The New York Times: Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops

LONDON — The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat.

But an extensive examination by The New York Times indicates that the debate has missed a more basic problem — genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides.

The promise of genetic modification was twofold: By making crops immune to the effects of weedkillers and inherently resistant to many pests, they would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world’s growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides.

Twenty years ago, Europe largely rejected genetic modification at the same time the United States and Canada were embracing it. Comparing results on the two continents, using independent data as well as academic and industry research, shows how the technology has fallen short of the promise. read on

Agroecological Research: Conforming—or Transforming the Dominant Agro-Food Regime?

Agroecology has three practical forms—a scientific discipline, an agricultural practice, and a social movement. Their integration has provided a collective-action mode for contesting the dominant agro-food regime and creating alternatives, especially through a linkage with food sovereignty. Agroecology can play different roles—either conforming to the dominant regime, or else helping to transform it—contingent on specific empowerment strategies. Tensions between “conform versus transform” roles can be identified in European agroecological research, especially in three areas: farm-level agroecosystems development; participatory plant breeding; and short food-supply chains remunerating agroecological methods. To play a transformative role, collaborative strategies need to go beyond the linear stereotype whereby scientists “transfer” technology or farmers “apply” scientific research results. To the extent that farmer–scientist alliances co-create and exchange knowledge, such gains can transform the research system.

Les Levidow, Michel Pimbert & Gaetan Vanloqueren

Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

Article in The Handbook of Genetics & Society