Print Settings

EARTHSYS 106C: Why are Scientists Engineering Our Food?

This lecture and discussion course will review the scientific evidence on the use and impacts of genetic engineering in global food and agricultural systems. The class will cover the history and details of crop genetic improvement, ranging from primitive domestication to CRISPR technologies. We will examine the risks and benefits of crop genetic technologies in agriculture with regards to productivity, farm incomes, food safety, human health and nutrition, and environmental impacts. We will also discuss the current and future use of genetic engineering techniques for enhancing climate resilience and nutritional outcomes in agricultural systems worldwide. Finally, we will discuss the ethics of using modern genetic approaches for crop improvement, and the policy environment surrounding the use of these genetic techniques.Our expectation is that students enrolled in the course will attend all class sections and participate actively in the discussions. Students will be asked to identify peer-reviewed, scientific papers on the impacts of specific crop genetic improvements. Depending on the class size, students will also be asked to help lead class discussions. At the end of the course, students will work in groups to debate a selected topic on the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, to be announced during the course.Prerequisites: One course in biology and one course in economics are suggested. Completion of "Feeding Nine Billion" and "The World Food Economy" classes would also be helpful, as would a class in genetics, but there are no strict course requirements.
Last offered: Spring 2018 | Units: 2

EARTHSYS 185: Feeding Nine Billion

Feeding a growing and wealthier population is a huge task, and one with implications for many aspects of society and the environment. There are many tough choices to be made- on fertilizers, groundwater pumping, pesticide use, organics, genetic modification, etc. Unfortunately, many people form strong opinions about these issues before understanding some of the basics of how food is grown, such as how most farmers currently manage their fields, and their reasons for doing so. The goal of this class is to present an overview of global agriculture, and the tradeoffs involved with different practices. Students will develop two key knowledge bases: basic principles of crop ecology and agronomy, and familiarity with the scale of the global food system. The last few weeks of the course will be devoted to building on this knowledge base to evaluate different future directions for agriculture.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-AQR
Instructors: ; Lobell, D. (PI)
© Stanford University | Terms of Use | Copyright Complaints