View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news

Indian mango juice - agri-tech branding


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Attitudes to technology – cultural differences revealed by my mango juice

On my recent trip to India I was told, quite rightly, that the mango juice was delicious. The bottle also turned out to be enlightening, and revealed a difference in attitude across the continents.

I was disappointed, though not surprised, to see that the juice was a product of Coca-Cola – the global power of soft drinks companies is clear to see. What did surprise me was the note about new technologies increasing yield: Continue reading


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What if we don’t grow more food?

The figures vary, but predictions about how much food we will need to produce in the future show an increase. This is largely due to population growth and changing diets. We won’t just have more people to feed, we will have more middle class people to feed. People tend to eat more meat and dairy products when they have more money at their disposal. If we feed crops to cows not people, we need to grow more crops.

But what happens if food production doesn’t increase? Do wealthy people have to go without meat, or do poorer people have to go without food?  Continue reading

GM maize - Rebecca Nesbit


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The nitrogen fix

We rely on high yields to feed a population of 7 billion, and these are made possible by our ability to create an ideal environment for the crop. Ironically, the methods used to do this can create conditions which are increasingly unsuitable for growing crops in.

To combat drought we add water, causing problems such as water shortages and soil salinisation. To ensure that a crop’s nutritional needs are met we add fertilisers containing nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Continue reading


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The ‘productionist’ outlook

I had an amazing time in Stockholm at the 2016 Nobel Week Dialogue, and it has left me with many things to ponder about food production and consumption.

Food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart spoke out against the ‘productionist’ outlook, questioning whether producing more food will solve our problems. We already produce enough food to feed the world’s population, yet still people go hungry.  Continue reading


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New Scientist vs Soil Association – this week’s organic spat

New Scientist’s recent article ‘Stop buying organic food if you really want to save the planet‘ inevitably caused a stir, and the Soil Association fought back with the accusation of ‘unscientific’. As the title suggests, there were some sweeping statements from New Scientist. The Soil Association’s response also had some bold claims, so I’m taking the opportunity to comment on a few of the claims from both sides and point out some logical flaws. Continue reading