Posts Tagged ‘food production’

Pierce Institute Hosts Educational Forum on Sustainable Agriculture

Dave Dornbos

Food sources and how food is produced have become important topics of discussion and consideration for many. Whether or not the food is produced organically, is spray free, or is a genetically modified organism (GMO) provides information to consumers, but it can be difficult to determine what this means for someone’s health or for the environment.

To help local leaders and residents understand these and other issues related to the sustainability of modern agriculture, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute will be offering another program in its Environmental Leaders Discussion Series entitled “Is Sustainable Agriculture Sustainable?”  The program, to be held on Thursday, June 18 from 7 – 8:30 pm, will be led by Dr. David Dornbos of Calvin College. Dr. Dornbos has worked as a scientist in the agriculture industry, helping to develop new varieties of crops. Now a professor at Calvin College, he teaches plant biology, leads classes on sustainable agriculture, and conducts research with a focus on non-native, invasive plants.

According to Program Manager Matt Dykstra, “How food is produced and what that really means is something that affects everyone. The format of the program is informal and will allow participants to ask questions and hopefully come away with a better understanding of all aspects of modern agriculture and what that means to humans and the environment.”

Modern agriculture has brought many advances. More food is produced at a cheaper price than ever before. Scientists have used modern technology to produce plants that can produce their own herbicides, preventing the need for them to be broadcast with pesticides. Certain herbicides and GMO crops have made it possible for farmers to plant while minimally tilling the soil thereby reducing run-off, decreasing erosion and compaction, and maintaining nutrients onsite.

With these advances have come downsides; according to the Xerxes society, since the 1990s the monarch butterfly population has decreased by 80% due to the reduction of their habitat and new classes of pesticides. Historically, monarchs used milkweeds that were commonly found as a weed in agricultural fields. With more effective herbicides and new classes of insecticides, much of their previous habitat is now gone.

“Is Sustainable Agriculture Sustainable?” is free for Institute members; non-members are $5. Refreshments will be served. Participants may register at or by calling 269-721-4190. Pierce Cedar Creek Institute is located south of Hastings at 701 W. Cloverdale Rd., 2.5 miles west of M-37 and 4.5 miles east of M-43.