……………………..Limits are for governments.

Norman Borlaug: One Man’s Scientific Vision and Perseverance Extends the Staff of Life to Hundreds of Millions of People Around the World

Norman Ernest Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009) “was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate who has been called “the father of the Green Revolution”. Borlaug was one of six people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honor.

Borlaug received his Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1942. He took up an agricultural research position in Mexico, where he developed semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties.

During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations.[5] These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

Later in his life, he helped apply these methods of increasing food production to Asia and Africa.

Dwarfing

Dwarfing is an important agronomic quality for wheat; dwarf plants produce thick stems. The cultivars Borlaug worked with had tall, thin stalks. Taller wheat grasses better compete for sunlight, but tend to collapse under the weight of the extra grain—a trait called lodging— from the rapid growth spurts induced by nitrogen fertilizer Borlaug used in the poor soil. To prevent this, he bred wheat to favor shorter, stronger stalks that could better support larger seed heads. In 1953, he acquired a Japanese dwarf variety of wheat called Norin 10 developed by Orville Vogel, that had been crossed with a high-yielding American cultivar called Brevor 14.[19] Norin 10/Brevor is semi-dwarf (one-half to two-thirds the height of standard varieties) and produces more stalks and thus more heads of grain per plant. Also, larger amounts of assimilate were partitioned into the actual grains, further increasing the yield. Borlaug crossbred the semi-dwarf Norin 10/Brevor cultivar with his disease-resistant cultivars to produce wheat varieties that were adapted to tropical and sub-tropical climates.[20]

Borlaug’s new semi-dwarf, disease-resistant varieties, called Pitic 62 and Penjamo 62, changed the potential yield of spring wheat dramatically. By 1963, 95% of Mexico’s wheat crops used the semi-dwarf varieties developed by Borlaug. That year, the harvest was six times larger than in 1944, the year Borlaug arrived in Mexico. Mexico had become fully self-sufficient in wheat production, and a net exporter of wheat.[21] Four other high yield varieties were also released, in 1964: Lerma Rojo 64, Siete Cerros, Sonora 64, and Super X.”               ~Wikipedia

“[S]ome of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be shocked that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things”.

~Norman Borlaug, on environmental and other groups hostile to bringing high yield crops to Africa

Happy Autumn and Fall Festivities
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30 responses

  1. Production in Africa

    In the early 1980s, environmental groups that were opposed to Borlaug’s methods campaigned against his planned expansion of efforts into Africa. They prompted the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and the World Bank to stop funding most of his African agriculture projects. Western European governments were persuaded to stop supplying fertilizer to Africa. According to David Seckler, former Director General of the International Water Management Institute, “the environmental community in the 1980s went crazy pressuring the donor countries and the big foundations not to support ideas like inorganic fertilizers for Africa.”[23]

    In 1984, during the Ethiopian famine, Ryoichi Sasakawa, the chairman of the Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation (now the Nippon Foundation), contacted the semi-retired Borlaug, wondering why the methods used in Asia were not extended to Africa, and hoping Borlaug could help. He managed to convince Borlaug to help with this new effort,[32] and subsequently founded the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) to coordinate the project.
    Nigerian exchange students meet Norman Borlaug (third from right) at the World Food seminar, 2003

    The SAA is a research and extension organization that aims to increase food production in African countries that are struggling with food shortages. “I assumed we’d do a few years of research first,” Borlaug later recalled, “but after I saw the terrible circumstances there, I said, ‘Let’s just start growing’.”[23] Soon, Borlaug and the SAA had projects in seven countries. Yields of maize and sorghum in developed African countries doubled between 1983 and 1985.[not in citation given][33] Yields of wheat, cassava, and cowpeas also increased in these countries.[citation needed] At present, program activities are under way in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.

    From 1986 to 2009, Borlaug was the President of the SAA. That year, a joint venture between The Carter Center and SAA was launched called Sasakawa-Global 2000 (SG 2000).[34] The program focuses on food, population and agricultural policy.[35] Since then, more than 8 million African, small-scale farmers in 15 countries have been trained in SAA farming techniques, which have helped them to double or triple grain production.[36] Those elements that allowed Borlaug’s projects to succeed in India and Pakistan, such as well-organized economies and transportation and irrigation systems, are severely lacking throughout Africa, posing additional obstacles to increasing yields. Because of this, Borlaug’s initial projects were restricted to developed regions of the continent.

    Despite these setbacks, Borlaug found encouragement. Visiting Ethiopia in 1994, Jimmy Carter won Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s support for a campaign seeking to aid farmers, using the fertilizer diammonium phosphate and Borlaug’s methods. The following season, Ethiopia recorded the largest harvests of major crops in history, with a 32% increase in production, and a 15% increase in average yield over the previous season. For Borlaug, the rapid increase in yields suggests that there is still hope for higher food production throughout sub-Saharan Africa.[23] ~Wikipedia

    October 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm

  2. “Global food prices continue to rise. The World Bank’s food price index increased by 15% between October 2010 and January 2011 and is only 3% below its 2008 peak. The last six months have seen sharp increases in the global prices of wheat, maize, sugar and edible oils, with a relatively smaller increase in rice prices. Higher global wheat prices have fed into significant increases in local wheat prices in many countries. Higher maize, sugar, and oil prices have contributed to increase the costs of various types of food, though local maize prices have largely been stable in Sub- Saharan Africa. Local rice prices have increased in line with global prices in some large rice-consuming Asian countries. These food price rises create macro vulnerabilities, particularly for countries with a high share of food imports and limited fiscal space, as well as increases in poverty. Estimates of those who fall into, and move out of, poverty as a result of price rises since June 2010 show there is a net increase in extreme poverty of about 44 million people in low- and middle-income countries.” worldbank org

    October 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm

  3. “The opposition to Borlaug’s intensive farming methods was exacerbated by the negative publicity surrounding genetic engineering. Borlaug’s work was not, properly speaking, in genetic modification. He used so-called natural methods of plant breeding and was wary of the monopolistic agenda of big agribusiness.

    But he saw genetic modification as only a refinement of old plant breeding methods and became a strong advocate of its possibilities, both to enable more mouths to be fed and to help the environment. By producing more food from less land, Borlaug argued, high-yield farming would help preserve Africa’s wild habitats from further depletion by slash-and-burn subsistence agriculture. The battle over biotech products, he reflected bitterly, was being fought mainly in the rich West, where “governments collectively subsidise their very small farming populations to the tune of $350 billion a year and where many of the major problems of human nutrition are related to obesity”.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/science-obituaries/6183951/Norman-Borlaug.html

    October 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm

  4. Here is a wonderfully funny and balanced article about food fads and phobias:

    A little bit of what you fancy
    By Dr Desmond Morris
    http://www.sirc.org/articles/desmond.html

    – In which he warns his mother that continuing to eat whatever she likes, with such relish, will cause her to die young. (His mother at the time of this helpful admonition was 99 years of age.)

    He also discusses the anxieties raised by food fashions which cause eating to be clouded by doubts – rather than a relaxed and enjoyable time, which is better for digestion and the function of the parasympathetic nervous system.

    Genetically modified foods are discussed, as not much different than what has been practiced in agriculture for the last 10,000 years.

    Comment: I am happy for all who are zealous about their own diets. Use the internet to research where you can buy the kind of organic or low-yield grains you would like to eat.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm

  5. Comment:
    It is time to realize that we cannot allow politicians, activists, and scientific advocacy groups the ability to weaken, alter, or destroy whole markets and economies every time one of them performs a study and gives rats tumors!

    Inre: Study indicates GM food caused tumors

    Legitimate fears over GM crops?
    By Martin Livermore, Scientific Alliance, Sep 20, 2012

    http://www.scientific-alliance.org/scientific-alliance-newsletter/legitimate-fears-over-gm-crops

    Comment: That is an interesting link. It seems rats given GM food got tumors and died. However, 25% of the smaller control group also developed tumors, and other results were not reported.

    The susceptibility of rats to tumors is very high in the first place, according to this pet care website:

    “Mammary cancer is a common cause of tumors in rats and mice and can occur in both males and females. The prevalence of tumors varies with the strain of animal. In some mouse strains, 70% develop mammary tumors. In mice, mammary tumors are also associated with the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV), which predisposes a mouse to develop mammary cancer. One strain of this virus is termed the “Bittner agent.””

    Let’s also keep in mind that there is an enormous variety of lab animals used for testing. These have varying degrees of susceptibility to cancers and infections, and are specially modified in order to study these diseases. For example: http://jaxmice.jax.org/list/newavl_ra3.html

    October 26, 2012 at 9:31 am

  6. ~Archived Article~

    Legitimate fears over GM crops?
    http://www.scientific-alliance.org/scientific-alliance-newsletter/legitimate-fears-over-gm-crops

    This week, we have seen two news items about genetically modified crops. First, we learn that Dow AgroScience has developed a new herbicide-tolerant crop. Second, French researchers claim (in a peer-reviewed research paper) that long-term feeding of rats with the current generation of Roundup Ready maize causes tumour development and higher mortality rates.

    For those who have campaigned against the supposed evils of GM, this merely confirms their beliefs. In their view, GM food is dangerous, and American companies are set on pushing new products on to the market in the drive for more profits, whatever the consequences. On the other hand, there will many – and not just biotech company employees – who see this view as a grotesque distortion of a far more positive reality.

    But in the middle there are many people who don’t necessarily believe the scare stories entirely but nevertheless are made rather uneasy by them. Are they right to worry and avoid biotech crops ‘just in case’? Or are journalists, as ever looking for a good story, guilty of stirring up unnecessary trouble, and simply acting as activists’ useful idiots?

    It’s interesting to look at the way these stories have been reported. The work of a group led by Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen was published online on 19 September by the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize). Unusually, journalists were not allowed to preview it before its release. The main findings were that a particular strain of rats studied over their entire lifetimes developed more tumours and died earlier if they were fed on the GM maize variety. Others, fed on conventional maize but provided with water containing low levels of Roundup, also developed more tumours than the controls.

    But here the plot thickens. Despite these superficially worrying findings, the design of the experiment appears to be incapable of demonstrating any effects with any statistical rigour. 25% of the (smaller) control group also died after developing tumours, but some of the test groups (it is unclear which) actually had fewer health problems. There was also no dose-response effect, which would normally occur only if a substance was toxic at extremely low levels, which is highly unlikely for a crop or compound which has been widely used for many years.

    Some journalists have been wary of the results, particularly as Professor Séralini has form. He is president of the Scientific Council of CRIIGEN (the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering) which campaigns against GM crops, and has published similar studies previously. The New Scientist’s report on the latest paper is distinctly sceptical (Study linking GM crops and cancer questioned).

    But, inevitably, other journalists made much more of this. The Daily Mail, for example, in full campaigning, scaremongering mode ran with the headline Cancer row over GM foods as study said it did THIS to rats…and can cause organ damage and early death in humans. THIS refers to images of rats with enormous and grotesque tumours. Unusually, these pictures were part of the published paper. The Mail article upped the ante with a sidebar headlined Agent Orange to kill GM weed, which provides a convenient link to the other story in the media this week, about the new Dow herbicide tolerance trait.

    Roundup Ready crops have been an enormous success in both north and south America. Glyphosate, the active ingredient, is a broad-spectrum herbicide which has very low toxicity and is environmentally benign. However, it is inevitable that long-term use of a single herbicide will lead to resistance developing in some weed populations. This has led Monsanto’s rival, Dow, to develop crops tolerant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D. Assuming this is approved by the American authorities, farmers will have the choice of using one of two herbicides, or both together if necessary. If weed populations are not subjected to the same chemical season after season, the development of resistance is less likely.

    So far, so sensible, but the problem is that 2,4-D is a long-established weedkiller which was one ingredient of the infamous Agent Orange, widely used as a defoliant by US Forces in Vietnam. 2,4-D was not the cause of the extensive health problems suffered by people exposed to it; in fact it is still in common use by gardeners. But the association has been too tempting for some journalists to resist, hence the BBC story Agent Orange chemical in GM war on resistant weeds. The tone of this is critical of modern agricultural technology, and the Agent Orange association in the headline makes the piece much more negative than it deserves to be.

    The lesson from these two stories is that, despite much more balanced reporting about crop biotechnology in recent years and clear evidence of little public concern about the topic, there is often an inbuilt media bias and distrust of the usual suspects: science and big business. In journalism this might be only to be expected, but the publication of a deeply flawed study in a peer-reviewed journal should give us pause for thought.

    The paper was submitted by a well-known campaigning activist scientist, which might put editorial staff on alert. Peer review is intended to stop poor quality studies being published, and the great majority of toxicologists or statisticians would surely have recommended rejection. The conclusion must be that the editor chose reviewers sympathetic to Sérlanini’s views. Since publication in a peer-reviewed journal gives any paper an aura of credibility, this has clearly helped to give the story a head start.

    The corrosive influence of anti-GM campaigners continues to be a cause of concern. How we move beyond this situation is a moot point, but a first step would be for scientists to do their work properly and for journal editors to be objective about their publication criteria.

    October 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm

  7. ~Archived Article~

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22287-study-linking-gm-crops-and-cancer-questioned.html?full=true

    Study linking GM crops and cancer questioned

    18:15 19 September 2012 by Debora MacKenzie
    For similar stories, visit the Cancer and GM Organisms Topic Guides

    Update: Six French scientific academies issued a statement on 19 October, saying the Séralini study could not reverse previous conclusions that this and other GM crops are safe, because of problems with the experimental design, statistical analysis and animals used, and inadequate data. Meanwhile the European Food Safety Authority declared the study “of insufficient scientific quality to be considered as valid for risk assessment”. As promised, the organisation invited Séralini “to share key additional information”. That invitation was made on 4 October, and repeated on 19 October. Today, EFSA announced it had (again) made all the data it used to approve the GM maize available to Séralini.

    Original article, posted 19 September 2012

    Today, researchers led by Gilles-Eric Séralini at the University of Caen in France announced evidence for a raft of health problems in rats fed maize that has been modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup. They also found similar health problems in rats fed the herbicide itself.

    The rodents experienced hormone imbalances and more and bigger breast tumours, earlier in life, than rats fed a non-GM diet, the researchers claim. The GM- or pesticide-fed rats also died earlier.

    This kind of GM maize accounts for more than half the US crop, yet the French team says this is the first time it has been tested for toxicity throughout a rat’s lifespan (Food and Chemical Toxicology, DOI: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.08.005).

    Are the findings reliable?
    There is little to suggest they are. Tom Sanders, head of nutritional research at King’s College London, says that the strain of rat the French team used gets breast tumours easily, especially when given unlimited food, or maize contaminated by a common fungus that causes hormone imbalance, or just allowed to age. There were no data on food intake or tests for fungus in the maize, so we don’t know whether this was a factor.

    But didn’t the treated rats get sicker than the untreated rats?
    Some did, but that’s not the full story. It wasn’t that rats fed GM maize or herbicide got tumours, and the control rats did not. Five of the 20 control rats – 25 per cent – got tumours and died, while 60 per cent in “some test groups” that ate GM maize died. Some other test groups, however, were healthier than the controls.

    Toxicologists do a standard mathematical test, called the standard deviation, on such data to see whether the difference is what you might expect from random variation, or can be considered significant. The French team did not present these tests in their paper. They used a complicated and unconventional analysis that Sanders calls “a statistical fishing trip”.

    Anthony Trewavas of the University of Edinburgh, UK, adds that in any case, there should be at least as many controls as test rats – there were only 20 of the former and 80 of the latter – to show how variably tumours appear. Without those additional controls, “these results are of no value”, he says.

    Aside from the statistics, are there any other problems?
    Yes. Tests like this have been done before, more rigorously, and found no effect of GM food on health. The French team claims to be the first to test for the animal’s whole lifespan. But “most toxicology studies are terminated at normal lifespan – 2 years”, as this one was, says Sanders. “Immortality is not an alternative.” And those tests did not find this effect.

    Furthermore, the team claims to see the same toxic effects both with actual Roundup, and with the GM maize – whether or not the maize contained any actual herbicide. It is hard to imagine any way in which a herbicide could have identical toxic effects to a gene tweak that gives the maize a gene for an enzyme that actually destroys the herbicide.

    Does seeming unlikely mean that this is an invalid result?
    Not necessarily. But even more damning from a pharmacological perspective, the team found the same effect at all doses of either herbicide or GM maize. That’s unusual, because nearly all toxic effects worsen as the dose increases – it is considered essential for proving that the agent causes the effect.

    Even the smallest dose that the team applied resulted in alleged effects on the rats. That is sometimes seen with other toxic agents. The team suggests that the effect kicks in at some very low dose, hits its maximum extent immediately, and stays the same at any higher dose.

    But it could more simply mean the GM maize and the herbicide had no measured effect, and that is why the dose made no difference. “They show that old rats get tumours and die,” says Mark Tester of the University of Adelaide, Australia. “That is all that can be concluded.”

    Why would scientists do this?
    The research group has long been opposed to GM crops. It claimed in 2010 to have found evidence of toxicity in tests by the GM-crops giant Monsanto of its own Roundup-resistant maize. Other toxicologists, however, said the supposedly damning data revealed only insignificant fluctuations in the physiology of normal rats.

    French blogger Anton Suwalki, who campaigns against pseudoscience, has a long list of complaints about the group, including what he calls “fantasy statistics”.

    And who funded the work?
    The group was funded by the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering, or CRIIGEN, based in Paris, France. The lead author on today’s study, Séralini, is head of its scientific board, and it pledges to “make every effort towards the removal of the status of secrecy prevailing in genetic engineering experiments and concerning genetically modified crops (GMOs), both being likely to have an impact on the environment and/or on health”.

    Don’t they realise that other scientists criticise their methods?
    They might. The paper is supposed to have been reviewed by other scientists before it was allowed for publication. But the team refused to allow journalists to show the paper to other scientists before the news reports were due to be published.

    October 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm

  8. Meet a Miller: Riceland

    “Riceland Foods
    Riceland Factory

    Riceland provides marketing services for rice, soybeans and wheat grown by its 9,000 farmer-members in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. Each year, its 1,900 employees receive, store, transport process and market more than 125 million bushels (2.5 million metric tons) of grain.

    Riceland is the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice and one of the Mid-South’s major soybean processors.

    A major rice exporter and oil producer, Riceland markets rice and oil products under the Riceland and Chef-way labels, private labels, as ingredients, and in bulk. Riceland products are sold across the nation and to more than 75 foreign destinations.

    Generation after generation of Riceland farmers have planted, cultivated and harvested rice that carries the quality promise of Riceland Rice. That tradition continues today. Each Riceland product is backed by generations of rice farmers whose goal has always been to produce the finest quality rice in the world.

    Mission

    The mission of Riceland Foods, Inc. is to enhance member value through returns and service.”

    Riceland Hunger Relief:

    Arkansas Rice Depot is a non profit hunger relief organization serving the state of Arkansas. Our organization was built on a foundation of rice. Rice growers and the rice industry were our first donors, and have been faithful supporters of Arkansas Rice Depot over the past 27 years. Riceland Foods and it’s members donate the majority of the rice we distribute. The Rice Depot operates four unique programs that provide sensible solutions to hunger in Arkansas. Through these programs:

    We Empower: We believe the key to ending hunger is found in the Arkansas tradition of neighbors helping their needy neighbors. Through our Food For Families program we provide almost 7 million pounds of food each year to over 300 church and community hunger agencies.

    We Serve: No senior citizen should receive a life sentence of hunger. Our Food For Seniors program enables volunteers to deliver 50 pounds of food and household items monthly to homebound seniors facing hunger.

    We Innovate: Because it’s hard to be hungry for knowledge when you’re just plain hungry, Arkansas Rice Depot started Food For Kids, a food pantry program for students in public schools which has been replicated in nearly every state in the nation. Arkansas Rice Depot serves over 25,000 Arkansas children in 600 schools by providing backpacks filled with food and personal care items that are sent home with students facing hunger at night and on the weekends. A backpack filled with food makes a difference that will last a lifetime.

    We Respond: From a house fire that affects one family to tornadoes, ice storms and even large factory closing that affect hundreds; Arkansas Rice Depot’s Disaster Relief program immediately activates, providing emergency relief through our food pantry partners, public schools, direct disaster service events, and even door to door if necessary. Our emergency relief efforts continue as long as there is a need.

    We Depend on You: Without the donations of rice from rice growers, food from other Arkansas food producers and processors, and generous financial donations from caring individuals, businesses and churches, hundreds of thousands of Arkansans would face an empty plate. Special thanks to all the Riceland Foods members who give so generously to help put an end to hunger in Arkansas.

    November 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm

  9. And speaking of the Precautionary Principle, what does happen when the government uses science to suddenly alter agriculture and the economy? The Great Leap Forward did not have particularly good results.

    So I would think that anyone wishing to apply the Precautionary Principle to agriculture must also include episodes like 1. the Great Leap Forward;
    2. Lysenko’s destruction of the food supply – “using science for the public good,”
    3. along with the environmentalists’ opposition to extending Norman Borlaug’s crops and agronomy to African countries.

    Evenly applied, the Precautionary Principle is meaningless.

    November 1, 2012 at 3:39 pm

  10. For those who oppose chemical fertilizers, I would yield your point as soon as you can prove there are enough metric tons of your elite organic bull to cover the fields and fertilize them. Withholding or forbidding chemical fertilizers may be behind the disgusting practice of using human waste to fertilize depleted fields. And please define what production must be per acre bellow which you think you have actually done harm to the wheat and the rice. It’s always nice to define terms.

    November 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm

  11. Norman Ernest Borlaug (born March 25, 1914) is an American agricultural scientist, humanitarian, Nobel laureate, and the father of the Green Revolution[1]. Borlaug received his Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1942. He took up an agricultural research position in Mexico, where he developed semi-dwarf high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties. During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of his grain and modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations. These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people from starvation.[2] He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply. More recently, he has helped apply these methods of increasing food production to Asia and Africa. Borlaug has continually advocated the use of his methods and biotechnology to decrease world famine. His work has faced environmental and socioeconomic criticisms, though he has emphatically rejected many of these as unfounded or untrue. In 1986, he established the World Food Prize to recognize individuals who have improved the quality, quantity or availability of food around the globe.

    November 3, 2012 at 8:02 am

  12. from WUWT Mike Jonas says:
    October 3, 2012 at 1:01 am

    http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=125599&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click
    Press Release 12-185
    Two NSF Sustainability Research Networks Are Each Awarded $12 Million

    November 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

  13. I farmed small grains for many years and have used many different farming techniques from old ways organic to heavy on the modern. I have used 2-4-D, a broad leaf growth hormone as well as, 4-5-T a woody plant growth hormone. These work by causing disruptively fast growth to parts of the plants. They grow themselves to death. 2-4-D/4-5-T mix was used to clear brushlands, as it killed everything but the grass. The creation of these also created Dioxin, which is very toxic to animals and must be removed. Agent Orange was an industrial strength, 2-4-D/4-5-T mix that was used to clear jungle. It was used in huge volumns that were poorly cleaned of the Dioxin, hence problems to those contaminated..
    Roundup is Glyphosate, the active ingredient, is actually a group of similar chemicals that effect the protein creation and use by the plant. Each of the chemicals effect a different protein. So any particular “Roundup” formulation will have greater or less effect on certain plants due to their genetic needs.
    I am not sure of any danger from consuming Roundup ready plants except that the amino acid (B vitamins) balance may be changed from non-Roundup ready plants.
    Trans-genetic BT carriers on the other hand look dangerous to me. BT is a bacterial toxin that kills plant eating insects. To design that into every plant cell looks like a very bad idea to me. BT toxin is dangerous to animals as well, and I eat plants. pg

    @Zeke; The ChiefIO ran a post and thread on this subject early this year. very informative.

    Also, lab rats /mice, that are used for cancer studies, get cancer! from anything! even being handled. Even more interesting they can be healed by the laying on of hands and by healing thoughts. One lab had to be relocated because of a psychic healer experiment that worked so well that their mice Stopped getting cancer! even after the experiment was terminated. pg

    November 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm

  14. That is interesting, PG, I did not know you grew wheat. Did you try organic first, and then move to other methods? Did you sell your crop, or keep it?

    November 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

  15. Wheat growing was and is organic as a default condition, about 8 to 12 hundred pounds to the acre production. Fertilizers can double the yield and pesticides can prevent large loses when they are needed. I general used cultural practices as pest control, as well as crop rotations. Farming is a business of profits in nickles and dimes so costs are tightly controlled. Fertilizers can be cost beneficial but care is needed to maintain balances in the soil. The wheat we grew was for our food as well as for livestock feeding. Barley, rye and oats not fed to livestock was for cash sales. Our main Cash crop was alfalfa hay. pg

    November 13, 2012 at 12:31 am

  16. We hope you and yours had a wonderful day of Thanksgiving.
    500 years ago Nostradamus said that the people that celebrated Thursday would be the hope of the world. As far as I know Americans are the only people that celebrate Thursday. pg

    November 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm

  17. Thank you Pg – I think Nostradamus was absolutely correct, Thursdays are good. :)

    We certainly showed the world that freedom of expression and religion, and economic and political liberty, are optimal for human well-being and work beautifully. That is a blessing.

    November 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm

  18. The secret of the American experiment was that free people could successfully rule themselves. They had no need for Kings, Emperors or tyrants to direct their efforts and keep the peace. They could self organizing to solve their needs. This does require honorable ethical treatment of others, something that is called Christian behavior, or ethical actions toward others.
    Greedy Evil Bastards believe in winning at any cost, and controlling all around them. After all they have the God given Right to rule others. These are also called psychopaths and they strive to rule us all because they think that normal people are too stupid to arrange their own affairs. I find that normal people can very well manage if they receive the honest facts. The GEBs must lie, cheat and deceive to get normal people to follow them. Those of us with greater abilities, do not wish to rule, only to help others that want assistance. pg

    November 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    • Wonderful thoughts, PG, about the American experiment.

      And I am afraid you are right. I have been surprised to discover that even the most brilliant scientists, who ought to know better and stay in their own field, are tempted to reach for the scepter and become the makers of policy, culture, religion, and economies.

      The fact is, most of us would not even elect these scientists for the position of local dog catcher, if the full truth was known about their radical “sustainable planet” agenda.

      November 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm

  19. Comment: It seems that China is very anxious to introduce steep controls on water resources and the types of crops grown in Europe.

    EU, China agree on ag sustainability
    by Staff Writers
    Beijing (UPI) Jun 13, 2012

    The European Union and China will address food security and sustainability issues through “a stronger and closer relationship” in agriculture, officials said this week.

    European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos said Monday in Beijing that the European Union has pledged to build on its existing agricultural relationship with China to “tackle bilateral and international challenges more effectively together.”

    He and Chinese counterpart Han Changfu signed a cooperation plan on agriculture and rural development Monday, which is meant to give “new impetus” to ongoing efforts between them to improve food security.

    The two sides are also working on addressing environmental problems in agriculture as well as sharing “best practices” on sustainability.

    “Agriculture is of crucial interest for both China and the European Union,” Ciolos said. “This cooperation plan is a new step in our commitment to work together to address common challenges — in particular food security, rural development, food safety and climate change.”

    Improving agricultural trade relations between China and the European Union is also among the goals of cooperation plan — the European Union is the third-largest foreign destination for China’s agricultural products. China also counts the European Union as its fifth-largest source of agricultural imports.

    The Chinese-EU agricultural market was worth $8.7 billion in 2010.

    “Agricultural cooperation between China and the European Commission enjoys remarkable achievements and bright prospects,” added Han. “Thus, to promote our bilateral cooperation in the agricultural sector serves our interests of both sides, and represents aspirations shared by China and the European Union.”

    Ciolos said the new plan will further the work begun in 2005 with the EU-China Dialogue on Agriculture. Under that effort, an “agro-ecological compensation” pilot program was launched in 2009.

    In a visit to China last year, the EU leader said agriculture faces multiple challenges in the future, including finding ways keep higher productivity sustainable for the next 50 to 100 years.

    “The increase of productivity in this artificial way is showing its limits and the agricultural experts are faced with a challenge today — how to increase the production to feed a growing population but at the same time regenerating natural resources,” he said.

    The conflict between ever-increasing food production and sustainability was spotlighted in a U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization released last month, which stresses that better governance of agriculture and food systems is the key to making sustainability possible for a projected world population of 9 billion by 2050.

    The FAO said agriculture and food systems consume 30 percent of the world’s energy, while crop and livestock sectors are responsible for 70 percent of all water withdrawals. In the future, however, farmers will have fewer water and energy resources, meaning they will have to produce more with less.

    In response, the United Nations is advocating agricultural techniques that draw on “nature’s contribution to agricultural growth,” for example, soil organic matter, water flow regulation, pollination and natural predation of pests.

    The FAO report calls for a reduction in the massive amounts of waste in traditional agriculture and urges the introduction of “improved crop varieties that are resilient to climate change and use nutrients, water and external inputs more efficiently.”

    November 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

  20. PG Sharrow says: “Wheat growing was and is organic as a default condition, about 8 to 12 hundred pounds to the acre production. Fertilizers can double the yield and pesticides can prevent large loses when they are needed.”

    One of the issues I am attempting to highlight are Norman Borlaug’s own observations and thoughts about agricultural advancements in fertilization, the use of tractors, high-yield varieties, and pest control. As a man who spent his life in poor countries, and who helped less developed countries become net exporters of wheat and other crops, I think he deserves more than any other person who ever lived to be heard on these issues. He clearly felt that activists who blocked these advancements, and who seek to restrict and reverse agricultural success, were fashionable elitists from rich countries.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:00 am

  21. Thought of the Day from Thisiscommonsense:

    Don’t mistake your purification rituals for progress….
    — Freddie, L’Hôte (blog)

    I captured this quote here because as we witness the activism involving agriculture, water, and corn syrup, we should all bear in mind that most religions have a dietary requirement or prohibition of some kind. And the activists who seek to impose their own purity and dietary laws on the entire society are in reality doing so out of a zeal for their own personal preference that has no substantive difference from religious zeal in dietary matters.

    February 28, 2013 at 11:58 am

  22. 3. Rising Farm Productivity Restores Cropland to Forest

    A new report belies the view that the United States has to a large extent felled its forests for farmland and paved them over for towns and cities.

    The surprising fact is that forests today cover about 72 percent of the area that was forested way back in 1630 — 10 years after the landing of the Mayflower.

    That is because farm productivity has improved to the extent that American farmers can now produce far more food on far less land, allowing land previously used for crops to return to forest, according to a report from Ronald Bailey, a science correspondent for Reason magazine.

    From about 1850 until 1910, the demand for wood as fuel led to the rapid clearing of American forests. But in the 20th century the extent of U.S. forests stabilized, and it began increasing in the second half of the century.

    This was spurred by revolutions in farming, including the advances made by plant breeder and 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug and his colleagues, who created new high-yield varieties of rice and wheat.

    U.S. corn production grew 17-fold between 1860 and 2010, yet more land was planted in corn in 1925 than in 2010.

    American farmers currently average about 180 bushels of corn per acre, more than twice the world average of 82 bushels.

    But farmers in other countries have been making great strides as well. In 1960, India’s population stood at 450 million, and Indians farmed 161 million hectares (400 million acres). By 2010, India’s population had risen by more than two and a half times, but the amounted of land devoted to crops rose only about 5 percent, according to Bailey, who cites findings from the Population and Development Review.

    Farmers around the world can now produce about three times as much food as they did in 1960 on the same amount of land.

    Bailey points to the estimate that if global crop yields had remained at their 1960 levels, farmers would have needed about 3 billion more hectares to plant crops — an area equal to almost twice the size of South America. Source: Newsmax

    April 7, 2013 at 7:45 am

  23. inre: archived articles

    Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

    July 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm

  24. Michael Pollan Promotes ‘Denialist’ Anti-GMO Junk Science, Says He Manipulates New York Times’ Editors

    “On Monday, an organization known as the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), issued a statement declaring, there is “No scientific consensus on GMO safety.” To those familiar with the science of GMOs and the safety testing record, the full statement reads like farce. It has 93 signators, not one considered a mainstream scientist—a ‘Who’s Who’ of anti-biotechnology campaigners.

    A recent paper by independent Italian scientists noted there have been 1783 studies on safety and health issues related to GMOs over the last ten years alone, including many publicly funded studies, confirming the safety of GMOs. The literal avalanche of GMO safety studies, short term and long, have prompted more than 100 of the world’s independent science bodies to conclude that foods made from genetically modified crops are as safe or safer than conventional or organic varieties.

    So who is behind this bizarre declaration? ENSSER, for those not familiar with it, is an organization with a mission. Its members believe—this is faith and not science—that the debate over GMOs is over, that the technology is harmful and should be banned or restricted out of existence. Its members are among the most high profile anti-GMO activists in Europe. Remember the pictures of rats supposedly twisted into cancerous monsters after eating GMO corn that were blasted across cyberspace and onto ‘laugh-out-loud’ pop shows like Dr. Oz? The rats were props for humans, according to the notorious 2012 Gilles-Erich Séralini study that stands as one of the most discredited experiments in scientific history. Séralini is a signee of this statement, along with co-author Nicolas Defarge, who is ENSSER’s Deputy Chairman.”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2013/10/24/michael-pollan-promotes-denialist-anti-gmo-junk-science-brags-he-manipulates-new-york-times-editors/

    November 3, 2013 at 8:01 pm

  25. @Zeke; Borlaug now has a statue in DC.

    A statue of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug during its unveiling in National Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington.
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/03/25/norman-borlaug-statue-unveiled-at-us-capitol/?intcmp=obinsite 8-) pg

    March 28, 2014 at 11:06 am

  26. “It will be awfully nice to have a miracle worker around here,” House Speaker John Boehner joked at Tuesday’s ceremony.
    “He combined a brilliant vision and, most importantly, Iowa common sense,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

    Agreed! Thanks pg, it is always nice to see him honored and remembered. I first heard of him when he passed away. I just got a book about his inspiring professor, EC Stakman. Now there is a brilliant and determined man, who changed history.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvin_C._Stakman

    March 29, 2014 at 11:34 am

  27. This is funny.

    Glyphosate and AMPA inhibit cancer cell growth through inhibiting intracellular glycine synthesis.
    Li Q1, Lambrechts MJ, Zhang Q, Liu S, Ge D, Yin R, Xi M, You Z.
    Author information
    Abstract

    Glycine is a nonessential amino acid that is reversibly converted from serine intracellularly by serine hydroxymethyltransferase. Glyphosate and its degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), are analogs to glycine, thus they may inhibit serine hydroxymethyltransferase to decrease intracellular glycine synthesis. In this study, we found that glyphosate and AMPA inhibited cell growth in eight human cancer cell lines but not in two immortalized human normal prostatic epithelial cell lines. AMPA arrested C4-2B and PC-3 cancer cells in the G1/G0 phase and inhibited entry into the S phase of the cell cycle. AMPA also promoted apoptosis in C4-2B and PC-3 cancer cell lines. AMPA upregulated p53 and p21 protein levels as well as procaspase 9 protein levels in C4-2B cells, whereas it downregulated cyclin D3 protein levels. AMPA also activated caspase 3 and induced cleavage of poly (adenosine diphosphate [ADP]-ribose) polymerase. This study provides the first evidence that glyphosate and AMPA can inhibit proliferation and promote apoptosis of cancer cells but not normal cells, suggesting that they have potentials to be developed into a new anticancer therapy.
    KEYWORDS:

    apoptosis; prostate cancer; serine hydroxymethyltransferase

    PMID:
    23983455
    [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
    PMCID:
    PMC3749059

    Free PMC Article

    October 27, 2014 at 2:19 pm

  28. Plant breeding genetics – mutation through exposure to radiation
    http://www-naweb.iaea.org/nafa/pbg/index.html

    This is allowable under organic growing standards.

    October 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm

  29. “Mammary cancer is a common cause of tumors in rats and mice and can occur in both males and females. The prevalence of tumors varies with the strain of animal. In some mouse strains, 70% develop mammary tumors. In mice, mammary tumors are also associated with the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV), which predisposes a mouse to develop mammary cancer. One strain of this virus is termed the “Bittner agent.””

    Another example of cancer caused by viruses.

    March 2, 2017 at 11:02 pm

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