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Chapter 18: Greener than Green — The Infinite Resource by Ramez Naam

farming FARMING
2% 293M
metric tons
50
years
8000
sq. miles
70% 14,450
of citizens of
industrialized
countries farm
of rice
consumed
in 2007[1]
until
food needs
triple
of dead zone in
Gulf of Mexico
from Midwest
Nitrogen runoff
of world's
fresh water
consumed by
farm irrigation
organic farms
in 2008
vitamin A VITAMIN A
2M - 3M
children
500K
children
50K
genes
2
genes
under age 5
die
from a lack of
vitamin A
go blind
from a lack of
vitamin A
make up
corn
need modification
to add beta carotene
to corn[2]
book
cows LIVESTOCK
1.3B 18% 5B - 6B
cattle
on the
planet today
of all
greenhouse gases
come from
cows and sheep[3]
more
cattle required
to use only
natural fertilizer
roots ORGANIC FARMING
Pro'sCons
  • less energy used by farm equipment
  • no pesticide ingestion by humans
  • no pesticide runoff into fresh water supply or oceans

    food
  • produces lower crop yields (need more land to grow same amount of food)
    • organic corn produces 70% yield of conventional corn
    • organic rice produces 59% yield of conventional rice
    • organic cabbage produces 43% yield of conventional cabbage
  • needs 1 - 2 times as much land to grow same amount of food
  • would need to cut down 50% of all existing forests to grow same amount of food if all done organically
corn GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMO)
Pro'sCons
  • can add beta carotene to rice and wheat to eliminate ill-effects from lack of vitamin A
  • modify C3 photosynthesis crops to use type C4 photosynthesis (less water and plants store 2 times the energy from sun as calories)
  • modify crops to produce high yields (save forests)
  • modify crops to not need fertilizer (no runoff)
  • grow meat without animals (no livestock suffering)
  • add Wallaby stomach bacteria to livestock to reduce methane gas emissions into the atmosphere by 80%
  • Monsanto patent issue where seed harvesting/replanting disallowed
  • new type of food testing for the FDA
  • people afraid of it because they don't understand it
  Footnotes:
  1. rice is the most consumed food in the world
  2. humans digest beta carotene to create vitamin A
  3. more than what is emitted by all of the world's cars combined