Technology

Commodity Agriculture’s Dark “Green” Future

A generation ago, GMO sounded like the name of an American muscle car, a text was what the preacher based his Sunday sermon on, and Facebook was two words that meant face and book.
Now, 25 short years later, genetically modified seeds dominate American agriculture, texting has replaced baseball as our national pastime, and Facebook’s market […]

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The Stupidly Expensive Non-Broadband Blues

Twelve years ago this month, the lovely Catherine and I moved from a three-story, oak-lined Victorian house in town to a modern, all-brick home in an unincorporated, rural community six miles north.
The mid-life migration delivered a quieter, safer life of no ladders, no roofing, and no painting.
The move also traded our faultless, $50 per month […]

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Grocery Getter

When Jeff Bezos, the founder, chairman, and CEO of giant online retailer Amazon.com, Inc., paid $250 million for the money-losing Washington Post in 2013, market analysts downplayed the purchase as little more than a bored techie billionaire using pocket change to buy a hobby.
They were wrong. Bezos buys businesses, not hobbies.
By 2015, the Post had […]

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Ag’s Greatest Innovation

In my youth, May brought two noticeable changes to the big Lutheran church my family faithfully attended. The first was heat. No building on earth better held daytime heat from Mother’s Day through Reformation Day than that century-old house of worship.
The second was the season’s short-sleeved parade of lost limbs, a brutal testament to the […]

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Burning Down the Barn

If the prospect of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as president scares you, put down the television remote and pick up “Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity,” a new report from the United Nations Environmental Program. It makes the dour debaters look positively sunny.
OK, sure, the report’s title suggests it will be as dull […]

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We Should Talk

With little fanfare and barely a nod of public acknowledgement, the world of food turned upside down April 13 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture informed a Penn State University plant pathologist that the “white button mushroom” he developed by removing some of its genetic material is not a genetically modified organism (GMO).
As such, USDA […]

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Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

What most American voters don’t know about plate tectonics would kill a bull. Still, something deep in the North American continent and the American consciousness has shifted to alter our adopted land and its political landscape.
For example, the Ides of March brought both the 2,060th anniversary of Caesar’s assassination in the Roman Forum and swaying-in-the-wind, […]

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China Sees Woe, U.S. Ag Sees Red

The fireworks-filled, holiday celebration that is the Chinese New Year doesn’t begin until Feb. 8. Three weeks into calendar year 2016, however, key elements in China’s economy—its wildly speculative stock markets, less-than-transparent currency, sagging heavy industries—have gone boom.
That weakness is already being felt in U.S. farm and ranch country. Rural America, after all, is China’s […]

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CRISPR’s Children

About the only one ever happy to see a mosquito is a hungry purple martin, the acrobatic swallow that dines on the bothersome insects morning, noon, and night. You and me, however, would be perfectly happy never to see another mosquito for the rest of our lives.
Science can now make that happen.
A powerful new gene-editing […]

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Never Heard of CRISPR? You will.

Few sectors of the global economy are more hooked on gene modification technology than agriculture. Food powerhouses like the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina now grow genetically modified (GM) crops on 40, 23, and 13 percent, respectively, of their arable land and one in five farmable acres around the world grows GM crops.
Adoption of GM seeds […]

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