Preserve natural resources and biodiversity Support animal health and welfare

Preserve natural resources and biodiversity Support animal health and welfare

Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors Only use approved materials Do not use genetically modified ingredients Receive annual onsite inspections […]

If you’ve never seen History of the World Part 1, then this is lost on you.

Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
Support animal health and welfare
Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
Only use approved materials
Do not use genetically modified ingredients
Receive annual onsite inspections
Separate organic food from non-organic food

Those are the basic commandments of organic food and fiber production as set down by the USDA. It may seem like that list should be a little more detailed, perhaps. A little more in depth. BUT, as George Carlin famously whittled down the 10 commandments to 2, I think that list should also be taken to the chopping block. My first objection to this is list: it makes it seem as if conventional agricultural doesn’t practice or adhere to any of the above (more on that later). SO! Let’s get to trimming.

Commandment 1: Preserve natural resources and biodiversity. This seems rather a subjective guideline. I searched the terms and definitions list and couldn’t find much help for what they mean here. Natural resources are defined as the physical, hydrological, and biological features of a production operation, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. Ok. So… how much preservation are we talking here? Organic farming requires more land to equal conventional production, especially in vegetable and grain production. In effect, that would destroy more natural habitats due to land clearance, lowering biodiversity and increasing water usage. There are stipulations about crop rotation, cover crops and prevented soil erosion, but none of those are unique to organic. Still, I’ll let this commandment stand on its own, if nothing else because it’s a noble idea.

Commandments 2 & 3: Support animal health and welfare / provide access to outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors. Rule 3 seems more like a subset of rule two. It’s under the same umbrella principle of treating your animals well, so we can combine those two into one. But then, what is a natural behavior? Is it natural for animals to be fenced in? I don’t believe so. For instance, a cow’s natural behavior would be to graze and roam (potentially into the bean patch or alfalfa field). I realize this is nit-picky, but I don’t really care if my chicken was allowed to roam or if it was kept indoors. I want my food to be cost effective and nutritious (which conventional practices are quite good at producing). I am more concerned about the welfare of people than I am the welfare of my food. Farmers spend countless hours caring for their livestock. This doesn’t need to be a stipulation.

Commandments 4 & 5: only use approved materials / do not use genetically modified ingredients. Didn’t we just cover this same issue? Rules 4 and 5 can easily be rolled up into the same pile of b.s. The list of approved and unapproved materials is laughable. “A synthetically produced, chemically organic fungicide, Captan, is declared not ‘organic,’ but the synthetically produced, chemically inorganic fungicide copper sulfate is declared ‘organic.’” (Read the rest of the entertaining Random Rationality post here). As for what a genetically modified ingredient is, the site lacks a definition that I could find. No matter, because whatever crop the farmers are planting has been genetically modified at one point or another through its own genetic mutation, cross breeding and pollination, etc. Why would a plant be more likely to cause cancer because its genetic sequence was manipulated in a controlled, lab environment? Genetically modified organisms make food more abundant, nutritious, affordable, more environmentally friendly because of fewer chemicals needed, improve water conservation and even decrease medical costs. It seems like a lack of respect for human intellect and ingenuity. I digress. Onward.

Commandment 6: receive annual on site inspections. Fine. Maybe I’m getting lazy, but this one can stand alone.

Commandment 7: Separate organic food from non organic food. Please do. I am in full support of this. If I eat some produce that isn’t organic, there is a

likelihood I could die, or at the least I’ll experience some serious digestive issues. All food is carbon based (minerals and vitamins don’t count as food). That is what organic means. “Organic food” is a hollow term. As the link/list for approved and unapproved materials shows anyway, organic food is still grown using synthetic (often more environmentally and physically hazardous than conventional) chemicals.

So there we go. We took a list of 7 and smashed it down to 3. Commandments 2 and 3 get combined along with commandments 4 and 5 getting combined. Commandments 1 and 7 get axed completely.

Listen, I do believe there is a place for organic agricultural practices. There are benefits and diversified methods are needed for overall agricultural improvements. However, organic consumers should not be able to dictate conventional practices by blatantly spreading misinformation. Let’s not forget that there is such a thing as “Big Organic.”

This Semi-Wordless Wednesday my mini me/nephew (the Twerp) finishes his 4th grade year. Oh, how time flies. A little advice from Babe Ruth that I hope he always follows.

This Semi-Wordless Wednesday my mini me/nephew (the Twerp) finishes his 4th grade year. Oh, how time flies. A little advice from Babe Ruth that I hope he always follows.

 

Here we go again. The Organic vs. Conventional agriculture debate has recently graced the pages and website of the Wall Street Journal in the form of two separate opinion pieces. The first article from May 15th argues the superiority […]

 

Here we go again. The Organic vs. Conventional agriculture debate has recently graced the pages and website of the Wall Street Journal in the form of two separate opinion pieces. The first article from May 15th argues the superiority of conventional farming methods and downplays the viability of organic methods to produce and abundance of food without increasing the amount of land used for farming, among other things.

The second article, published on May 22nd, claims that organic farming can be as productive as conventional farming, and even goes so far as to claim that organic methods can counteract global warming entirely, and even “could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions.” Read that again. Supposedly, organic methods of farming could single-handedly stop global warming. I’ll admit, it is nice to see a claim for organic that doesn’t rely on unfounded claims of GMOs causing cancer, but I find this one to be just as laughable.

I am no scientist, but I understand and can occasionally spot bad science. The study done to bolster this global warming cure was done by the Rodale Institute, which is a nonprofit that advocates organic practices. (A study conducted by an organization with an admitted agenda should be the first red flag here.) To further the problem, the institute set up trials and studies to prove their hypothesis. That, folks, is bad science. Experiments are supposed to try and falsify a hypothesis, not prove it.

The white paper published by the institute is laden with fear driving commentary and a lack of analyzed data. The study claims that organic has fewer input costs, uses less energy and yields just as much or high compared to conventional methods, even that organic crops are more adaptable to the potential changes attributed to global warming. To use an industry term, this sounds like a “snake oil” study.

If it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is.

Everyone Else Folks, I’m just going to lay it out there: there is the creative side of an ad agency, and then there is everyone else. Unsurprisingly, this is the mindset of more than the majority of creative […]

The post How an Ad Agency is Divided appeared first on My Ag Life.

Folks, I’m just going to lay it out there: there is the creative side of an ad agency, and then there is everyone else. Unsurprisingly, this is the mindset of more than the majority of creative side individuals (a figure made possible by some believing it so much that it factors at 1.5x). As much as it might pain me to admit it, because I am not technically in the creative department, they are right.

It’s important to note that I don’t think creatives are the end-all, be-all of the ad world. Everyone at an ad agency has their functions and everyone plays an important role, but creatives are the uncracked walnuts in the bowl of mixed nuts. Not a bunch of walnuts, just one big one. Or, perhaps more accurately, they are one big pan of homemade brownies on a dessert buffet and everyone else is a random piece of candy in the candy drawer. Allow me to explain further.

The creative department at HLK occupies the south side of the agency building (with a few programmers/developers sprinkled in) and is reffered to as the creative side, and the north side is quite literally everyone else who is not a creative. PPC managers. Strategists. Brand

managers. Account Coordinators. You name it and they are on the north side, and most likely they only have involvement with a third the people stationed over there. We really are just a mixed bowl of candy.

The north side is busy and bustling at 9 A.M. The south side usually looks deserted. That doesn’t mean that they are lazy or work fewer hours, they just function on a different schedule. Try and schedule a meeting with a creative before 10 A.M. and you’ll likely be the only participant. They just have a homemade, handcrafted feel, like a pan of brownies. They can’t be rushed or worked hastily or else the product loses its quality. That isn’t to say that the north side is sloppy, but it feels more industrious, like a bowl of mixed candy.

How do I fit into all of this mess? I, quite literally, split the difference. I am the candied nut. The mixed nut brownie. As a content developer I share a mix of roles and responsibilities. I’ve done copywriting, copy editing, photography and production, videography and production, even been in a commercial (embarrassing outtake compilation here). My desk is stationed on the north side but I spend most of my time in the entrance/kitchen area that is in between the north and south sides. Coincidence really. I am out there partly because I like to stand and do my work (better for your back) and partly because that puts me closer to my food (which anyone here can attest that I eat constantly).
The north side candy drawer, which inspired this hair-brained post

The north side candy drawer, which inspired this hair-brained post
Where I hang out

Where I hang out

It’s a gloomy, chilly Semi-Wordless Wednesday here in Saint Louis. Perhaps that has made me a bit dreamy (and sleepy). Either way, happy Wednesday everybody. Call up someone you’re thinking of just to let them know they’re on your mind. […]

The post Star Thought appeared first on My Ag Life.
]]> It’s a gloomy, chilly Semi-Wordless Wednesday here in Saint Louis. Perhaps that has made me a bit dreamy (and sleepy). Either way, happy Wednesday everybody. Call up someone you’re thinking of just to let them know they’re on your mind. Share a little Star Thought.

 

It’s referred to as the billion dollar bug because CRW costs farmers approximately a billion dollars each year in yield losses and management costs. As the temperature begins to rise this spring, so will the CRW populations. InsectForecast is a very […]

Corn rootworm. It’s referred to as the billion dollar bug because CRW costs farmers approximately a billion dollars each year in yield losses and management costs. As the temperature begins to rise this spring, so will the CRW populations. InsectForecast is a very handy seasonal tracking tool (I did a review of the site not long ago), but the site doesn’t give specific management advice for your farm. Insert the Genuity Corn Rootworm Manager App. image_2 The app is available for free in the iTunes store and helps assess your risk for CRW, and even goes so far as to provide management advice corresponding to your risk level. The app allows you to enter multiple farms and multiple fields so that your entire operation can be micro managed. Using a question/answer format, you’re guided through five stages: Planting History, At Planting, Larval Management, Adult Management and Next Season. The Planting History section asks about what you’ve planted the previous three seasons and what (if any) precautions have been used. After answering all of the questions, the app will let you know what risk level your field is at and provide you with management suggestions depending on the severity. The app also provides some useful articles on CRW, like scouting and management practices.You can also set reminders and email yourself reports.image_3 The At Planting section inquires about what modes of action you will be using and what kinds of (if any) insecticides you will be applying. The Larval Management section centers heavily around the ability to chemigate your field. You’ll be asked to record scouting information and asked what insecticides were used at planting. Don’t worry about having to type all those hard-to-spell names in. There are listed options. At the end of this section, you’ll also be provided with a recommended insecticide.image_4 The Adult Management section relies heavily on identification and recording scouting data. Don’t worry, the app shows you how to identify the male and female beetles, even what stage of egg laying the females are in. The Next Season Section will come into play around the R5 growth stage and again is centered around scouting and modes of action used. This section will also provide a risk assessment for next season, as well it recommends management options. The Genuity Corn Rootworm Manager App should make tracking and managing CRW easier. With the ability to set reminders, receive reports, read agronomic scouting and management articles, and receive product and insecticide recommendations, farmers might steal a little back from the billion dollar bug. Download it and try it for yourself!

Plant Science and Improving the Human Condition Who is going to carry on this mission? Who is going to keep this science based society going? – Bill Danforth I didn’t know what to expect from the Taste of Science event. […]

Plant Science and Improving the Human Condition

Who is going to carry on this mission? Who is going to keep this science based society going?

I didn’t know what to expect from the Taste of Science event. The invitation was vague, but intriguing. “Join other young professionals and learn about the Center’s mission to improve the human condition through plant science,” was all email said, aside from the building address. I sharked around the lobby, sampled some of the hors d’oeuvres, enjoyed a glass (or three) of Pinot and tried to act like I had been to an event like this before.

He has a charming, unassuming demeanor. Age has bent his spine and in the certain lighting he looks frail, even though he doesn’t tremble. Soft spoken and alert, Dr. Bill Danforth addressed the crowd at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center that was “not even half” his age and delivered a simple, straight forward challenge: who will help keep this culture going?

Dr. Danforth might be anywhere between 85 and 95 (I heard conflicting reports, and didn’t think it appropriate to ask the man himself. My research found that he is 88), but he carries an enlightened, optimistic attitude with his slender frame. The former Chancellor of Washington University, Dr. Danforth expressed his delight at seeing such a youthful gathering. He is humorous, good-natured, captivating. Also, perhaps most importantly, he is a forward thinker with worlds of information.

For instance, did you know that approximately 70% of freshwater that we use goes to agriculture production? I found that to be an alarming number (the USGS says about 60% goes to irrigation). Dr. Danforth expanded upon that thought: what issues will that create with the ever rising global population?

During the “green revolution,” which occurred between 1940 and 1970, was the most significant change in agriculture production capabilities in some 3000 years. Yields for some crops doubled, thanks to better irrigation techniques, plant breeding and the introduction of better fertilizers and agro chemicals. This issue is, as Mr. Danforth asserted, is that this model of production is becoming insufficient. Too much water and too many chemicals are being used, with both situations having their own adverse effects on the environment and our survival. So how do we curb our current trends and practices? Answer: tomatoes.

The tomato has been growing in the Atacama desert for 2 million years. Granted, it is an ancestral form of modern-day tomatoes, but it is still a fruiting plant. A fruiting plant in a desert. The driest desert on Earth (there are places there that don’t receive rain for years, and some places that have never had rainfall recorded.) What scientists at the Danforth Center (one of the many things) is how to increase water efficiency in plants, like the desert tomato. One way to do so is gene splicing. (GMOs! Gasp!)

By sequencing the genes of the desert tomato and a “normal” tomato, scientists can mark and identify which segment of genes are responsible/play a role in water conservation, and by splicing in those genes into certain points on a normal tomato then they can better understand how to breed plants that need far less water. (Monsanto does this with some of their new DroughtGard products).

The Danforth Center (yes, Dr. Danforth is related the brother of Senator Donald Danforth who the building is named after) is a not for profit research center, one of the largest of its kind. While there, I also spoke to a man who is working on “golden” cassava. Like potatoes, cassava is a tubular plant and is a staple in the diet of many African nations. However, the plant might be high in starchy material but lacks much nutrient value, like a potato or rice. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working with scientists at the Danforth Center (and around the globe) to bring these enhanced products to communities in great need of them.

Listening to Dr. Danforth speak with such optimism, and hearing how so much scientific progress can be used to improve the human condition, I left the building walking a little lighter, a little brighter. And no, it wasn’t the wine.

 

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