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"If we tried to feed the global population today on the average agricultural yields of the 1960s, we would need to farm over 85 percent of global land, instead of the 35 percent we use currently."

 

Professor Robert Henry

University of Queensland

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How natural is our food, and what does 'natural' mean anyway?

                                                                                     

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Sustainable food and farming policies must be rooted in science, says new policy group

                                                                                     

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“A few years ago, we also studied the trade-offs between high yields and external environmental effects, measured per unit of product. Contrary to our expectations, we found the external harms of high-yielding systems quite often turned out to be much lower than those of more extensive systems, such as organic farming. In terms of nitrogen and phosphate losses, from different dairy systems, for example, the difference was a factor of two. So if you want to reduce pollution, you should probably avoid organic milk.”

Professor Andrew Balmford

University of Cambridge

Read full article HERE

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must reads

China’s embrace of GM crops will have global implications

Shaleen Khanal & Zhang Hongzhou, Think China, 22 February 2024

China’s embrace of GM crops will have global implications, Society News - ThinkChina

 

How climate change may increase pest and disease threats

Farmers Weekly, February 2024

How climate change may increase pest and disease threats - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

 

Are farmers markets or supermarkets the low carbon food choice?

Mark Harris, Anthropocene, February 2024

Are farmers markets or supermarkets the low carbon choice? (anthropocenemagazine.org)

 

Agricultural chemical use and the rural-urban divide in Canada

Stuart J Smyth & Sylvain Charlebois, GM Crops & Food, February 2024

Full article: Agricultural chemical use and the rural-urban divide in Canada (tandfonline.com)

Our Obsession with Zero

David Zaruk, The Firebreak, February 2024

Our Obsession with Zero - THE FIREBREAK

The trait that could transform wheat farming

Tom Allen-Stevens, Views on Agriculture, February 2024

The trait that could transform wheat farming - Views on Agriculture

The scientific case for land sparing is compelling

Daniel Pearsall, Farmers Weekly, February 2024

Opinion: The scientific case for land sparing is compelling - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

 

How science is helping farmers to find a balance between agriculture and solar farms

Magali Reinert, Nature, February 2024

How science is helping farmers to find a balance between agriculture and solar farms (nature.com)

 

PRRS virus-resistant nucleus herd ready for breeding upon regulatory approval

Ann Hess, National Hog Farmer, February 2024

PRRS virus-resistant nucleus herd ready for breeding upon regulatory approval (nationalhogfarmer.com)

MEPs sow seeds of change for gene-edited plant patentability: Will it bear bad fruit for the biotechnology industry?

Venner Shipley, 15 February 2024

MEPs sow seeds of change for gene-edited plant patentability: Will it bear bad fruit for the biotechnology industry? - Venner Shipley

Five reasons why the anti-biotech movement is in retreat

Mark Lynas, Alliance for Science, February 2024

Five reasons why the anti-biotech movement is in retreat - Alliance for Science

 

Uruguay wants to use gene drives to eradicate devastating screwworms

Abdullahi Tsanni, MIT Technology Review, February 2024

Uruguay wants to use gene drives to eradicate devastating screwworms | MIT Technology Review

Norway Approves GMO Canola Oil in Aquaculture: A Leap Towards Sustainable Fish Farming

BNN, February 2024

Norway Approves GMO Canola Oil in Aquaculture: A Leap Towards Sustainable Fish Farming (bnnbreaking.com)

 

World first: disease resistant GM banana approved for consumption

Cosmos, February 2024

Queensland banana first GM fruit approved in Australia (cosmosmagazine.com)

 

Regenerative Agriculture – Buzzword? Bust? Or the Future of Agriculture?

Judson Christopherson, SAIFood, February 2024

Regenerative Agriculture - Buzzword? Bust? Or The Future Of Agriculture? - SAIFood

 

NGOs slam France’s plans to adopt EU method for measuring pesticides risk

Euractiv, February 2024

NGOs slam France’s plans to adopt EU method for measuring pesticides risk – Euractiv

The future of farming: Exploring the realities of regenerative agricultural practices

Potato News Today, February 2024

The future of farming: Exploring the realities of regenerative agricultural practices – Potato News Today

 

The EPA does not require warning labels for Roundup—yet Bayer lost $10 billion for not having them

Center for Truth in Science, February 2024

The EPA does not require warning labels for Roundup—yet Bayer lost $10 billion for not having them (truthinscience.org)

Soil Survivor: Using Nanotech for Regenerative Agriculture

Amanda Jasi, The Chemical Engineer, February 2024

Soil Survivor: Using Nanotech for Regenerative Agriculture - Features - The Chemical Engineer

Taking a more modified approach

Alan Emerson, Wairarapa Times-Age, February 2024

Taking a more modified approach - Wairarapa Times-Age

 

EU proposal to regulate gene-edited plants raises concerns for biotech and plant breeders alike

Potter Clarkson, February 2024

EU Proposal To Regulate Gene-Edited Plants Raises Concerns for Biotech & Plant Breeders Alike | Potter Clarkson

 

BVDV-Resistant Calf Created Through Gene Editing

Bovine Vet Online, February 2024

BVDV-Resistant Calf Created Through Gene Editing | Bovine Veterinarian (bovinevetonline.com)

The Buzz on ‘The Great Honey Bee Die-Off’

Michael Fumento, The American Spectator, February 2024

The Buzz on ‘The Great Honey Bee Die-Off’ - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics

We Can’t Do it Without Patents

Marcel Bruins, Seed World Europe, February 2024

We Can’t Do it Without Patents - Seed World Europe (european-seed.com)

A Global Farmer Perspective on the Opportunity Offered With New Plant Breeding Technology

Diana Lenzi, Global Farmer Network, February 2024

A Global Farmer Perspective on the Opportunity Offered With New Plant Breeding Technology – Global Farmer Network

How Indian Farmers Are Using AI To Increase Crop Yield

Janakiram MSV, Forbes, February 2025

How Indian Farmers Are Using AI To Increase Crop Yield (forbes.com)

The EU risks losing out on farming’s genomic reboot

Anjana Ahuja, Financial Times, January 2024

The EU risks losing out on farming’s genomic reboot (ft.com)

 

Plastic pollution: Could genetically engineered bacteria be the solution?

Henry Miller & Kathleen Hefferon, Washington Examiner, January 2024

Plastic pollution: Could genetically engineered bacteria be the solution? - Washington Examiner

Will the USDA Ever Allow GMOs on Organic Farms?

Luke Carneal, Ambrook Research, January 2024

Will the USDA Ever Allow GMOs on Organic Farms? | Ambrook Research

Breakthrough Boosts Plant Yields in Dry Conditions

Mirage News, January 2024

Breakthrough Boosts Plant Yields in Dry Conditions | Mirage News

Green shoots of hope for Italy’s first gene-edited crop field trial

Nature, January 2024

Green shoots of hope for Italy’s first gene-edited crop field trial (nature.com)

Plant scientists turn attention to African staples

Financial Times, January 2024

https://www.ft.com/content/5ce06c10-6fb3-440e-971e-5edfc6efe5ff

CRISPR-edited crops break new ground in Africa

Nature, January 2024

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-024-00176-8

TELA Maize paves way for Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in maize production

The Nation, January 2024

TELA Maize paves way for Nigeria's self-sufficiency in maize production - The Nation Newspaper (thenationonlineng.net)

 

‘Perceptions and emotions’: How consumers in the U.S. and Switzerland view New Genomic Techniques in agriculture

Potato News Today, January 2024

‘Perceptions and emotions’: How consumers in the U.S. and Switzerland view New Genomic Techniques in agriculture – Potato News Today

Agriculture in a changing climate: Africa needs biotechnology

Matthias Berninger, Table Media, January 2024

Agriculture in a changing climate: Africa needs biotechnology • Table.Media

Only scientifically-proven pest controls will reduce food losses

Business Daily Africa, January 2024

Only scientifically-proven pest controls will reduce food losses - Business Daily (businessdailyafrica.com)

Unlocking the power of gene editing

Dr Helen Ferrier, NFU Online, January 2024

Unlocking the power of gene editing – NFUonline

 

Cypriot scientist revolutionizes agriculture with soil-free crop growth

KNEWS, January 2024

Cypriot scientist revolutionizes agriculture with soil-free crop growth, KNEWS (kathimerini.com.cy)

The Case for Doubling Down on Agricultural R&D

Dan Blaustein-Rejto, The Breakthrough Institute, January 2024

The Case for Doubling Down on… | The Breakthrough Institute

Nigeria approves commercial release of GM maize varieties

Alex Abutu, Alliance for Science, January 2024

 Nigeria approves commercial release of GM maize varieties - Alliance for Science

A good journal breaks bad: AAP spreads misinformation about glyphosate

Nicole Keller, Science-Based Medicine, January 2024

A good journal breaks bad: AAP spreads misinformation about glyphosate | Science-Based Medicine (sciencebasedmedicine.org)

GMOs have generated $30 billion extra for Brazilians in the last 25 years

AgroPages, January 2024

AgroPages-GMOs have generated $30 billion extra for Brazilians in the last 25 years-Agricultural news

Germany’s farmers are fighting back against green tyranny

Sabine Beppler-Spahl, Spiked, January 2024

Germany’s farmers are fighting back against green tyranny - spiked (spiked-online.com)

 

Risk-appropriate regulations for gene-editing technologies

Graham Brookes & Stuart Smyth, GM Crops & Food, January 2024

Full article: Risk-appropriate regulations for gene-editing technologies (tandfonline.com)

 

Genome-edited rice resistant to virus wreaking havok in Africa

Imma Perfetto, Cosmos, January 2024

Genome-edited rice variety resistant to destructive virus (cosmosmagazine.com)

New Report Urging Parents to Buy Organic Could Hurt Americans’ Health: Experts

The Messenger, January 2024

New Report Urging Parents to Buy Organic Could Hurt Americans' Health: Experts - The Messenger

Scientists’ ‘super banana’ could save thousands of lives, reduce blindness – but it still has major opposition to overcome

The Cool Down, January 2024

Scientists' 'super banana' could save thousands of lives, reduce blindness — but it still has major opposition to overcome (thecooldown.com)

On solid ground: AgTech is driving sustainable farming and is expected to harvest US$18 billion in 2024

Deloitte Insights, January 2024

Agriculture technology | Deloitte Insights

Understanding China’s Food Priorities for 2024

Genevieve Donnellon-May, The Diplomat, January 2024

Understanding China’s Food Priorities for 2024 – The Diplomat

GM crops set a new global acreage record in 2023

ChileBio News, January 2024

GM crops set a new global acreage record in 2023 - ChileBIO

 

Rwanda Supports Technology as a Tool for Food Security

Pacifique Nshimiyimana, Global Farmer Network, January 2024

Rwanda Supports Technology as a Tool for Food Security – Global Farmer Network

Eliminating Hidden Hunger: How biofortification can improve nutrition at home and abroad

John Innes Centre, January 2024

Eliminating Hidden Hunger: How biofortification can improve nutrition at home and abroad | John Innes Centre (jic.ac.uk)

Are GMOs Safe? The Benefits of Science-Enhanced Foods

Jamie Ducharme, Time, January 2024

Are GMOs Safe? The Benefits of Science-Enhanced Foods | TIME

CRISPR launch hopes to future-proof agrifood production

Food Navigator, January 2024

CRISPR to be used to genetically modify crops (foodnavigator.com)

 

Discovery raises hopes of more temperature tolerant wheat

Phys.org, January 2024

Discovery raises hopes of more temperature tolerant wheat (phys.org)

Breeding Long Term Commitment: Vegetable Companies

Eloy Corona, Seed World, January 2024

Breeding Long Term Commitment: Vegetable Companies - Seed World US

‘Modern genetic techniques offer many prospects for agroecology’: Q&A with Urs Niggli

RePlanet, December 2024

‘Modern genetic techniques offer many prospects for agroecology’: Q&A with Urs Niggli (weplanet.org)

Why Food Security is a Top Priority for China

The Diplomat, December 2023

Why Food Security is a Top Priority for China – The Diplomat

 

Drought-tolerant transgenic wheat HB4®: a hope for the future

Pushpendra K. Gupta, Trends in Biotechnology, December 2023

Drought-tolerant transgenic wheat HB4®: a hope for the future - ScienceDirect

Science Wins Over Politics with Decision to Extend Glyphosate Use in Europe

Frank Lessiter, No-Till Farmer, December 2023

Science Wins Over Politics with Decision to Extend Glyphosate Use in Europe (no-tillfarmer.com)

EU Commission is jeopardising future of organic farming

Opinion, EU Observer, December 2023

EU Commission is jeopardising future of organic farming (euobserver.com)

 

Polls reveal new pragmatism around ag biotech

American Feed Industry Association, December 2023

Polls Reveal New Pragmatism Around Ag Biotech - AFIA

Agricultural Game-Changer on the Horizon for Canola

Seed World, December 2023

Agricultural Game-Changer on the Horizon for Canola - Seed World US

Rethinking Sustainable Beef

The Breakthrough Institute, December 2023

Rethinking Sustainable Beef | The Breakthrough Institute

 

GMOs a solution, not a problem, says British Nobel laureate

The Nation, December 2023

GMOs a solution, not a problem, says British Nobel laureate (nationthailand.com)

How can we navigate the global food crisis with emerging technology?

Silicon Republic, December 2023

How can we navigate the global food crisis with emerging technology? (siliconrepublic.com)

How New Zealand is reducing methane emissions from farming

BBC Future, December 2023

How New Zealand is reducing methane emissions from farming - BBC Future

China corn breeders ready for doubling of GMO planting in 2024 -sources

Channel News Asia, December 2023

China corn breeders ready for doubling of GMO planting in 2024 -sources - CNA (channelnewsasia.com)

How some pesticide policies can harm food security

Amrith Gunasekara, AgAlert, December 2023

Ag Alert

Waiting for Godot: Europe’s Quest to OK Gene Editing

Alan Schulman, CEPA, December 2023

Waiting for Godot: Europe’s Quest to OK Gene Editing - CEPA

 

How to Improve Livestock Health, and Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Breakthrough Institute, December 2023

How to Improve Livestock Health, and Cut… | The Breakthrough Institute

Gene editing faces opposition from Europe's green lobby

Richard Wright, The Scottish Farmer, December 2023

Gene editing faces opposition from Europe's green lobby | The Scottish Farmer

Recognising the Importance of Glyphosate as a Tool Supporting Soil Health in the EU

Knud Bay-Smidt, Global Farmer Network, December 2023

Recognizing the Importance of Glyphosate as a Tool Supporting Soil Health in the EU – Global Farmer Network

An ESG Opportunity?

David Zaruk, Seed World, December 2023

An ESG Opportunity? - Seed World Europe (european-seed.com)

 

Climate change means we need to get over fears about gene-editing plants

Bill Anderson, Fast Company, December 2023

Climate change means we need to get over fears about gene-editing plan (fastcompany.com)

 

GMOs a world food solution, not a problem

Farmers Weekly (NZ), 5 December 2023

GMOs a world food solution, not a problem (farmersweekly.co.nz)

Growing more with less

Robert Horn, International Monetary Fund, December 2023

Growing More with Less by Robert Horn (imf.org)

COP28: 7 food and agriculture innovations needed to protect the climate and feed a rapidly growing world

Paul Winters, The Conversation, December 2023

COP28: 7 food and agriculture innovations needed to protect the climate and feed a rapidly growing world (theconversation.com)

Vertically farmed greens taste as good as organic ones

Science Daily, December 2023

Vertically farmed greens taste as good as organic ones | ScienceDaily

 

Sustainability in Canada and Europe: An Assessment after 25 Years of GM Crop Production

Stuart J. Smith, American Chemical Society, December 2023

Sustainability in Canada and Europe: An Assessment after 25 Years of GM Crop Production | ACS Agricultural Science & Technology

 

Are healthy foods automatically sustainable, too?

Science Daily, December 2023

Are healthy foods automatically sustainable, too? | ScienceDaily

Commentary: How ‘startling’ findings outpace thorough science in policymaking

Richard Williams & Nathan Schachtman, Jacksonville Journal Courier, December 2023

‘Startling’ outpaces science — Richard Williams, Nathan Schachtman (myjournalcourier.com)

 

How the Green New Deal Met Its Demise In Europe

Bill Wirtz, Real Clear Markets, November 2023

How the Green New Deal Met Its Demise In Europe | RealClearMarkets

Europe tried it green and failed

Bill Wirtz, Washington Examiner, November 2023

Europe tried it green and failed | Washington Examiner

Will higher food prices shift demand for niche market products?

Stuart Smyth, SAI Food, November 2023

Will Higher Food Prices Shift Consumer Demands For Niche Market Products? - SAIFood

Big Steps Towards Plant Breeding’s Holy Grail: Apomixis

Seed World, November 2023

Big Steps Towards Plant Breeding’s Holy Grail: Apomixis - Seed World US

Time to invest in the next agricultural revolution

Dr Matthew Partridge, Newsweek, November 2023

The next agricultural revolution is here. Time to invest. | MoneyWeek

Mexican GMO Trade Dispute Relying On Faulty Claims, Retracted Research

Rob Wager, Issues & Insights, November 2023

Mexican GMO Trade Dispute Relying On Faulty Claims, Retracted Research – Issues & Insights (issuesinsights.com)

Genomic crop research goes wild

Stuart Smyth, Western Producer, November 2023

Genomic crop research goes wild | The Western Producer

 

The Solution to Ag’s Biggest Problems? Start with a Seed

Andy Lavigne, Seed World, November 2023

The Solution to Ag’s Biggest Problems? Start with a Seed - Seed World US

Scientists show how to turn lunar soil fertile for agriculture

Will Dunham, Reuters, November 2023

Scientists show how to turn lunar soil fertile for agriculture | Reuters

 

Researchers develop oil-rich rice strain

China Daily, November 2023

Researchers develop oil-rich rice strain - Chinadaily.com.cn

Gene editing: How it works and what it could do for the dairy industry

Tad Sonstegard, Ag Proud, November 2023

Gene editing: How it works and what it could do for the dairy industry | Ag Proud

How herbicide-tolerant varieties can make rice farming less water-intensive
The Federal, November 2023

How herbicide-tolerant varieties can make rice farming less water-intensive (thefederal.com)

Striking the balance: Catalyzing a sustainable land-use transition

McKinsey, November 2023

Striking the balance: catalyzing a sustainable land use transition | McKinsey

Global Agriculture Needs An Evergreen Revolution

Shely Aronov, Forbes, November 2023

Global Agriculture Needs An Evergreen Revolution (forbes.com)

Speaking Up in Support of the Tools That Support Sustainable Agriculture

Gabriel Carballal, Global Farmer Network, November 2023

Speaking Up in Support of the Tools That Support Sustainable Agriculture – Global Farmer Network

Cover crops help the climate and environment but most farmers say no. Many fear losing money

ABC News, November 2023

Cover crops help the climate and environment but most farmers say no. Many fear losing money - ABC News (go.com)

Canola yields reach new heights

The Western Producer, November 2023

Canola yields reach new heights | The Western Producer

Unilever unearths regen ag findings for Knorr and Hellmann’s: ‘The time for pilots is over. It’s time to go big’

Flora Southey, Food Navigator, November 2023

Unilever unearths regenerative agriculture findings for Knorr, Hellmann’s ingredients (foodnavigator.com)

Have UK’s Agri-Tech Centres achieved and what’s next?

Philip Clarke, Farmers Weekly, November 2023

Have UK's Agri-Tech Centres achieved and what's next? - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

Why can’t we just quit cows?

Naoki Nitta, Grist, November 2023

Why can't we just quit cows? | Grist

Farmers, seed producers welcome science-based reform to EU gene editing rules

Mark Lynas, Alliance for Science, October 2023

Farmers, seed producers welcome science-based reform to EU gene editing rules - Alliance for Science

Has the fight back by agriculture now been triggered?

Richard Wright, The Scottish Farmer, October 2023

Has the fight back by agriculture now been triggered? | The Scottish Farmer

 

Surge in cotton production good news for Pakistan's textile industry

The Nation, October 2023

Surge in cotton production good news for Pakistan's textile industry (nation.com.pk)

Why restrictive agroecology can’t be a solution to food insecurity in Africa

Otieno Panya, Business Daily, October 2023

Why restrictive agroecology can’t be a solution to food insecurity in Africa - Business Daily (businessdailyafrica.com)

Resurrection of Plant Breeding Innovation in the EU?

Petra Jorasch, Seed World Europe, October 2023

Resurrection of Plant Breeding Innovation in the EU? - Seed World Europe (european-seed.com)

CRISPR chickens hint at what’s next for the gene-modified food chain

Fast Company, October 2023

CRISPR chickens hint at what's next for the gene-edited food chain (fastcompany.com)

Seeds of Uncertainty: Our Industry Needs to Prepare for What’s Coming

Marc Zienkiewicz, Seed World, October 2023

Seeds of Uncertainty: Our Industry Needs to Prepare for What’s Coming - Seed World US

 

‘Win for science’ as French court dismisses defamation lawsuit by anti-GMO scientist Seralini

Alliance for Science, 19 October 2023

'Win for science' as French court dismisses defamation lawsuit by anti-GMO scientist Seralini % Alliance for Science

Gene editing in pigs – making the case for a potentially revolutionary technology

Alistair Driver, Pig World, October 2023

Gene editing in pigs – making the case for a potentially revolutionary technology - Pig World (pig-world.co.uk)

 

China Approves GM Corn and Soybean Seed Varieties in Crop Boost

Bloomberg, 18 October 2023

China Approves GM Corn and Soybean Seed Varieties in Crop Boost (yahoo.com)

Could superpowered plants be the heroes of the climate crisis?

Zoe Corbyn, The Observer, October 2023

Could superpowered plants be the heroes of the climate crisis? | Climate crisis | The Guardian

Science wins as Kenyan court dismisses landmark case against GMOs

Godfrey Ombogo, Alliance for Science, October 2023

Science wins as Kenyan court dismisses landmark case against GMOs - Alliance for Science

Glyphosate safer than hot water for bees, says Amenity Forum

Horticulture Week, October 2023

Glyphosate safer than hot water for bees, says Amenity Forum | HortWeek

Enteric emissions: Should cattle be excused for their belches?

Judson Christopherson, SAI Food, October 2023

Enteric Emissions: Should Cattle Be Excused For Their Belches? - SAIFood

We don’t need to choose between global starvation and climate chaos

Jemima Lewis, The Telegraph, October 2023

We don’t need to choose between global starvation and climate chaos (telegraph.co.uk)

Full short-term ban on glyphosate could be counterproductive

Wageningen University & Research, October 2023

Full short-term ban on glyphosate could be counterproductive - WUR

There Is Nothing 'Natural' About Organic Farming And If You Care About 'Sustainable', You Need Science

Hank Campbell, Science 2.0, October 2023

There Is Nothing 'Natural' About Organic Farming And If You Care About 'Sustainable', You Need Science | Science 2.0 (science20.com)

Time for a national conversation about GE?

Wayne Langford, Farmers Weekly (NZ), October 2023

Time for a national conversation about GE? (farmersweekly.co.nz)

The Global State of New Gene Editing Techniques Used for Food-Producing Animals

Food Safety News, October 2023

The Global State of New Gene Editing Techniques Used for Food-Producing Animals | Food Safety (food-safety.com)

 

Do GMOs fit into a regenerative agriculture system?

Amanda Zalukyj, AgDaily, October 2023

Do GMOs fit into a regenerative agriculture system? | AGDAILY

The Cruel Fantasies of Well-Fed People

George Monbiot, October 2023

The Cruel Fantasies of Well-Fed People – George Monbiot

The Inhibition of Innovation

David J. Bertioli & Henry I. Miller, Cato Institute, October 2023

The Inhibition of Innovation | Cato Institute

Tropic brings novel gene editing approach to corn and soybeans via Corteva partnership

AgFunder News, 3 October 2023

Tropic, Corteva bring gene editing to corn and soybeans (agfundernews.com)

Canada must reject ideological EU farm practices

National Newswatch, October 2023

Canada must reject ideological EU farm practices | National Newswatch

Is organic better? Not if you follow the evidence, researcher says

Harvard Gazette, September 2023

Is organic better? – Harvard Gazette

There's no evidence eating organic is better for you, study finds

Body & Soul, September 2023

Are organic fruit and vegetables better for you? Study finds there’s no evidence | body+soul (bodyandsoul.com.au)

GMOs are part of the solution, not the problem

Jacob Unruh, The Sunflower, September 2023

OPINION: GMOs are part of the solution, not the problem – The Sunflower

If the Future Could Whisper, What Would It Say? CRISPR!

Ooma Dima, Seed World, September 2023

If the Future Could Whisper, What Would It Say? CRISPR! - Seed World

 

Could CRISPR save us from a future of food scarcity?

Jessica Byrne, thred, September 2023

Could CRISPR save us from a future of food scarcity? - Thred Website  

Technology, Not Climate, Will Determine the Future of our Food System

The Breakthrough Institute, September 2023

Technology, Not Climate, Will Determine… | The Breakthrough Institute

 

Farmers in Ireland ‘losing competitiveness’ because of GM crops ban

Newstalk, 28 September 2023

Irish farmers 'losing competitiveness' because of GM crops ban | Newstalk

I'm a Harvard researcher - this is why buying 'organic' food is a total con

Daily Mail, September 2023

I'm a Harvard researcher - this is why buying 'organic' food is a total con | Daily Mail Online

 

The Future is CRISPR

Modern Farmer, September 2023

The Future is CRISPR - Modern Farmer

Canola’s opportunities abound as breeding, uses advance: IRC

Grain Central, 26 September 2023

Canola's opportunities abound as breeding, uses advance: IRC - Grain Central

 

VIDEO: How farmers can cut emissions

Attracta Mooney, Financial Times, September 2023

How farmers can cut emissions | FT Climate Capital | Financial Times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Science for Sustainable Agriculture news

Focus on genetics and IP needed to boost Britain's horticulture sector

Peter Button

 

A recent one-off House of Lords inquiry into the challenges facing the horticulture industry, and the ensuing report entitled ‘Sowing the Seeds: A blooming English horticultural sector’, was a missed opportunity to put the essential genetic research, plant breeding and seed sectors which support the industry on a more secure footing, writes former UPOV Vice Secretary-General Peter Button.

Read more...

Crop biotechnology opponents are losing their war against genetic engineering, but the battle for science is not yet won

Steven E. Cerier

After years of reaping the tainted rewards of disinformation, the ground is shifting against anti-biotech activists. The world’s eight most populous countries now either grow GM crops and or have approved the deregulation of gene-edited crops. That’s more than 50 percent of the global population. But for a number of countries, GMOs still remain in regulatory limbo as a residue of the Frankenfood branding by anti-biotech campaigners. In an ideal, science-driven world, with overwhelming evidence that both transgenic and gene-edited crops pose no identifiable unique health or environmental threats, the two complementary breeding techniques would face minimal regulatory hurdles. We will eventually look back upon this period of hyped worries and predictions of impending environmental catastrophe and be mystified at what all the fuss was about, writes Steven Cerier.

Read more...

Harnessing the power of farm-level data

George Freeman MP

Former UK science minister George Freeman MP explains his longstanding passion, first inspired by the US Field to Market programme, for using farm-level data to drive improvements in sustainable, efficient food production, and to inform consumers about the environmental impact of their food choices. He reflects on his disappointment that the pivotal role envisaged for agrimetrics in the UK Agri-Tech Strategy has not yet transpired in practice, but highlights two recent developments which give cause for optimism that Britain may get back on track to mirror the US in harnessing the enormous potential of agricultural data and sustainability metrics.

Read more...

Europe’s farmers are fighting for the ability to continue to farm

David Zaruk

 

While there is no single issue behind the angry farmer protests taking place across Europe, at its heart is a frustration felt among farmers that society, governments and special interests have denigrated them and their profession. Activists blame them for climate change, environmental pollution and unsustainability, when farmers see themselves as the stewards of the land. Green restrictions like the EU Farm2Fork strategy will make farming unprofitable and perhaps no longer even possible, designed by cosmopolitan zealots with no idea what is required to bring a harvest in. Farmers are fighting for the ability to continue to farm. Among other actions to stop alienating farmers, Government regulators need to speak up for the science and data when activist groups spread lies about the safety of conventional agriculture tools, rather than quietly letting the fearmongers undermine public trust in our farmers, writes EU risk and science communications specialist David Zaruk.

Read more...

Is hi-tech, intensive livestock production more sustainable, more biosecure?

The Earl of Caithness

 

Faced with a ‘potential explosion’ of livestock disease in Britain, the Earl of Caithness highlights the enormous potential to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in farmed animals through genetic advances in which UK research is world-leading. He urges UK Ministers to speed up plans to allow the commercial use of precision breeding techniques in livestock so that these advances can be deployed as soon as possible to prevent animal suffering and to improve biosecurity. Noting that infectious diseases do not differentiate between animals reared intensively or extensively, he also refutes claims from environmental NGOs and animal welfare campaigners that more intensive forms of livestock production increase the risk of zoonotic diseases. In fact, the scientific evidence points in the opposite direction – intensive livestock farming may actually be more sustainable, and more biosecure.

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Gene editing: Is it time for full disclosure of all plant breeding methods?

Nigel Moore

Plant breeder Nigel Moore notes that the public debate around gene editing has highlighted a worrying lack of awareness among consumers that none of our familiar food crops are ‘in their natural form’, and that all have been adapted and improved for society’s benefit by science-based plant breeding. Frustrated that the enormous contribution of genetic innovation in improving the quality, availability and affordability of our food supply is routinely overlooked or airbrushed out by the time products reach the supermarket shelves, he emphasises the breeding industry’s commitment to transparency, and asks if it is time for full disclosure of all plant breeding methods?  Only by contextualising the way we currently improve our food crops, and by improving consumers’ access to information, can we hope to avoid a situation in which precision breeding is singled out as ‘different’ in an apparent vacuum of knowledge about other conventional breeding methods, he argues.  

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Throttle back on production to spite the supermarkets? Has UK farming finally lost the plot?

Paul Temple

Reflecting on discussions at this year’s Oxford Farming Conference, and with some SFI payment options reportedly offering a better return to landowners than farmers producing food, the idea that we should throttle back on production to tackle perceived imbalances in the value chain might turn out to be a catastrophic own-goal for our industry. A more secure and sustainable future for Britain’s farmers does not lie in dialling back production, battling against our customers, or relying on future taxpayer handouts for producing food less efficiently. We urgently need farm policies which benchmark, measure and reward improvements in sustainable, efficient food production, which respond to the COP28 agenda by setting more ambitious targets for domestic output and clear goals for reducing the environmental footprint of our food system, and which encourage the use of new agricultural technology and innovation to do so, argues mixed farmer Paul Temple.

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Radical rethink needed into how we regulate and incentivise the delivery of agricultural innovation in the UK

Professor Tina Barsby OBE

Expressed per head of population, or in relation to GDP, the United Kingdom leads the world in terms of high-citation academic publications in agriculture, according to a recent study. High-citation papers are defined as those most likely to support innovation and deliver impact. So why does UK leadership in academic science not translate into leadership in agricultural productivity growth, in which the UK continues to lag behind most other developed agricultural economies? And why has it not positioned the UK as a major destination for private sector investment in agricultural innovation – compared, for example, to Britain’s healthcare or medical life science sectors? Plant scientist Professor Tina Barsby offers some thoughts.

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Land use: OF&G claims for organic farming benefits don’t stack up

Daniel Pearsall & Dr Julian Little

Questioning claims in a recent policy paper that trebling the area of organic farmland in England will deliver benefits for the climate and biodiversity, Daniel Pearsall and Dr Julian Little point to the increasing weight of scientific evidence that optimising food production on as small a land area as possible is the most sustainable way to feed a growing population while leaving space for nature and carbon sequestration. Any increase in organic farming will inevitably reduce yields, requiring more land elsewhere to make up for the loss in production. Peer-reviewed research indicates that this would be at a cost to biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions much greater than the on-farm benefit of organic practice. Consistent, science-based metrics of agricultural sustainability are urgently needed, taking account of a broad range of resource use and environmental indicators, related to the quantity for food produced. Only then will we truly understand the comparative sustainability impact of our food choices. For some it may make for uncomfortable reading, they argue.         

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IP in agriculture benefits everyone

Peter Button

Case studies from around the world show that introducing effective systems of IP protection in agriculture supports investment, innovation and economic growth in both developed and developing countries. It also promotes greater choice and diversity of crop varieties, and incentivises efforts to protect and conserve natural biodiversity. Far from demonising the role of intellectual property in farming, we should be celebrating and championing its contribution to a more productive, resilient and sustainable global food system, argues Peter Button, former UPOV Vice-Secretary General.

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Precision breeding: Food Standards Agency’s plans must not put England behind the EU

Karen Holt & Daniel Pearsall

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) deserves credit for the science-based progression in its thinking around the regulation of food and feed produced using precision breeding techniques such as gene editing. A recent public consultation issued by the FSA also gives cause for optimism that the Agency is thinking strategically about reform of restrictive GMO rules inherited from the EU. But with Europe fast catching up with England’s plans to deregulate gene editing techniques, could it be a case of two steps forward, one step back, ask Karen Holt and Daniel Pearsall. 

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Can agriculture save the planet? Insights from COP28 and beyond

Jack Bobo

The discussions at COP28 highlight the critical role of agricultural innovations in achieving food security and climate goals sustainably. The acceptance and adoption of these innovations by society are paramount. If the public does not support the introduction of such technologies, even the most groundbreaking scientific solutions will remain underutilised. Science tells us what we can do, but, ultimately, it is the public that tells us what we should do. Therefore, engaging consumers in discussions about food production is essential, writes Jack Bobo, Director of the University of Nottingham Food Systems Institute.

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Defra must publish a full impact assessment of farm policies on  domestic food production

Julian Sturdy MP

Highlighting concerns that a UK policy emphasis on lower-yield farming practices and land use change will inevitably take its toll on domestic food production, Julian Sturdy MP calls on Defra to publish a full impact assessment of its Environmental Land Management (ELM) and Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) policies on farm-level yields, national agricultural productivity growth, and domestic food self-sufficiency. It is not too late to adopt a data-led approach to measure and monitor the impact of our farm policies, he argues. The Agriculture Act includes specific provisions to equip farmers with the technology to generate, collect and share data, and to support productivity improvements. Together, these policy tools could and should be used not only to track the impact of government policies, but also to inform and drive sustainable gains in agricultural productivity, and to benchmark and reward farmers for genuine progress in reducing their environmental footprint per unit of food produced. It is vital that we adopt a clear-sighted, evidence-based approach to the development and implementation of future farm policies. Otherwise, we may risk sleepwalking into a food crisis, he warns.  

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Which farming system better preserves insect populations: organic or conventional?

Jon Entine

Science journalist Jon Entine challenges the simplistic narrative that modern intensive agriculture is steering us toward catastrophic declines in global insect populations, highlighting to a 2020 meta-study of 166 long-term surveys which points to a levelling off of insect declines in recent decades, and an increase in some species. Global population growth and rising affluence over coming decades will require a sharp increase in necessary food calories, which can only occur by expanding farmable acreage - or by increasing yields on existing farmland. Using technology to boost yields on currently farmed acres - growing more food on less land—is the most important action we can take to protect habitat and biodiversity, he suggests, warning that a turn away from efficient, intensive agriculture to accommodate the ideological fashion of our times could be a disaster for the fragile insect population.

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Regenerative agriculture - hype or hope?

Professor Mario Caccamo

As interest in regenerative agriculture reaches fever pitch across the value chain, NIAB is preparing the ground for a major research effort to deliver the science needed for a commercial scale-up of regen-ag, combining research leadership in soil science, variety testing, rotational agronomy, precision agronomy, cover cropping, data science and water use efficiency. A progressive, science-based approach, embracing innovation and harnessing the power of large-scale data, offers the potential for high-yielding, profitable crop production to go hand in hand with reducing agriculture’s environmental and climate impacts, writes Professor Mario Caccamo.       

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Pro-science think-tank calls for UK Agri-Tech Strategy re-set

 

Following the recent announcement that three of the four Agri-Tech Centres established under the 2013 UK Agri-Tech Strategy could be merged into a single Catapult, and amid reports that the fourth centre, Agrimetrics, faces an uncertain future without continued Government support, pro-science think-tank Science for Sustainable Agriculture (SSA) is calling for an evidence-led re-set of the Strategy, with a renewed focus on genetic innovation and data.

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Britain's organic farmers must not be locked out of the gene editing revolution

David Hill

 

Momentum is building to permit gene edited crops in organic agriculture within the European Union. Meanwhile, Britain’s organic farmers risk being left behind by the campaigning stance of UK organic sector bodies, whose dogmatic rejection of these more precise breeding technologies may not reflect the views of members on the ground, warns Norfolk arable farmer and registered organic processor, David Hill.

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Time for a fresh look at the UK rulebook on using the GM method for crop improvement

Professor Jonathan Jones FRS

 

After almost 30 years’ safe and effective use of GM crops around the world, the technology has delivered major benefits for agriculture and the environment in terms of increased yields, lower pesticide use and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. But national bans and overly-restrictive rules on GM crop cultivation have limited the global gains to just one-third of the technology’s potential. At a time of mounting concern over the food, energy and climate pressures facing the planet, The Royal Society is calling for a more proportionate and evidence-led approach to regulating GM crops in the UK, explains plant scientist Professor Jonathan Jones.

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NEWS: Benefits for food security, animal welfare and the environment: New study shows balanced breeding programmes in pigs can increase litter size while also increasing birth weights and improving piglet survival rates
 

A new peer-reviewed study has underlined the contribution of balanced farm animal breeding programmes in delivering combined benefits in terms of food production, animal welfare and environmental impact.


Published in the journal Frontiers in Animal Science, the study examines long-term trends in commercial pig breeding since the early 2000s, focusing on data relating to litter size, piglet birth weight and piglet survival rates according to different genetic types (breeding lines).

  

Improvements have been most marked over the past decade, with the data showing that from 2012 until 2022, average litter size increased by 3.5 pigs, birth weight increased by 30g per pig, while piglet survival rates improved by 8%.

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Label organic products, not gene edited, on food safety grounds

Daniel Pearsall & Matt Ridley

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has followed the science in recommending a streamlined approach to regulating gene edited food and feed products, mirroring the rules already adopted in countries such as Canada, Argentina and Japan, and in line with the approach proposed for the EU. Howls of protest from the organic lobby demanding mandatory labelling of gene edited products must be met with the same level-headed, evidence-based response. Rather than statutory labelling of gene edited products, for which there is no scientific basis in food safety terms, the FSA might more reasonably turn its attention to requiring statutory labelling of organic products – in the same way as raw milk products – to alert consumers to the potential additional risks in terms of food safety and hygiene, write Daniel Pearsall and Matt Ridley.  

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NEWS: Think-tank welcomes BBC correcting inaccurate statements about organic farming in information aimed at school pupils

 

The BBC has revised misleading and factually inaccurate statements about different farming systems on its exam revision website BBC Bitesize following a complaint lodged by pro-science think-tank Science for Sustainable Agriculture.

 

Simplistic assertions in content aimed at GCSE and National 5 students such as “intensive farming reduces biodiversity and increases pollution”, “organic milk and beef are produced without using antibiotics”, and “organic farmers do not apply pesticides to their crops” have now been removed from the site.

 

In its original letter to BBC director general Tim Davie, SSA pointed out that these statements were factually incorrect. Organic livestock farmers do use antibiotics (including those produced using GMOs), and they do use pesticides, some of which have been shown to have a more toxic and environmentally damaging profile than their synthetic counterparts.

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At last! A new, more science-based, outcomes-focused approach to defining regenerative agriculture

Dr Julian Little

The recent publication of the SAI Platform’s global framework document for defining and measuring the outcomes of regenerative agriculture provides a welcome and much-needed injection of science-based thinking. In expressing the resource use and environmental impacts of regen ag farming practices per unit of production, this model provides a more meaningful and evidence-based approach to measuring farm-level sustainability than other more subjective models such as the Sustainable Food Trust’s Global Farm Metric and the Sustainable Markets Initiative, writes Dr Julian Little.

 

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NEWS: Think-tank ticks off organic sector body for misleading and factually inaccurate claims over gene edited microbes

 

Pro-science think-tank Science for Sustainable Agriculture (SSA) has written to Roger Kerr, chief executive of organic sector body Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G), to correct misinformation contained in a letter from Mr Kerr recently published in the farming media.

 

In the letter, Mr Kerr suggested that the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act passed earlier this year ‘gave a green light to pesticide and biotech companies to develop and release genetically edited microbes’, warning that ‘the unintended consequences could be catastrophic’.    

 

This statement is factually incorrect and hugely misleading since the Act does not apply to gene edited microbes, which will continue to be covered by existing GMO regulations. SSA suggested that OF&G should in future check its facts before spreading misinformation.

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Reduce synthetic fertilisers and improve yields? The microbiome revolution comes to agriculture

Henry Miller & Kathleen Hefferon

Advances in our scientific understanding of the soil microbiome will lead to significant changes to our agricultural practices, opening up the potential to improve crop yields while reducing dependence on synthetic nitrogen and the damage it causes to our environment. Just as our growing comprehension of the human microbiome is revolutionising medicine, our increasing familiarity with the soil microbiome will transform agriculture, write Henry Miller and Kathleen Hefferon.

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Agri-Tech Catapult is a sensible move - but it must learn from past mistakes

Professor Tina Barsby OBE

Merging three of the four UK Agri-Tech Centres into a single Agri-Tech Catapult makes sense, but there are significant lessons to be learned from the past 10 years if it is to deliver meaningful improvements in the translation and uptake of new farming technologies and innovations. With a return on investment of just 0.6:1, the Agri-Tech Centres have not delivered value for money, constrained by a risky ‘capital-only’ funding model, and lacking a core focus on genetic innovation, the single most important factor driving on-farm productivity gains, writes plant scientist Professor Tina Barsby.

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No such thing as natural farming

Maarten J. Chrispeels

 

Maarten Chrispeels, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Molecular Biology at the University of California San Diego, reflects on a historic stand-off between organic wine producers and GM crop farmers in Mendocino County, California, the first US country to vote for a ban on growing GM crops in 2004. He warns that rejecting modern technologies would be a disastrous development if we are to feed the 9 billion people who soon will inhabit our planet. The organic farmers of Mendocino hoodwinked the public into believing their practices were more "natural." But there is nothing natural about farming, he says. We should instead be worrying about sustainability, and embracing farming technologies and systems which can help us produce more food with less impact on the environment.  

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NEWS: State of Nature report ‘ignores the scientific evidence’ in continuing to blame high yield farming for biodiversity declines

Pro-science think tank Science for Sustainable Agriculture issued a response to the State of Nature report, saying it ignores the enormous progress made by Britain’s farmers to produce food more sustainably.

 

For example, through more precise application of pesticides and fertiliser, the adoption of low-till cultivation, and selection of high-yielding crops that are less reliant on chemicals.

The group also challenges the report’s “relentless focus” on agri-environmental, or “land-sharing”, policy approaches.

“The scientific evidence increasingly suggests that a land-sparing approach – farming as productively as possible on land that is farmed, leaving more room for natural habitats to be left intact – is the most effective way to produce sufficient food, while preventing biodiversity loss and tackling climate change.”

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NEWS: Gene edited PRRS resistant pigs expected to get US approval for commercialisation early next year. UK pig farmers ask: “When can we get access?”

 

Leading Yorkshire pig producer Rob Beckett has written to Defra minister Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP, urging the UK Government to speed up plans to allow the commercial use of precision breeding techniques in farmed animals.

 

Mr Beckett pointed to developments in the US, where gene edited pigs with complete resistance to the devastating PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) virus are expected to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in early 2024.

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UK plant breeders welcome 'quantum shift' in precision bred food and feed approval process for England

Robin Wood

A ‘quantum shift’ by the Food Standards Agency in its planned approach to regulating gene edited food and feed products puts England on course to adopt one of the most progressive and enabling regulatory systems in the world. This could unlock significant new investment and economic activity by plant breeders and, combined with the UK’s world-leading science base in crop genetics, could establish Britain as a global hub for gene editing research and innovation, writes Robin Wood, chairman of the British Society of Plant Breeders and deputy chairman of independent UK plant breeding company, Elsoms Seeds.

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