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plant sex in silico

Monsanto Is Going Organic in a Quest for the Perfect Veggie - "The lettuce, peppers, and broccoli—plus a melon and an onion, with a watermelon soon to follow—aren't genetically modified at all. Monsanto created all these veggies using good old-fashioned crossbreeding, the same technology that farmers have been using to optimize crops for millennia. That doesn't mean they are low tech, exactly. Stark's division is drawing on Monsanto's accumulated scientific know-how to create vegetables that have all the advantages of genetically modified organisms without any of the Frankenfoods ick factor." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 8, 2014 - 52 comments

 

Maple Syrup Revolution: New Discovery Could Change the Business Forever

"In October 2013, Drs. Tim Perkins and Abby van Den Berg of the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center, revealed the findings of a study at a maple syrup conference in New Brunswick, Canada that sent waves through the industry. In 2010, they were studying vacuum systems in sap collection operations. Based on the observation that one of the mature trees in the study that was missing most of its top was still yielding high volumes of sap, they hypothesized that the maples were possibly drawing moisture from the soil and not the crown. Previously, they had presumed that the sap dripping from tap holes was coming from the upper portion of the tree. But, if the tree was missing most of its crown then, they surmised, it must be drawing moisture from the roots. ... They realized that their discovery meant sugarmakers could use saplings, densely planted in open fields, to harvest sap. In other words, it is possible that maple syrup could now be produced as a row crop like every other commercial crop in North America." [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jan 23, 2014 - 102 comments

These are very calm pigs, and that’s the way we want them to be.

Danish Crown is the world's largest exporter of pork, killing approximately 100,000 pigs a week to cater to the growing global demand for meat. Alastair Philip Wiper visited the company's abattoir in Horsens to capture a behind-the-scenes look at the entire process, starting at the pens where the pigs arrive and moving through the spaces where the animals are slaughtered, butchered and packaged for sale.
posted by timshel on Jan 23, 2014 - 40 comments

A Little Museum in Each Blog

Each of Historian Barbara Wells Sarudy's six blogs contains a wealth of esoteric treasures: "President John Adams declared, “History is not the Province of the Ladies.” Oh well, I'll give it a try." [more inside]
posted by whimsicalnymph on Jan 5, 2014 - 6 comments

Your tax dollars at work

The book on Wood-Frame House Construction (with diagrams) is brought to you by the USDA Forest Service. Here is the full online index of USDA Agriculture Handbooks. They're public domain. [more inside]
posted by aniola on Dec 14, 2013 - 15 comments

The community garden, red in tooth and claw

“People have this idea, because it’s a ‘community’ garden, you’ll have a bunch of people sitting around holding hands, singing ‘Kumbaya,’” says Julie Beals, executive director of the Los Angeles Community Garden Council (LACGC ). “Have you seen an actual community?”
posted by jason's_planet on Dec 7, 2013 - 43 comments

Razing and burning: the costs of rapid urbanization in China

With 53 self-immolations since 2009, these Chinese villagers might bring to mind the self-immolation by Tibetans, but the Chinese villagers are highlighting a different issue. The rapid urbanization of China is having a number of impacts across the country, with rural communities being demolished to build new urban centers. While many people are moving from rural farms to cities to find more lucrative jobs, some are fighting back to keep their rural communities intact, or to retain their family farms. When other options are gone, desperate villagers turn to self-immolation (NPR). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Oct 28, 2013 - 4 comments

"Certified humane raised."

This Is What Humane Slaughter Looks Like. Is It Good Enough? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 17, 2013 - 99 comments

And still the party goes on.

Nero's Guests is a story about India’s agrarian crisis and the growing inequality seen through the work of the Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu, P Sainath. The entire film is uncopyrighted and available to watch online. As Sainath says, "There are two kinds of journalists. One kind are journalists, the other are stenographers." As to the silence of the mainstream Indian media on the farmer suicides, he noted:
"Tacitus despised Nero. His writings on the Emperor show us that. However, he wrote very little about his guests. Those who could pop that fig while human torches burned around them. But then, come to think of it, the media of our time – the first-drafters-of history – are remarkably silent about this side of our own elite. Too many of whom are today just that. Nero’s Guests.

posted by spamandkimchi on Oct 6, 2013 - 6 comments

United States of America

Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 29, 2013 - 49 comments

A Niche at the Edge of the Crop Circle

How do farmers deal with wasted acreage at the corners of their crop circles? Some add corner systems, so water sprayers can reach the otherwise untouched land at the edges of the sprayers' reach. But as Edible Geography points out, "ecologists are preaching the potential of pivot corners. In a simplified landscape of monoculture crop circles, the corners can restore complexity: left as native perennial grassland or managed as early successional habitat, these concave triangles can provide valuable habitat for bees, birds, and predatory insects to support crop pollination and natural pest control." A short look at the costs and benefits of pivot discards.
posted by MonkeyToes on Sep 9, 2013 - 25 comments

"Now the only thing they farm is wind.”

The end of American Prairie Farming.
posted by Chrischris on Sep 3, 2013 - 36 comments

Combat Farming

"Through my business, I worked in Afghanistan on agriculture projects designed to assist with stabilization efforts in the region. I want to share with you some of the lessons learned along with some photos. I hope these are beneficial to those of you looking into or already working on low tech, sustainable farming/gardening projects here in the states." A first-person account of working with the locals to reconnect them with the land. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes on Aug 9, 2013 - 12 comments

Rape on the Job in America

Rape in the Fields is a Frontline documentary that explores the persistent allegations that female agricultural workers in the U.S. are frequently sexually assaulted and harassed by supervisors who exploit their (often undocumented) immigrant status. Victims typically do not seek help from US law enforcement, either out of fear that they will be fired, deported or worse, or from a lack of understanding of U.S. law. Reviews: Popmatters. NY Times [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 26, 2013 - 19 comments

Ag Gag

Gagged by Big Ag. "Horrific abuse. Rampant contamination. And the crime is…exposing it?"
posted by homunculus on Jun 19, 2013 - 58 comments

The war against the organic mafia

Fraud in the organic farming sector has become a thriving international industry made up of a complex network of companies that bears all the marks of traditional organised crime. Excerpts.
posted by infini on May 22, 2013 - 48 comments

How to feed 10,000 people on 3 urban acres

Will Allen's Growing Power operates urban farms. His first Milwaukee farm is three urban acres where he grows enough food to feed 10,000 people. An interview by the Splendid Table's Lynne Rossetto Kasper in support of his new book. Previously.
posted by shothotbot on May 6, 2013 - 39 comments

Corn-fed Congo?

"I've run these operations, and I know that food aid often gets there after everyone's dead." The new proposal to transfer the food aid budget from the Dept of Agriculture to the Agency for International Development causes a ruckus in the U.S. Congress. Why? The new plan also proposes buying some of the food in the affected countries, closer to disaster areas, instead of only buying from American farmers as the current law requires. The chairman of the U.S. House agriculture subcommittee, Rep. Aderholt (R-Alabama), said he was concerned that removing food aid from the agriculture budget would hurt American farmers (NYT). Aid Watch bloggers have long criticized U.S. food aid policies for risking millions of lives around the world to keep a few hundred jobs in Kansas. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on May 5, 2013 - 19 comments

Sense About Science

With a database of over 5,000 scientists, from Nobel prize winners to postdocs and PhD students, Sense About Science works in partnership with scientific bodies, research publishers, policy makers, the public and the media, to change public discussions about science and evidence. They make these scientists available for questions from civic organizations and the public looking for scientific advice from experts, campaign for the promotion of scientific principles in public policy, and publish neat guides to understanding science intended for laypeople. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Feb 28, 2013 - 9 comments

Freedom From Famine - The Norman Borlaug Story

A documentary film about Norman Borlaug, the Iowa farm boy who saved over a billion people from starvation. (1:06:47) Americans have little knowledge of one of their greatest sons. Why do schoolchildren in China, India, Mexico, and Pakistan know the name and work of Nobel Peace Prize winner [His speech] Norman Borlaug while so few of his countrymen have never heard of him? How did a dirt-poor farm boy from rural Iowa grow up to save a billion people worldwide from starvation and malnutrition and become the father of the Green Revolution? What were the inherited traits and environmental factors that shaped his astonishing journey and led to successes that surprised even him? What can we learn from his life and views that might help the human race survive the next critical century? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jan 28, 2013 - 84 comments

Coronet Instructional Films

From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 1, 2012 - 41 comments

Does success spell doom for Homo sapiens?

State of the Species: Will the unprecedented success of Homo sapiens lead to an unavoidable downfall? [Via]
posted by homunculus on Oct 28, 2012 - 46 comments

Inspiring and amazing urban farming geek, Eric Maundu

Eric Maundu - who comes from Kenya, now lives in West Oakland and is trained in industrial robotics- transforms unused spaces into productive, small aquaponic farms. He has taken the agricultural craft one step further and made his gardens smart. He explores new frontiers of computer-controlled gardening. More information about this story. His company, Kijani Grows. Via faircompanies.com.
posted by nickyskye on Oct 24, 2012 - 21 comments

Corn Mazes

In a triumph of both technology and agriculture, the Guinness World Record for largest Quick Response code has been claimed by a corn maze.* [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Oct 14, 2012 - 26 comments

Roundup all the farmers

"Farmer Bowman began purchasing Monsanto’s patented seeds in 1999 and, because of the licensing agreement, did not save any of the seed for future planting. But he also bought so-called “commodity” seed from a local grain elevator, which acts as a clearinghouse for farmers to buy and sell seed. But given that more than 90 percent of the soybeans planted in the area were Roundup Ready crops, the elevator’s seed was contaminated with Monsanto’s patented seed. Farmer Bowman planted that commodity seed, which was substantially cheaper to purchase, to produce a second, late-season crop, which is generally more risky and lower yielding. He then used seeds generated in one late-season harvest to help produce subsequent late-season crops. Monsanto sued him for patent infringement, and he lost." [more inside]
posted by sio42 on Oct 11, 2012 - 105 comments

Corn and Drought

July 2012 was the hottest month ever recorded in the continental United States. 70% of Iowa - the nation's largest corn producer - is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture rates 50% of the nation's corn crop as poor or very poor. Today U.S. corn prices reached an all-time high. The impact will be global. Wired looks at "Why King Corn Wasn't Ready For The Drought".
posted by Egg Shen on Aug 9, 2012 - 149 comments

Travel on your stomach

The Perennial Plate: An American Food Trip is an online documentary series of short videos featuring "adventurous and sustainable eating" beginning in Minnesota and continuing around the US.
posted by Miko on Jul 22, 2012 - 3 comments

A Heart in the Forest

"Winston Howes, 70, spent a week planting each oak sapling after his wife of 33 years Janet died suddenly 17 years ago."
posted by gilrain on Jul 13, 2012 - 36 comments

Dirtying Up Our Diets

Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders during the past few decades is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us. [more inside]
posted by j03 on Jun 22, 2012 - 84 comments

The honeybees are still dying

The honeybees are still dying.
posted by Zarkonnen on May 7, 2012 - 41 comments

In a sympathetic biochemical photo-reactive process, the Biosphere has altered the litho-sphere into the pedosphere, the cryo-sphere, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere*

The Loess Plateau in China’s Northwest is home to more than 50 million people. Centuries of overuse led to one of the highest erosion rates in the world and widespread poverty. Two projects (results) set out to restore the Loess Plateau. [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Mar 22, 2012 - 7 comments

How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public's Expense

How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public's Expense: Report looks at methods of corporate abuse, suggests steps toward reform [Full Report (PDF)] [Executive Summary (PDF)] [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Mar 11, 2012 - 27 comments

Pew Pew Pew!

In Bolivia's jungles and steep cliffs the Yungas people do not walk. They fly. On ropes. Like birds. Faster than astronauts.
posted by lemuring on Feb 22, 2012 - 37 comments

You've been living in a dream world, Ginger.

"As long as their brain stem is intact, the homeostatic functions of the chicken will continue to operate." It's the Matrix. For chickens.
posted by Cool Papa Bell on Feb 15, 2012 - 89 comments

Canadian Professor named Italian Junior Minister of Agriculture... then not.

In "a comedy of errors", a professor of business at Canada's University of Guelph was accidentally named the Junior Minister of Agriculture for Italy. An interview with Professor Francesco Braga tells the confusing story. It turns out the Prime Minister's office had meant to name Professor Franco Braga, of Sapienza – Università di Roma, to the post.
posted by knile on Dec 2, 2011 - 12 comments

We Need To Talk About Lleyn

November is not just about Movember - we're now firmly into Wovember, the month-long campaign by knitters to celebrate wool fibres and denounce misleading marketing. But what do we mean when we talk about 'wool'?
posted by mippy on Nov 29, 2011 - 74 comments

Fast and Furious

The Caravan magazine takes a long, hard look at the Formula 1 inaugural enterprise in India.
posted by vidur on Nov 27, 2011 - 33 comments

*Inhales* hmmm, needs more horse...

"It begins with a freshly showered person riding naked for hours on a clean, washed horse inside a two-meter-high 'forest' of marijuana. Afterwards, the human body and that of the horse are covered with a thick layer of resin mixed with sweat. This produces a substance that is usually dark brown in color, which is then thoroughly scraped off the human and horse's bodies." The Chu (sometimes Chui or Chuy) valley produced much of the marijuana available in the Soviet Union, and continues its unique harvest to this day. Via The World on PRI (audio link). [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on Sep 9, 2011 - 64 comments

Science & technology might be exempt from E.U. austerity measures

There is an European Commission budgetary proposal to boost E.U. funding for science and technology by 45% from €55B to €80B by trimming some fat form the controversial Common Agricultural Policy. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jul 7, 2011 - 6 comments

Crops don't pick themselves

This year Georgia (US state) passed an Arizona-style law to make life and employment harder on its undocumented immigrants, including about 425,000 agricultural workers. In the spring, farmers argued that they would be unable to recruit new workers on time for the summer harvest with a sudden change in policy. Surprisingly, the Obama administration did not step in to block the law taking effect. The result is an estimated 46% of farms without enough workers and $300M of crops rotting in the fields. Georgia's govenor is shocked.
posted by a robot made out of meat on Jun 23, 2011 - 215 comments

The True Cost of Tomatoes

The True Cost of Tomatoes.
posted by storybored on Jun 15, 2011 - 75 comments

Heading for the last Roundup?

Industry regulators have known for years that Monsanto's Roundup herbicide causes birth defects according to a newly released report by Earth Open Source. Regulators knew as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals... Although the European Commission has known that glyphosate causes malformations since at least 2002, the information was not made public. (Previously) [more inside]
posted by Twang on Jun 7, 2011 - 56 comments

Another green world

Over the past 50 years, the small coastal plain (campo), some 30 kilometers southwest of the city of Almería, has been intensively developed for agriculture. An estimated 20,000 hecatres of extra-early market produce is grown in greenhouses in the Campo de Dalías, and it accounts for over $1.5 billion in economic activity. [more inside]
posted by Casimir on Apr 29, 2011 - 24 comments

Stinkbugs: Threat or Menace?

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys) is an invasive insect introduced from China and first spotted in the United States in 1998 in Allentown, PA. [more inside]
posted by electroboy on Apr 29, 2011 - 65 comments

Yale's 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

Yale's 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals.
posted by wilful on Apr 22, 2011 - 8 comments

the future of food and farming

How to feed 9 billion people: The global food supply is starting to get tight, with increasing sensitivity to droughts and floods causing price spikes and food shortages. The UK commissioned a report to examine how to feed a planet with a population that is set to increase to 9 billion by 2050. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 22, 2011 - 50 comments

Three Paths for Four Chambers

It was Alex St. Martin's gory musket injury that paved the way for cow fistulation, a hands-on method to explore the inner workings of bovine digestion.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Mar 18, 2011 - 58 comments

Land Girls and Lumber Jills

Land Girls and Lumber Jills is an exhibit at Scotland's National War Museum. It explores the history of the Women's Land Army and the Women's Timber Corps. These two organizations were formed during the First World War to compensate for shortages in male laborers in agriculture and forestry, respectively. The museum's exhibition ties in a collection on flickr, interviews and a book available for order online. Other sources online will allow one to hear audio samples of the Land Girls' stories, read Land Girls' and Lumber Jills' memoirs and watch old propaganda clips about them or more recent documentary videos (more on YT). Officially commemorated in 2008, these civilian service organizations have also been the subject of a film, "The Land Girls" (trailer), an ITV sitcom, and a BBC series (Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

The British Women's Land Army model was successfully replicated in the U.S. with the Woman's Land Army of America (whose members were known as "farmerettes") and in Australia with the Australian Women's Land Army.
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal on Dec 16, 2010 - 8 comments

Bee-killing pesticide approved by EPA

A leaked document shows the EPA under the Bush administration approved the pesticide clothianidin for widespread use on many crops, including corn, despite the findings from EPA scientists that it was a bee-killer. It may be responsible for the recent "Honeybee Depopulation Syndrome," which has been negatively affecting agriculture throughout North America. Previously.
posted by Slap*Happy on Dec 14, 2010 - 41 comments

God Speed the Sexism

In a new paper, Harvard economics Alberto Alesina and Nathan Nunn and UCLA economist Paola Giuliano correlate "societies with a tradition of plough agriculture" with "female labor force participation, female participation in politics, female ownership of firms, the sex ratio and self-expressed attitudes about the role of women in society." In short, if your ancestors used a plough, you're likely to think women belong in the kitchen.
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Dec 1, 2010 - 30 comments

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