Tag Archives: agriculture

The Past, Present, and Future of Genetically Modified Organisms

By Rachel Hull

Author’s note

When I began my research for this piece, I was primarily interested in the controversy over the fairly new bill in the United States requiring labels on foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Little did I know that as I was gathering my sources, a new GMO dispute would emerge, this one revolving around bioengineered non-browning apples. Thus I switched my focus from the bill to the arrival of these apples to stores across the U.S. — an arrival that means an investigation into the history and science behind genetically engineered food products is even timelier than I originally thought.

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Grass-fed or grain-fed?

By Jenny Cade, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology ’15

Eating grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken is the eco-friendly thing to do–right? Maybe not, according to a recent paper published in the Proceedings in the National Academy of Science. The study proposes that intensifying livestock production by transitioning from pure grazing to mixed systems–where animals are fed high-energy food like grains–could reduce livestock greenhouse gas emissions by 23% by 2030. Currently, livestock account for 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, so such a reduction would be significant.

In contrast, a comment piece that appeared in Nature last month calls for increasing grazing to make livestock systems more sustainable. Of eight strategies that the authors outline to reduce the environmental and economic costs of raising livestock, “Feed animals less human food” is number one.

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