U N Study Says Agro-Ecology Can Double Farm Production
A newly published report by the Office of Human Rights at the United Nations says small-scale, ecological farming can double world food production within ten years. Author of the report, Olivier de Schutter, says agroecological methods of farming outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in areas where the hungry live. De Schutter acknowledged that increased food production requires an education-intensive approach to farming. While the experimental projects conducted in developing countries showed impressive productivity yields, those yields depend on educating the farmers, a task which requires both policy and financial backing. That backing is hard to come by, because the approach De Schutter advocates flies in the face of conventional industrial farming. Private industry will not invest money in projects which do not open up markets for patented processes, seeds, or chemicals. The report identified a dozen measures which nations could implement as policy changes to assist the change to ecologically stable farming.
On the same day that the U N report was published, Monsanto announced a partnership with Sapphire Energy corporation. The agreement will leverage Sapphire's algae-based research platform to help discover genes that could be applied to agriculture. "Sapphire's expertise in algal research offers a novel platform that will allow us to screen and identify promising genes faster," said Robb Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer. "We face a common goal in looking for ways to improve upon an organism's ability to achieve greater productivity under optimal and sub-optimal environmental conditions. Together with Sapphire, we can identify genes affecting such traits in algae that might also be applied to corn, cotton, soybeans and other crops."
Both the U.N. report advocating ecologically-responsible farming and the Monsanto partnership share the goal of increasing food production for a growing population. One advocates returning to the traditional cycles of natural ecology; the other advocates using technology in genetic engineering to produce food. One initiative is unfunded. The other is backed by significant investment. Which one will be coming to a grocery store near you?
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