The future of farming

The third and final part of our special edition on agriculture takes a cool-headed look at the promise of organic farming and investigates how science is helping to save Florida's citrus industry.

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The Green Revolution that Norman Borlaug set in train 50 years ago saved many of the world's poorest people from starvation, but the principles on which that was founded are under attack with many suspicious and fearful of biotechnology.

Critics of the scientific approach to the new challenges of feeding a growing global population say the future should be in organic farming. James Mitchell Crow takes a cool-headed look at its promise and limitations along with a case-study on Cuba; Amy Harmon investigates a case where genetics is helping to save the citrus industry in Florida and Thomas Lumpkin, the Director General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) closes our coverage with a look back on Borlaug's life and achievement as he prepares to celebrate what would have been the scientist's 100th birthday.

You can catch up with our previous coverage where we unpack the issues facing modern agriculture.

Last week Keith Kloor analysed why agribusiness giant Monsanto is so reviled and debunked some of the more shocking stories about the company. David Ropeik explained the psychology of the GM food wars and how we assess risk. Elizabeth Finkel, meanwhile, reported on an organic farming success story in Indonesia; how reading 1,000 bull genomes is improving cattle productivity; and about efforts to engineer plants that will be more efficient in their use of that vital but diminishing resource, phosphate.

In our opening section, Robert Zeigler wrote of his fears that anti-technology zealots could take food out of the mouths of future generations; Elizabeth Finkel examined the lessons of the Green Revolution; Nina Fedoroff asked whether agriculture would become a victim of its own success and former anti-GMO activist Mark Lynas explained his change of heart.

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