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Organic Farms and GMO Seeds: The Keys to Feeding 9 Billion People?


That subject heading is kind of a stretch-a loose encapsulation of a new report I just read about on this New York Times blog. The report, done by Deutsche Bank's climate-change research team, looks at predicted soaring global populations (9 billion by 2050) and asks how the hell everyone's going to get fed. Considering the unsustainability of current agri-business, it seems like a smart time to start looking at this.One solution proposed was low-input organic farming (high five!), as well an increased use of GMO seeds (low five?). Since many environmentalists are anti-GMO, I imagine this will be an unpopular idea in certain circles. Monsanto horror stories aside, though, I've never fully agreed with the in-principle objection to GMOs from an environmental perspective, and would encourage anyone who hasn't read this Atlantic piece from many years ago to do so. There are valid arguments against patented seeds and their impact on farmers, as well as a general creepiness factor that's hard to argue with, but on the flip side, GMO seeds often allow for cleaner growing, as many do not require the use of poisonous pesticides.To me, organic farming is the ideal, but is it realistic? Absent a worldwide revolution, it's hard to see this being the mainstream, affordable, scalable wave of the future. Because 2050 is not that far away, and 9 billion is a lot of people, and big business wants to make money off those people. Something tells me their silverbullet isn't going to be local, organic, owner-run farms. But maybe I'm being overly cautious here.Also, as much as we all love to hate GMOs, they're not going anywhere (and thanks to this new collaboration, they may be even more common and inescapable starting soon). So should we learn to love them? Is regulating the scope of their patents the best way to keep them in check?What do you think is the best way to feed 9 billion people?
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