Toward Sustainable Agriculture

Corn fields in Illinois

Corn fields in Illinois

Sustainable Agriculture (starts 3:06): We couldn’t feed the planet without nitrogen, a vital nutrient for crops. But most soils don’t produce enough of it to feed anywhere near our 7 billion-plus humans on the planet. So, for nearly a century we’ve been applying synthetic fertilizer—mainly nitrogen and phosphorus — to grow crops for animals and people. But we have overindulged, creating vast amounts of waste, in the form of nitrogen pollution of waterways and the atmosphere. State and federal regulations have pressured growers to dramatically reduce fertilizer runoff from their fields. But it’s not been enough. Another approach – call it the carrot versus the stick – is also taking hold. Major food retailers, wholesalers, and producers, such as Walmart, United Suppliers and Unilever are transforming their whole supply chains, making food production less carbon- and nitrogen-intensive. Suzy Friedman, a sustainable agriculture expert with the Environmental Defense Fund, discusses with host Susan Moran how programs such as SUSTAIN help large food companies shrink their environmental footprint.

Hosts: Natalia Bayona, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Tim Russo
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Our Microbes, Ourselves — Special Call-in Show

human gut microbes

human gut microbes

Our Microbes, Ourselves, Dec. 31, 2015: Roughly one hundred trillion bacteria are living, and gorging, in our gut–all the more so during the indulgent holidays. Microbes influence our health and well-being, by affecting our gut directly, as well as the crops we eat and the soils in which we grow crops. These microbial communities  – called the gut microbiome — have been linked to many disorders, including obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, and even mental illness. We are just at the dawn of a new era of microbial treatments for many illnesses. After a recent How On Earth show generated so much interest, we decided to bring our guest, Amy Sheflin, back for an hour-long call-in show on A Public Affair on KGNU. Amy is a doctoral student at Colorado State University in food science and human nutrition. She studies how the food we eat alters the microbial communities in our gut, and how those microbes in our bodies influence our overall health. For more info on the gut microbiome, check out Amy’s favorite books on the topic: The Good Gut, by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg; and The Inside Tract, by Gerard Mullins. Also check out the American Gut Project.

Host: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran

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GMOs & Health: The Loss of Small Farms and the Rise of Immune Disorders

We look at the strange rise in autoimmune diseases, allergies and asthma, with experts from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and with National Jewish Health Immunlogist Andy Liu  in Denver.  And, we explore whether genetically modified crops might be increasing our chance of getting ill, with Agricultural Scientist, Charles Benbrook of The Organic Center.

In this report, Shelley Schlender takes a look at genetically modified crops and other modern farming techniques, and how they might, or might not be, connected to the dramatic rise in immune disorders.  As part of this report, she’ll look into the strange case of a bacteria in GM corn that was NOT supposed to get into human bloodstream.  Recent research indicates that it does.  And she’ll discuss the hygiene hypothesis with  health experts who suggest that our society has become so “clean” that, in some ways, it makes us sick.

Go here for extended interviews with Charles Benbrook, Andy Liu, Carol Shilson, Stefano Guandalini.

Co-hosts: Susan Moran and Joel Parker
Engineer: Tom McKinnon
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Show Producer: Shelley Schlender

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