Over the past few years, there has been a surge of initiatives intended to bring our energy base and business practices into accord with the needs of our natural systems. The European Union announced its Green Deal in December 2019, the new Biden administration has unrolled a sweeping array of initiatives on climate change and environmental protection in its first 100 days, and around the world, nations such as Japan and even China have established goals to lower greenhouse gas emissions and curtail environmentally harmful practices. …


To avoid diving down a rabbit hole to answer this question, I have one piece of advice: follow the seeds.

We are on the cusp of an agricultural revolution. While many agree this is the case, things quickly get contentious. Is this the Fourth Agricultural Revolution, the Fifth, or even the Seventh? Does marrying the power of digital technology with farming qualify as the next agricultural revolution? Or should the title go to genetic breakthroughs that vastly speed the breeding of crops with traits that improve yields and withstand stress?

Unfortunately, there is no one authority that determines what constitutes…


For humans, a pandemic from a novel virus with a 4% mortality rate would be a global catastrophe. Today’s farmers face crop pandemics with mortality rates approaching 100%. That’s not hyperbole: banana plantations around the world are trying to contain a virulent fungus that threatens 100% of the leading variety, Cavendish bananas, and 95% of bananas sold commercially. …


English scholar Thomas Malthus made his first predictions about population economics and resources in 1798. More than two centuries later, there have been many projections that the world population will eventually outstrip agricultural production.

The consequence? Mass starvation.

Mercifully, agricultural production has kept pace and mooted those predictions over the last 200 years. This is in part because vast stretches of wilderness have been converted to cropland. It’s also in part because breakthroughs in farm practices, agronomy and the technology of plant breeding have increased the amount of food an acre of land can produce.

But we can no longer…


A changing climate. Limited arable land. Increasing pest resistance: How speed can help us overcome current sustainability challenges in the new millennium.

For hundreds of years, North America’s farmers have felt they could safely assume that next year’s weather would be much like last year’s and every other year’s, with adjustments for predictable cycles. That’s no longer the case. True, there have always been extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, but for the most part, they were rare. One of the hallmarks of the new millennium is that changes seem to be more severe and happening more frequently…


A short guide to answering a complicated question.

While Covid-19 has commandeered the world’s attention, an important debate that will weigh on the future of agriculture is in process in Europe. European regulatory agencies are assessing what constitutes a genetically modified (GM) product. This debate started in the last century, and it has been characterized by confusion, inaccuracy and inconsistency. Here is my ‘cheat sheet’ for what does — and what does not — qualify an organism as GM based on scientific discourse.

Settling GM vs. Non-GM

Broadest Definition: ‘GM’ means any genetic change in an organism. This definition is…


In the next 30 years, the world’s farmers have a significant challenge ahead of them: feed an additional two billion people, all while adapting to climate change and little arable land. New advances in gene editing can enable the agricultural community to meet those challenges, but its deployment has been slowed by a number of misconceptions about how this technology works.

Like many scientific advances before it, gene editing was bound to elicit both deep excitement and scrutiny because it presents an opportunity to change something we once considered permanent. These game-changing gene-editing advances in medicine show that our society’s…

Peter Beetham

Dr. Beetham has over 30 years of experience in the bio-agriculture community, with a passion for moving technology to commercial application.

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