Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Babe Ruth of Soy Beans and a Story of Competitve Corn Growing

I've been meaning to put this Wired Magazine article up for over a month.

Here is a great story talking about real industrialized commercial agriculture. Its rare that you get a lay person's article about mono-culture agriculture and what they are wrestling with. The perspective touched on here is one worth reading.

Especially looking at the every expanding productivity of US soil, seeds, chemicals, manpower and on the ground intellect that is our mainstream agriculture.

One excerpt that really gets to the heart of the new development of GMO crops that caught my eye is below.

Cullers never went to college, but he rises at 3:30 each morning to study plant genetics online. Right now, he's urging Pioneer to genetically weave a bit of stiffening fiber into soybean stalks. Cullers plants 300,000 soybeans per acre, double the national average. In these super-dense fields, he explains, soy plants grow taller, fighting for sunlight. "They fall down a lot," he says, "and you lose photosynthesis. The trifoliates don't pump nutrients to the beans. And you get disease, too. It's crowded and humid out there, down low."

Something about it reminds me more about the development of a race car with experience in the Pit rather than the further development of an agricultural crop. This is obviously engineering with a specificity reserved up till now for mechanical systems not organisms.

NOTE: To those who are adamant and hostile to GMO. I understand, I've seen and read both sides of this debate in depth for years. Being on the sidelines and outside of the issue I am an agricultural agnostic. I do buy certified organic and local food as a rule as well. Please don't flame me just because I gave ink to what I view as a relevant article.

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