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The monoculture threat

(article, Culinate staff)

Sure, Monsanto is pretty much always in the food-politics news; the latest stories concern the environmental hazards of Roundup Ready, the company's best-known product. But one Guardian writer recently opined about a more mundane concern: the well-documented dangers of monoculture farming, a farming practice Monsanto encourages through its strict monitoring of its genetically modified crops. As Jenna Woginrich wrote, rather breathlessly:

bq. To cover thousands of acres with one or two inbred crops — grown with chemical fertilisers and protected with pesticides — is a sketchy tightrope-walk over evolution's fiery maw. When a disease or insect mutates faster than the folks engineering these foodstuffs can whip up a cure-all, there could be a famine to end all famines. When everything is identical, it can all be destroyed just as uniformly if the perfect conditions arrive. If America or England lost all soy or corn production to a single savvy pest it would make 1845 in Ireland look like a cakewalk.

In other words, farmers should act like investors: diversify, diversify, diversify.