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UCS Publications | Food and Agriculture

 

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UCS reports are available online. For print copies of *select* books and other items, see our online store, or complete this order form and send it to UCS Publications, 2 Brattle Sq., Cambridge, MA 02138-3780 (or fax it to 617-864-9405). For orders under $50, add 20% for shipping & handling; over $50, add 10%. UCS members are entitled to a 20% discount on all prices listed.

The $11 Trillion Reward

It turns out that an apple a day really can keep the doctor away—especially if she's a cardiologist. This 2013 report shows how even simple dietary changes could save more than 100,000 lives and $17 billion in health care costs from heart disease each year.

By Jeffrey K. O'Hara. UCS, 2013. 12 pp.

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The Healthy Farm: A Vision for U.S. Agriculture

How can we move from today’s industrial agriculture to a farming system that benefits farmers, communities and the environment? This 2013 policy brief outlines what farmers and policymakers can do to help ensure a healthier farming future.

By the UCS Food and Environment Program. UCS, 2013. 8 pp.

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Cream of the Crop: The Economic Benefits of Organic Dairy Farms

Organic dairy farms don't just provide healthy milk using environmentally friendly methods--they also provide a profitable alternative for dairy farmers who don't want to "grow big or get out." This 2012 report shows how investing in organic dairy is an economic winner.

By Jeffrey K. O'Hara and Robert Parsons. UCS, 2012. 36 pp.

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High and Dry: Why Genetic Engineering Is Not Solving Agriculture's Drought Problem in a Thirsty World

Droughts can be devastating to farmers and food supplies. The biotech industry has touted the potential of genetic engineering to reduce the impact of drought. But as this 2012 Union of Concerned Scientists report shows, the results so far are modest compared to non-GE approaches—and the costs are high.

By Doug Gurian-Sherman. UCS, 2012. 34 pp.

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Ensuring the Harvest: Crop Insurance and Credit for a Healthy Farm and Food Future

Americans need to eat more fruits and vegetables, according to the USDA. Yet these healthy foods account for only 2 percent of U.S. farm acreage. Ensuring the Harvest explains how current federal policy creates obstacles for fruit and vegetable farmers—and how Congress can remove those obstacles.

By Jeffrey K. O'Hara. UCS, 2012. 30 pp.

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Toward Healthy Food and Farms: How Science-Based Policies Can Transform Agriculture

Policies that subsidize industrial agriculture and processed foods are bad for the environment and our health. It's time to start supporting healthy food and farms through forward-thinking, science-based agricultural policy. In this 2012 policy brief, UCS agricultural experts explain what our top priorities should be as Congress begins to debate the next Farm Bill.

By the UCS Food and Environment Program. UCS, 2012. 4 pp.

Healthy Food and Farms Policy Brief [PDF]

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Market Forces: Creating Jobs through Public Investment in Local and Regional Food Systems

Locally grown food is not only good for your taste buds—it creates jobs, keeps money in local economies, promotes community development, and can reduce the environmental and public health costs of the food we eat. To maximize these benefits, we need new policies aimed at helping local and regional food systems thrive and expand.

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Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and Pasture-Raised Beef Production in the U.S.

Agriculture accounts for about 6 percent of total heat-trapping emissions in the United States, and beef production alone accounts for 2.2 percent of the total—roughly the equivalent of the annual emissions of 24 million cars or light trucks, or 33 average-sized coal-fired power plants.

The good news is that beef production can also be part of the solution. Raising the Steaks looks at ways pasture-based beef producers could lower their climate emissions and take greater advantage of pastures’ capacity to remove heat-trapping carbon from the atmosphere and store it in soil.

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The Climate-Friendly Gardener: A Guide to Combating Global Warming From the Ground Up

The millions of Americans with a lawn or garden know that even small shifts in weather can affect their outdoor plans. Unchecked global warming, however, could force gardeners to deal with more droughts and floods, and a profusion of pests and weeds. The Climate-Friendly Gardener shows you how to reduce the impact of climate change in your own backyard.

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No Sure Fix: Prospects for Reducing Nitrogen Fertilizer Pollution through Genetic Engineering

Agricultural operations currently apply massive amounts of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to crops—more than what the plants can actually use. Genetic engineering (GE) that would enable crops to use nitrogen more efficiently has been proposed as a way of reducing nitrogen pollution while maintaining or increasing the productivity needed to feed an increasing global population. 

However, in No Sure Fix, the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that GE has yet to produce any crops capable of achieving this goal, despite increasing research efforts over the past decade. Preliminary results for several genes show some promise, but the prospects for their commercial use are uncertain due to the complexity of nitrogen metabolism and genetics in crops.
 
Meanwhile, traditional plant breeding and other methods have shown success in increasing crops' nitrogen use efficiency, but are currently neglected compared with GE.

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Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performace of Genetically Engineered Crops

For years the biotechnology industry has trumpeted that it will feed the world, promising that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields.

2009's Failure to Yield is the first report to closely evaluate the overall effect genetic engineering has had on crop yields in relation to other agricultural technologies and found that, over the past 15 years, traditional crop breeding and improved agricultural practices account for most gains in U.S. crop production.

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CAFOs Uncovered: The High Cost of Confined Animal Operations

CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) dominate U.S. meat and dairy production and causing major health and environmental problems. But current policies actually promote them at taxpayer expense. 2008's CAFOs Uncovered explores these issues and recommends new policies.

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Greener Pastures: How Grass-fed Beef and Milk Contribute to Healthy Eating

This report confirms that grass-fed beef is often leaner than the beef found on most supermarket shelves. In addition, beef and milk from animals raised entirely on pasture have higher levels than conventionally raised beef and dairy cattle of beneficial fats that may prevent heart disease and strengthen the immune system.

By Kate Clancy. 87 pp.

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The Economics of Pharmaceutical Crops: Potential Benefits and Risks for Farmers and Rural Communities

This report is the first analysis by a land-grant university economist of potential economic benefits and risks of pharmaceutical crops to farmers and rural America. UCS scientists conclude that proponents of pharmaceutical crops have inflated the rewards and downplayed the risks.

Robert Wisner (technical report) and Margaret Mellon and Jane Rissler (UCS preface). UCS, 2005. 29 pp.

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A Growing Concern: Protecting the Food Supply in an Era of Pharmaceutical and Industrial Crops

This report presents the findings of a 2003 expert workshop on protecting the U.S. food supply from contamination by crops engineered to produce pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals. The report includes an executive summary of UCS's conclusions and policy recommendations.

By David Andow et al. (Technical Report) and Margaret Mellon and Jane Rissler (UCS Executive Summary). 125 pp.

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Gone to Seed: Transgenic Contaminants in the Traditional Seed Supply

Seeds of traditional crops are contaminated with DNA from genetically engineered (GE) crops according to Gone to Seed, a new UCS report. Laboratory testing of traditional (non-GE) seeds of corn, soybeans, and canola commissioned by UCS documents the presence of DNA commonly used in commercial GE crops.

These findings suggest inadequate federal standards to protect our seed supply and our food from harmful contaminants like those originating in pharmaceutical (pharm) and industrial crops.

By Margaret Mellon and Jane Rissler. UCS, 2004. 80 pp.

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Hogging It: Estimates of Antimicrobial Abuse in Livestock

The use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture is eroding physicians' ability to treat infectious disease in humans. This report provides the first estimate based on a transparent methodology of the amount of antimicrobials given to animals for nontherapeutic purposes, such as promoting growth. The amount is enormous, dwarfing the quantity of antimicrobials in human medicine.

By Margaret Mellon, Charles Benbrook, and Karen Lutz Benbrook. UCS, 2001. 110 pp.

View the executive summary and download the full report

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