In food crisis, Mexican valley offers lessons

by Dave

The Associated Press:

Even here in Mexico, in this vibrant wheat belt crisscrossed by tractors and crop dusters, farmers are in a daily struggle. Climate change is blamed for more frequent droughts, hotter temperatures and the spread of new plant diseases. The cost of fertilizers has tripled, and their overuse has depleted soils, spewed more greenhouse gas into the skies and polluted water with farm runoff.

“It was a clearer agenda when Dr. Borlaug was here: The goal was to produce more food, period,” said Tom Payne of the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. “Now our agenda has kind of brought in a lot of different facets that make it a lot more difficult.”

Matthew Reynolds, a wheat physiologist at the center, said the next green revolution needs to mix tried-and-true technologies with sustainable practices, or the world will be fighting famine again in another 50 years.

“We applied the Industrial Revolution model to the green agricultural revolution and we went a little bit too far in that direction, and now we have to back off a bit and respect the fact that the plants and the soil are biological,” he said. “They are not engineering problems. They’re more complex.”