Our Best Environment Stories from 2016

The quest for sustainable food systems took two steps forward and one step back this year. Here are some of our favorite stories of the year.

Climate, GMOs, Pesticides

From pesticides to climate change, we published a number of strong stories about the environment in 2016. Here are our top picks for the year.

FDA to Start Testing for Glyphosate in Food
By Carey Gillam
The federal agency already tests for residues of many agricultural chemicals on food. Now it will include the widely used weed killer linked to cancer.

California’s Grand Plan to Fight Climate Change on the Farm
By Ariana Reguzzoni
California lawmakers move toward paying farmers to adopt climate-smart practices.

The EPA Says 3 Common Pesticides Could Harm Nearly All Endangered Species
By Elizabeth Grossman
The agency says 97 percent of the plants and animals listed under the Endangered Species Act are likely to be harmed by chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion.

North Carolina’s Factory Farms Produce 15,000 Olympic Pools Worth of Waste Each Year
By Christina Cooke
CAFOs are often hidden in plain sight. A new mapping project reveals the locations and impacts of the state’s 6,500 industrial hog and chicken farms.

Calculating the Hidden Cost of Industrial Farming
By Dan Mitchell
This preliminary, first-of-its kind data puts numbers behind the externalized costs and invisible benefits of several types of farming systems.

Meet the Bee Heroes Working On the Front Lines to Save Pollinators
By Nancy Matsumoto
Can these scientists help our pollinators before it’s too late?

Wrangling the Climate Impact of California Dairy
By Susie Cagle
Could new methane emissions regulations tend a greener California, or sour the state’s dairy industry?

A New Sperm Bank for Honeybees Could Save Agriculture
By Taryn Phaneuf
How cryopreservation techniques might sustain a threatened species, and us in the process.

Saving Crop Diversity From Inside a Frozen Mountain
By Lela Nargi
With American climate policy now highly uncertain, the founder of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault talks about his efforts to protect our agricultural future.

Why Seed Company Mergers Matter in a Warming World
By Doug Gurian-Sherman
Consolidation in the seed industry would further reduce agriculture’s ability to respond to climate change. Instead, we need to support the original “crowdsourcing”—the genetic diversity of crops developed on millions of small farms.

Invasive Lionfish Coming to a Menu Near You
By Sarah Shemkus
The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program has given it a green light for consumers and chefs, and Whole Foods announced it will begin selling the invasive fish.

How Carbon Farming Could Reverse Climate Change
By Vera Chang
Eric Toensmeier’s new book explores carbon sequestration through carbon farming as a way to cool the planet.

 The Woman Fighting to Make Sustainability Part of the American Diet
By Andy Bellatti
Dr. Miriam Nelson was a key figure behind the effort to work sustainability into the nation’s 2015 dietary guidelines. And she has hope for the future.

For Beginning Farmers in the West, Finding the Water to Grow Food is a Constant Gamble
By Ariana Reguzzoni
According to a new report, beginning farmers are bearing the brunt of climate change and drought, but they might also hold the key to surviving it.

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