Over the last few decades, the public has been – and still is – creating awareness on the values of organically produced foods. For many foodies an important value of organic foods is the pure production process, without synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
The food industry tries to capitalize on this by increasing their yield in other ways. To minimize crop losses and thus maximize revenues, they have started to engineer killer bugs. These bugs are programmed to act as pesticides, eating and killing insects to protect the crops.
However, an ethical question arises. Are we now relocating the chemical process of crop preservation from the crops themselves to the insects? Is it better to modify and “enhance” these bugs, so the issue shifts from the crops to a new species and thus an altered ecosystem?
Via Businessweek. Illustration by Gerald Leung.
Using only plastic sheets and an irrigation-nutrient system, a Japanese researcher has found a way to change agriculture as we know it. Professor Yuichi Mori argues in his talk at TEDx Tokyo that a film made of hydrogel with nano-sized holes in it is the most important ingredient for growing crops.
The roots of plants will attach themselves to the transparent membrane plastic and the technique uses much less fertilizer and one tenth of the water to produce the same amount of crops as in conventional agriculture.
According to Mori any surface in the world will work, from contaminated ground from the Tsunami in Japan in 2011 to the desert. This last statement is being tested at the moment, as desert greenhouses in the Middle East are supplied with the technique.