What the agrichemical industry is selling, we ain’t buying

Today, six chemical companies control 63% of the seed market, and their combined R&D budgets are 15 times higher than all U.S. public spending on agricultural research. And with recently announced efforts to merge it’s about to get worse.

What the agrichemical industry is selling, we ain’t buying. Learn more at seedmatters.org and sign our letter for change. #SeedMatters

The Surprising Healing Qualities … of Dirt

The Surprising Healing Qualities ... of Dirt
More at Yes! magazine..

The scientists investigating this soil-health connection are a varied bunch—botanists, agronomists, ecologists, geneticists, immunologists, microbiologists—and collectively they are giving us new reasons to care about the places where our food is grown.

For example, using DNA sequencing technology, agronomists at Washington State University have recently established that soil teeming with a wide diversity of life (especially bacteria, fungi, and nematodes) is more likely to produce nutrient-dense food. Of course, this makes sense when you understand that it is the cooperation between bacteria, fungi, and plants’ roots (collectively referred to as the rhizosphere) that is responsible for transferring carbon and nutrients from the soil to the plant—and eventually to our plates.

Given this nutrient flow from soil microbes to us, how can we boost and diversify life in the soil? Studies consistently show that ecological farming consistently produces a greater microbial biomass and diversity than conventional farming. Ecological farming (or eco-farming, as my farmer friends call it) includes many systems (biodynamic, regenerative, permaculture, full-cycle, etc.) that share core holistic tenets: protecting topsoil with cover crops and minimal plowing, rotating crops, conserving water, limiting the use of chemicals (synthetic or natural), and recycling all animal and vegetable waste back into the land. Much of this research supports what traditional farmers around the world have long known to be true: the more ecologically we farm, the more nutrients we harvest.

Read the rest at Yes! magazine

God’s Red Pencil? CRISPR and The Three Myths of Precise Genome Editing

CRISPR/cas9
Read the rest of this article at Independent Science News

For the benefit of those parts of the world where public acceptance of biotechnology is incomplete, a public relations blitz is at full tilt. It concerns an emerging set of methods for altering the DNA of living organisms. “Easy DNA Editing Will Remake the World. Buckle Up; “We Have the Technology to Destroy All Zika Mosquitoes“; and “CRISPR: gene editing is just the beginning”. (CRISPR is short for CRISPR/cas9, which is short for Clustered Regularly-Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR associated protein 9; Jinek et al., 2012. It is a combination of a guide RNA and a protein that can cut DNA.)

The hubris is alarming; but the more subtle element of the propaganda campaign is the biggest and most dangerous improbability of them all: that CRISPR and related technologies are “genome editing” (Fichtner et al., 2014). That is, they are capable of creating precise, accurate and specific alterations to DNA.

Douglas Gurian-Sherman, with the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit group that has campaigned against genetically engineered crops, says the lack of formal regulatory review of gene-edited crops is disturbing. For one thing, it makes it difficult to know exactly what’s been done to the crop. “The company can just keep its data to itself,” he says.

The issues of CRISPR and other related new “genome editing” biotechnologies are the subject of intense activity behind the scenes. The US Department of Agriculture has just explained that it will not be regulating organisms whose genomes have been edited since it doesn’t consider them to be GMOs at all. The EU was about to call them GMOs but the US has caused them to blink, meanwhile the US is in the process of revisiting its GMO regulatory environment entirely. Will future safety regulations of GMOs be based on a schoolboy version of genetics and an interpretation of genome editing crafted in a corporate public relations department? If history is any guide it will.

Perfect Poached Eggs

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

The perfect poached egg. Tender whites around a warm liquid yolk that oozes out like liquid gold when you cut into it. They’re an essential part of Eggs Benedict, they can turn any salad into a meal, or any vegetable into brunch.

The problem is, they’re really tough to make right. So you’ve probably read all the tricks and know all the secrets: Add vinegar to your water. Add salt to your water. Don’t add salt to your water. Stir a vortex into the water. Wrap your eggs in plastic wrap. And guess what? None of them really work.

There IS one method that works every single time, and all it requires are two things.

The first is: a really fresh egg. Fresh eggs have tighter whites and yolks that help them retain their shape better as they cook.

The second tool you need is a fine mesh strainer..

Directions:

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer, then reduce heat until it is barely quivering. It should register 180 to 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. Carefully break 1 egg into a small bowl, then tip into a fine mesh strainer. Carefully swirl egg around strainer, using your finger to rub off any excess loose egg whites that drop through. Gently tip egg into water. Swirl gently with a wooden spoon for 10 seconds, just until egg begins to set. Repeat straining and tipping with remaining eggs. Cook, swirling occasionally, until egg whites are fully set but yolks are still soft, about 4 minutes.

2. Carefully lift eggs from pot with a slotted spoon. Serve immediately, or transfer to a bowl of cold water and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To serve, transfer to a bowl of hot water and let reheat for 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Hanoi-Style Breakfast Phở

 

Long-time Iowa farm cartoonist fired after creating this cartoon

Rick Friday cartoonFORT DODGE, Iowa —Rick Friday has been giving farmers a voice and a laugh every Friday for two decades through his cartoons in Farm News.

Now the long-time Iowa farm cartoonist tells KCCI that he has been fired.

Friday announced Sunday that his job was over after 21 years in a Facebook post that has since gone viral.