Dr. Pam Ronald

Uploaded by msuanrvideo08 on 06.05.2011

I'm a geneticist and my husband is an organic farmer. Many of our friends and family have asked us about organic production and
genetic engineering, whether engineered crops are safe to eat and safe for the environment?
They've asked why organic production is such a small part of our agriculture?
So we really wrote the book in response to those questions.
What we try to do is focus on issues of sustainable agriulture. We start out by describing a set of criteria for sustainable agriculture.
The importance of reducing toxic inputs and importance of using less land and less water.
The importance of having a viable economic farms,
nutritious food and feeding the poor and malnourished. Then we discussed different farming practices
and plant breeding tools that can possibly contribute to sustainable agriculture.
Many farmers practice sustainable appoaches but there are still farm systems that have incredible yield losses due to pests and disease.
or other farm systems that are using large amounts of insecticides or fertilizers so we try
to discuss ways of those farmers could of improve the sustainability of their systems.
I think we already know there's a lot of things that we can do.
There is some post harvest issues of crop loss in less developed countries.
But then there is also issues of farming practices. In some places in Africa for example, the yields a very very low,
ten fold lower than in the United States and there are methods that farmers can use there with new techniques that could help them have a
more sustainable food supply and have local food security.
And part of that is using improved seed
and then there's many places in the developed world where the possible over
use of certain insecticides and there's alternatives there in terms of integrated management strategies
So what we try to stress in the book is every farming system has to be looked at on its own
and that when we discuss sustainable agriculture it is really a case by case basis.
I think my husband and I are technology agnostics. My husband has a chapter in a book or a talks about his
Swiss army knife and how important that technology is to him in his everyday life both on the farm and at home
and so in our minds technology is just like any tool. If it can advance the goals of sustainable agriculture, then let's use it.
and if not then it's not as useful.
It is important to use the most appropriate technology for the situation.
And an appropriate technology for one crop may not be for another another crop.
So an appropriate technology must be easy for a farmer to use. It has to be fairlly cheap, it has to be effective
and so we evaluate technologies from that point of view.
Water, land and oil!
I think that water is a huge issue!
These water systems continue to be stressed so it's very important to keep our agriculture very productive.
Agriculture takes 70% of the world's fresh water.
So anyway that we can use our water more efficiently is going to be incredibly important.
The other issue is land. Most of our airable land has already been farmed.
That means is we have to produce more food on less land with less water.
Then finally energy. Energy is a big part of agricultural systems. Agriculture consumes about 30% of our energy in the United States.
So it's increasingly important to have effiecient farming practices that use less of that energy.