June 5, 2008

Tomorrow's Table

There's an interview in US News & World Report with the authors of a new book entitled Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food that advocates precisely what the title implies - a marriage of sustainable, organic farming techniques and genetically modified seed crops as a way forward in the food crisis.  GMO's have been a commonly played card in the last few months as various talking heads have offered their three or four bullet points as to what can be done to alleviate the crisis, but they have usually been advocated within the context of "conventional" agriculture-as-usual, or agriculture-as-usual on steroids - i.e., heavily dependent upon chemical inputs and fossil fuel reliant transportion and fertilizers.  I've got Tomorrow's Table on loan request at the local library (the dual constraints of my bank account and book shelf space limit purchases these days) so I haven't read it yet to see how it plays out, but the new element presented here is the combination of GMO's with organic methods that skew away from "conventional" methods.  This combination gets closer to the creative thinking and third-way that I've been looking for in strategies for the future of global agriculture.  In theory this could combine the best of both worlds - the recognition of the environmental limiting factors embodied in organics and the advances in scientific research embodied in GMO seeds.  The hitch here, of course, is getting both sides to make the necessary concessions needed to make this work on the ground (organic standards, for example, don't allow for GMO's) in order to improve the way we feed the world.  I'm interested to see if the authors offer any suggestions in this regard - the fact that they are a wife and husband team, she a researcher at UC Davis and he an organic farmer means that they have probably talked this over more than a few times at the dinner table.  My guess is that this "hybrid" idea has a chance of gaining traction in developing countries faster than it does in America or the EU where the limiting factors are still currently seen as less limiting and the incentives are lower for either side to concede ground.  

1 comment:

pamela ronald said...

Thanks for the nice pre-review of our book! I hope you enjoy the book and do find what you are looking for here.

Blog Archive