Urban Farming News

Does Monsanto Help Farmers?

Posted in climate stabilization, distribution, farm labor, food security, fossil fuels, global hunger, Uncategorized by Urban Farming News on January 22, 2010

So, with all of this buzz going on around Monsanto this week, I decided to look a bit deeper into this big, bad company.

What is the cost of a GMO?

A farmer’s livelihood? The inability to stop cross  pollination? Increased food production on less land? Eradicating Hunger?

This is a topic that hits close to home for me.  Raised in rural Wisconsin, My family represents a strong hold of small family farmers. I will admit, I was shocked to learn that our family uses GMO’s such as “Round Up Ready”  soy beans (if you’re wondering,  Court Rules For Monsanto, Anti Trust Case Remains reported by NPR) However if you look at the facts, Monsanto does defend small farms around the world.

Farm Facts According to Monsanto

* Today’s farmer feeds an average of 155 people, compared to only 26 people in 1960

* Farmers are a direct lifeline to more than 24 million jobs in the U.S.

* To keep up with population growth more food will have to be produced in the next 50 years as the past 10,000 years combined.

* Go to Monsanto to read more!

Conservation & Security

Clearly we need to keep our farms producing at largest capacity  with high quality.  Many families depend on their crops and need income security. Conservation of natural resources is also a serious concern for farmers. Check out this nifty video, Conserve More featuring Dr. Klaus Ammann

In summery, the video highlights how Monsanto’s engineered seeds reduce the need to till the land, thus reducing fuel cost for equipment. In addition, water is conserved as a natural erosion barrier is maintained. Basically, GMO crops = decreased tractor use + erosion control.  This equation seems a bit too simple…

Eradicating Hunger

The highlight of Monsanto’s lovely website was the bit that stated “True or False: The world grows enough food to feed its population. Generally true, although to eradicate hunger, people in the developing world need to be able to access food either by growing it or through purchase, which means it needs to be affordable”

The “developing world” is a loose term. The United States is still developing, if you want my humble opinion. I hope I can one day tell stories of people being hungry, with out jobs and homes (wait a second…didn’t I hear those as a kid?)

What will it take to really end hunger?   Let’s make like a farmer, roll up our sleeves, work our butts off and find out!

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Car Dependency Decreasing

Posted in climate stabilization, fossil fuels by Urban Farming News on January 8, 2010

Apparently American’s are relying less on cars, finally. My curiosity was peaked when I bumped into Steven T. Jone’s article “Has car ownership peaked? Let’s hope so” in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. As a commuter cyclist, user of public transit and recreational walker. I try to limit my driving to 1-2 trips per week. Don’t scoff; I’ve pulled this off in Los Angeles, Madison and San Francisco Nonetheless, I am curious about this trend.

According to the Earth Policy Institute, in the past year we scrapped 14 million cars. American’s only purchased 10 million. Math check; that equals 4 million less cars on the road. Great. If the trend continues, we will be down another few million in a couple years.

What’s the cause of this? The usual symptoms of course; market saturation, economic uncertainty, climate change concerns, fuel insecurity, people sick of sitting traffic, hipsters taking over the world with single speeds…

Above all, this is a really interesting trend. Many cities are upping restrictions on car use by increasing parking fees and extending meter hours.  The day I discovered $3.00 per hour parking was a rude awakening indeed. As a relatively “young” person I will be the first to admit that my pocket book is thin. Cars are expensive. Families are sharing cars, fewer teens are getting their driver’s licenses and cities are pushing for public transportation.

If you’ve taken a bus lately, you know how badly we need to improve public transit. Perhaps you’ve battled commuter traffic on the Bay Bridge. I was even appalled at the cross-town traffic in my lovely hometown of Madison! Ranting and raving doesn’t help much, however we’ve got to be aware of the trends. The stats are mere facts; please draw your own conclusions.