16 February 2012

One Tomato at a Time: Feeding the World with Controlled Environment Agriculture

Tomatoes grown with controlled environment agriculture
A simple insalata caprese served to bring about a possible, worldwide agricultural revolution in Tucson, Ariz.

Each tomato in the Capri-style dish was a product of gardening perfection, grown within a precise range of "Goldilocks" (not too hot, not too cold) temperatures with a steady supply of light, carbon dioxide, water, and nutrients. Each bite and burst of fresh-off-the-vine tang only reminds, "Yes, food can and should taste this good."

The lucky few who enjoyed the salad—along with grilled eggplant, squash, fruit, and watermelon juice—were University of Arizona scientists attending the Research and Reports Retreat on Aug. 19 hosted by the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC). 
Nina Fedoroff, professor of biology at Penn State and AAAS president, gave the keynote address.

Can We Prevent a Food Crisis while Preserving Biodiversity?

Nina Fedoroff

To feed a crowded planet and avoid further loss of species, Nina Fedoroff, professor of biology at Penn State University and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), argues for more focus on biotechnology and controlled environment agriculture. 

"Time is not on our side," she said in a keynote address at a research reports and retreat in Tucson, Ariz., hosted Aug. 19 by The University of Arizona's Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

Thomas Malthus reasoned in 1798 that exponential population growth would eventually bring on worldwide famine and devastation, but he couldn’t have foreseen the advent of the most sophisticated agricultural production in human history. If he’d had a crystal ball, he would have witnessed plant science take hold—the introduction of post-Mendelian breeding practices, mechanization, intensive propagation and chemical fertilization.