Thursday, February 23, 2017

Food and Agriculture: Looking to the Future

As we all know our world population is growing and things are changing in agriculture and food production. The short video below from the FAO takes a look at trends in agriculture and food and challenges that are coming our way. I encourage you to watch the video and utilize the discussion points to start conversations with others. To catch all the trends and challenges you may want to pause the video from time to time if needed.

Discussion Points
  • Many trends were shared. Which trend did you find of the greatest importance (or most surprising) and how will it affect food and agriculture production?
  • Ten challenges were shared facing food and agriculture. Pick out one of these challenges and explain why it is important. Additionally, share how you feel this challenge can be met by farmers and consumers around the world.
  • There are many additional challenges facing food and agriculture today, beyond the ten mentioned. What is an additional challenge that comes to mind and why is it important?
Additional classroom activity: Break into groups and divide the ten challenges up amongst the groups. Have each group become experts in that area. Have them research and present their findings including: Explanation of the challenge, supporting data (how/why do we know this is important), how this challenge may look different around the world, possible solutions to the challenge, etc.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Yemen: Conflict and Agriculture

Yemen is a country that is dealing with major conflict. There are many impacts that conflict can have on countries and agriculture and food security are areas that are often vulnerable. Below is an article that discusses how conflict is affecting agriculture and food security in Yemen. We encourage you to look over the linked article and utilize the discussion points below to spark conversations around the globe.

Yemen Food Crisis Deteriorates

Discussion Points

  • What does food security and nutrition look like in Yemen currently? What has the trend over the past two years been? 
  • Explain the difference between food insecurity and malnutrition.
  • Explain the importance of agriculture to the country of Yemen.
  • What are the challenges facing agriculture in Yemen today? How do you feel these challenges could be overcome?
  • Norman Borlaug stated, "You can't build a peaceful world on empty stomachs." Explain how this statement relates to the current situation in Yemen.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wheat Rust on the Attack

Over the past year we have seen the spread of old and new wheat rust strains around the world. The linked article below shares information on the area of impact, ramifications, and much more in regards to wheat rust. We encourage you to read the linked article and then utilize the discussion points below to spark conversation around the globe!

Spread of Damaging Wheat Rust Continues 

Discussion Points

  • Explain the recent trend of wheat rust around the globe.
    • What parts of the world/countries are being impacted?
    • Why is this so troubling?
  • Why is it so important that we have global collaboration in battling wheat rust (or any challenge facing agriculture for that matter)?
  • The article explains the direct impact that wheat rust is having in Asia, Europe, and Africa. What other impacts is or could wheat rust have on global wheat prices and production? How is or could this affect wheat prices and production in your home country?
  • Brainstorm ways to control and/or stop the damage being done by wheat rust. Reflect on the resources needed and challenges facing your thoughts and how to meet these respective needed resources and challenges.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Gene Editing and Cattle

Scientists in China have genetically edited cattle by inserting a gene that increases their resistance to bovine tuberculosis. This has been tried before, but until this time they have not seen the success with avoiding off target genetic effects. Below we have provided a link to a recent article for your review and encourage you to engage in conversation with others around the globe utilizing the discussion points.

Article: Tuberculosis-resistant cows developed for the first time using CRISPR technology 

Discussion Points

  • Why do scientists in China feel this is such a breakthrough? What are the benefits?
  • Explain the technology they utilized to accomplish this (CRISPR/Cas9). If needed do a quick internet search on the process. There are even many videos on Youtube that explain the process.
  • It was noticed that before this time when they attempted this procedure they would find off target genetic effects. Explain what this means.
  • How do you see this being perceived in your local community? State? Country? And around the world? Will different regions view this science differently?
  • Finally, you are challenged to see both sides of the argument. Some are very excited about this and others are fearful. See if you can list out the arguments from both sides and then try to research what facts there are to support each respective argument.