GM crops are false.
To get a copy of the report and for further information, please contact –
A-60, Hauz Khas
New Delhi – 110 016
Phone : 91-11-26535422 / 26532124
Email : vandana AT vandanashiva DOT com
Website : http://www.navdanya.org/Biosafety refers to ensuring that GMO’s do not harm the environment or health.... more
Science has provided the souped-up seeds to feed the world, through biotechnology and old-fashioned crossbreeding. Now the problem is the dirt they're planted in.
As seeds get better, much of the world's soil is getting worse and people are going hungry. Scientists say if they can get the world out of the economically triggered global food crisis, better dirt will be at the root of the solution.
Soils around the world are deteriorating with about one-fifth of the world's cropland considered degraded in some manner. The poor quality has cut production by about one-sixth, according to a World Resources Institute study. Some scientists consider it a slow-motion disaster.
In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 1 million square miles of cropland have shown a "consistent significant decline," according to a March 2008 report by a worldwide consortium of agricultural institutions.
The cause of the current global food crisis is mostly based on market forces, speculation and hoarding, experts say. But beyond the economics lie droughts and floods, plant diseases and pests, and all too often, poor soil.
A generation ago, through better types of plants, Earth's food production exploded in what was then called the "green revolution." Some people thought the problem of feeding the world was solved and moved on. However, developing these new "magic seeds" was the easy part. The crucial element, fertile soil, was missing.
"The first thing to do is to have good soil," said Hans Herren, winner of the World Food Prize. "Even the best seeds can't do anything in sand and gravel."
Science has provided the souped-up seeds to feed the world, through biotechnology and... more