… in the truest sense of the word. This Ensia article is about a married couple whose relationship is all about sustainable agriculture – one of them is a plant geneticist and the other a farmer that leads UC Davis’ student organic farm. Now they have written a book together on how their individual disciplines can meet to bring about the ‘future of food’ – they argue that there is much middle ground on which genetically modified crops can meet organic production methods to bring about a more sustainable food system. According to Raoul Adamchak, “the common ground was obvious to us. It isn’t very difficult if you look at the overall goal of sustainable agriculture … and say, ‘What’s the best way to get there?’ It was relatively easy for us to say, ‘We should use the best technology and the best farming practices possible.’ That seems to us a perfectly reasonable way of achieving the most sustainable agriculture possible.”
One of their main arguments is that it’s impossible to make general statements about genetic engineering, because the practices, scientists and traits are different in each circumstance. A technology that might lead to adverse consequences if misused – such as the production of superweeds through the overuse of Roundup – could in a different scenario prevent whole populations from starving after a flood, as is the case of Pamela Ronald’s research in flood-tolerant rice varieties. It’s all about the right mix, they say –
“In Tomorrow’s Table, the two argue that any technology or farming practice is appropriate as long as it produces abundant, safe and nutritious food; reduces harmful environmental inputs; provides healthful conditions for farm workers; protects the genetic make-up of native species; enhances crop genetic diversity; fosters soil fertility; improves the lives of the poor and malnourished; and maintains the economic viability of farmers and rural communities.”
That is sort of where I stand on the whole GMO issue as well; the fact that it’s currently being appropriated by private companies and most definitely not used respecting genetic biodiversity and farmers’ rights to save seeds has nothing to do with the technology of genetic engineering itself and everything with the current use of it. And I wouldn’t want to venture excluding a potentially beneficial technique to bring about food security from our tool kit – if it is indeed used responsibly.
What are your thoughts? Isn’t this also just the cutest couple?