Category Archives: genetic modification

In the Bigger Picture….

9 Recommended Agricultural Links ○ ○ ○

Note: Wednesday Editions of “In the Bigger Picture” tend to focus more on general and business information about agriculture.–K.M.


1 . TREND SPOTTING: More and more, institutional investors are owning farmland and its production. Sectors such as almonds, livestock, corn, soybeans, ethanol, and greenhouses are all increasingly owned by institutions. This article is but one of many revealing this trend, and I fully expect this trend to continue.

by Imogen Rose-Smith for Institutional Investor


Today, there are 3 links related to ETHANOL which, as usual, is facing new challenges both in Congress and economically.

2a . ETHANOL EXPORTS: Strategies are being developed to gain ethanol export markets to deal with corn surpluses. $500,000 has been budgeted for export market development in 2015. For example, Peru is being approached because its sugarcane-based ethanol’s low-carbon rating is attracting European buyers, and that spells opportunity for Peru to import ethanol from the U.S. As you can see, this is not an efficiency contest.

By Susanne Retka Schill for Ethanol Producer

2b . 20% TAX BREAK FOR ETHANOL EXPORTERS: U.S. ethanol exports have gone up 47% in four years. It helps that a 20% tax break is available to qualified exporters.

By Donna Funk for Ethanol Producer

2c . 28% CANADIAN CORN TO ETHANOL: Canada is one of the U.S.’s ethanol importers, although it burns 3.25 MT of its own corn [out of 11.5 MT, or 28%] and 1 MT of its wheat [out of 25 MT, or 4%] in its own domestic ethanol production program. (Percentages are according to my own calculations.—KM)

By Erin Voegele for Ethanol Producer


3 . Don’t miss this global NOAA temperature map which shows the remarkable omission of warmer temps in the corn belt region of the U.S. for 2014.

By Michael Roberts for Greed, Green & Grains


Today’s links include 2 on FARMLAND prices and rents.

4a . The annual Iowa farmland survey results are posted here accompanied by two great charts. It concludes that the third golden era of Iowa land prices is ending with an “orderly adjustment”.

By Michael D. Duffy at Iowa State

4b . Farmland rents could fall by one-third.

from Agrimoney


5 . INPUT COSTS/PROFIT MARGINS: This farmer offers first-hand data (in charts) which compares GM versus non-GM corn and soybean profits, as well as her explanation for why their farm discontinued organic corn production.

By Jennie Schmidt for The Foodie Farmer


6 . HUMOR: What is a GMO?

4 Minutes on Youtube


These links were selected by Kay McDonald. For continually updated news about agriculture, please utilize the news feeds on the right sidebar here, and on the “Latest Ag News” tab above.

In the Bigger Picture…. Friday Edition

6 Recommended Agricultural Links ○ ○ ○


1 . The world has been hoping for a breakthrough in antibiotic science, and now it seems one has emerged from the vast microbial world in soil. Perhaps this is just the start, as some have referred to soil as the next frontier.

By James Gallagher, BBC News


2 . Here’s a great investment you probably never thought of. It’s called a tractor, and auctions of late have been remarkable.

By Greg Peterson for Agweb


3 . A twenty year study shows a disturbingly strong relationship between pesticide exposure and depression.

By John Crabtree for Center of Rural Affairs


4 . Whatever your views are on organic versus industrial farming and genetic modification, this article challenges prevailing thinking in many ways.

By Henry I. Miller for Forbes


5 . The revolving door: Days after former Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns, left the Senate, he landed on the board of Deere Corporation.

By Joseph Morton of the World-Herald Bureau


6 . Though some of us might heartily agree, Tom Vilsack was joking when he told a rural Midwestern audience recently that “If my parents were alive today and knew I was the Secretary of Agriculture they would think that there was something seriously wrong with the country.” (!!!) An Iowa lawyer is indeed best qualified to be Secretary of Agriculture in today’s system which is largely about lobbying and politics.

by Amy Mayer, Harvest Public Media


These links were selected by Kay McDonald. For continually updated news about agriculture, please utilize the news feeds on the right sidebar here, and on the “Latest Ag News” tab above.

PBS Video Explains Biohacking / Synthetic Biology

This PBS Newshour video will help bring you up to speed on the subject of biohacking. If your world is mundane, or if you don’t have enough to worry about, I recommend watching it.

You see, private and university labs students are messing with biology. The term is called biohacking. The formal term for biohacking is synthetic biology. They are using labs for projects such as making batteries by using algae. Students are encouraged to follow their curiosity. One entreupeneur is working on a vegan cheese project. Some are using mushrooms to make recyclable building material. Some projects have a “benign” feeling about them, others feel more worrisome.

What started as a fringe science has now become mainstream. The curious are trying to figure out how to partner with life to make the things we need. Projects are going on in “make-shift” labs and garages. The people doing these projects believe that they are in the early stages of a revolution and like to compare what they are doing to the days of early computer designing. They believe that the natural world provides models for man that can teach us to be more productive and creative.

One project is working to make glowing plants by adding DNA from squid. This group has raised a half a million dollars online to help them continue their work. So far the light cast from the experimental plants is dim, but the team expects to make them far brighter after more manipulation.

It’s as easy as using an ink jet printer to produce biological results. Maybe someday body parts can be printed. The sky is the limit for the “bio-curious”.

Others cry caution. Unregulated biology poses large unknown dangers, according to many critics. Is the technology ahead of the sanity? Do the people doing this experimental work know or understand what they are doing and what the unintended consequences might be? Is life sacrosanct? What are the right-ethics?