Food & Agriculture

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

Walking past the ancient Roman Coliseum on my way to the recent International Symposium on Agroecology, the surprising twists of history were on my mind. Even a few years ago, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization — host of the symposium — would never have organized such a meeting. “Agroecology” was considered far too radical and dangerous a concept to many in FAO who had dedicated long careers to exporting the chemical-intensive “Green Revolution” model of agriculture around the world.

Yet there I was, along with 400 other scientists, agri-food system researchers, farmers and social movement leaders, commencing an intensive 2-day exchange of agroecological knowledge, science and practice in the heart of Rome.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

One morning a few weeks ago, I received an email from the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council (NRC), announcing the makeup of a provisional committee of experts that has been tasked with carrying out a comprehensive new study of GE crops. This study is supposed to assess the history of GE crops around the world, the diverse experiences of farmers in different countries and a wide range of “purported” negative and positive impacts of GE seeds and their associated technologies (for example, pesticides).

Done right, this could be an illuminating investigation, right? But as I looked over the bios provided on NRC’s webpage, I quickly realized that the Council appears to have a pretty poor idea of how to carry out such a challenging, complex and multi-faceted study. In fact, this week 67 scientists and researchers publicly rebuked the NRC for failing, right at the outset, to put together a slate of experts equipped for the task (full letter here).

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Last week, PAN UK released a report on pesticide residues in bread, analyzing government data over a 13-year time span. The report highlights extensive pesticide residues in some foods — including two-thirds of all bread products — and the ways in which food residue trends have shifted over time.

Pesticide residues have been in our food as long as we’ve been using pesticides. So it's not surprising (although still disturbing) that residues have significantly increased over the past decade. PAN UK’s analysis indicates that pesticide residues in bread alone have more than doubled from 28% in 2001 to 63% in 2013; and the number of samples testing positive for multiple residues have also more than doubled in the last seven years.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

Crazy weather we’ve been having this winter: monster snowstorms across New England, record-breaking freezes in the Midwest, drought, wildfires (in January!) and weirdly hot days in California. For many farmers across the country and around the world, all this extreme weather — on top of ever-intensifying environmental and economic stresses — is pushing them to their edge.

At the same time, a growing number of farmers and scientists are realizing that 1) continued reliance on the energy, water and chemical-intensive industrial model of agriculture is simply no longer an option and 2) our most robust response to today’s converging stresses lies in cultivating resilience and food democracy.

Celine Nadeau