The scoop: There is an understandable skepticism around GMOs due to our bias for natural products. But GMOs have many undeniable social and environmental benefits.
What to know: The science agrees with the use of GMOs – 90% of scientists believe they are safe.
- GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. It is the process of selectively breeding plants with other genes to create desirable characteristics.
- GMO characteristics have the potential to address food security with projects like Golden Rice.
- GMOs can also help reduce food waste and help growers adapt to climate change with drought, heat, or flood tolerant seed varieties.
- While GMOs are often negatively associated with health and sustainability, there is little to no science to support this claim.
- There is overwhelmingly more research that supports GMO's ability to positively influence health and sustainability.
Bottom line: GMOs have become somewhat of a controversy, but the scientific consensus shows they are safe. In the face of a growing population and increased land use, we need a more efficient agriculture industry to be sustainable. GMOs are at the core of a more sustainable future, and more efficient food systems.
Dig deeper → 3 min
What is vertical farming? Indoor agriculture (like greenhouses) using vertical space to optimize crop production in a controlled environment
- Minimized pests and pesticides
- Greater precision and control over water and nutrients, less waste
- More food produced per acre of land, more sustainable for our planet in the long run
- Reduced distribution supply chains delivering fresher produce to customers at greater speed
- Higher costs
- Deep know-how and expertise required
- Limited number of crops can be grown profitably (leafy greens vs. strawberries that require more sunlight and thus more electricity)
Why vertical farming? The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted food supply chains around the world. The shift to remote work increased office space vacancies... creating an opportunity to redesign spaces. Now is a good time to rethink ways to feed a growing population, especially in urban cities. We need to better adapt to supply and demand shocks.
A touch on Big Tech Algorithmic or machine-learning solutions are applied to the biggest challenge in agriculture: optimization. Artificial intelligence (AI) helps minimize food waste by figuring out the right amount of energy, water, and nutrients required to produce food.
Bottom line With increased pressure on supply chains around the globe, rethinking traditional farming and redirecting efforts toward vertical farming (and AI) will address food security challenges and reduce waste in the future.
Dig deeper → 4 min
The scoop With increased pressure on supply chains from COVID-19, food systems are seeing a shift toward local-purchasing. For environmental purposes, maintaining local food supplies post-pandemic will be crucial.
Support farmers markets, food hubs, and community-supported agriculture. Ride the wave toward more resilient and sustainable food systems.
Things to know
- Large-scale and complex food systems buckled under the unpredictability and immeasurable pressures of a global pandemic
- Millions of pounds of food products lost across the US
- Grocery stores are dealing with food shortages
- Consumers are shifting to purchasing locally and local farmers face an increased demand for local food
- We need resilient and sustainable food systems even after the pandemic
- How to support local and shop small:
- Farmers’ Markets
- Community Supported Agriculture Programs
- Food Hubs
Bottom line Eating local should not be expensive or exclusive. You can buy local food based on what fits your schedule and budget. Sustainable and local food systems rely on consumer behavior.
There is no doubt a major increase in local purchasing during COVID. However, reaching sustainable development goals and building resiliency in food systems requires your action to support local farmers. Buy local.
Dig deeper → 5 min
The scoop Pesticides promote large-scale agriculture, yet damage environmental and human health…
Risks for humans
- At least 200,000 deaths each year.
- Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases
- Hormone disruption, developmental disorders, sterility
- Loss of: memory, motor skills, vision and coordination
- Asthma, allergies, hypersensitivity
Environmental risks Traces of pesticides are found in the air, soil, and water (thus spreading far and harming wildlife including: pollinators, amphibians, birds, fish, and invertebrates). Bee colony collapse and reproductive issues are highly concerning.
What can be done? A “systemic denial fueled by the pesticide and agroindustry” keep pesticides on the market. Luckily, the UN proposes international guidelines on regulating pesticides, while promoting agroecology: a practice which combines science and local knowledge to create community-based, agricultural systems.
The UN finds that Agroecology can “feed the entire world population and ensure that they are adequately nourished.” Using agroecology, the world could be fed, and we could drop the risks that pesticides inflict!
What can I do?
- Research your local Congressman’s stance on Pesticide Bans. Vote!
- Grow a garden. You’ll help pollinators and enjoy pesticide-free produce.
- Helpful resources…
- Watch Neonicotinoids: The New DDT? free
- Watch: Circle of Poison
- Read Silent Spring
Dig deeper → 3 min