Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us

Could Organic Farming Threaten Our Food Supply?

• August 08, 2011 • 9:30 AM

Pest ecologist Scott Merrill discusses the bizarre adaptions of insects who feast on our crops, and how some organic farming practices may make life easier for them.

Untold numbers of species are threatened by extinction due to people.

Yet, a class of animals is thriving, despite humans’ best efforts to wipe them out: agricultural insect pests. And these pests pose a serious threat to global food supplies. Insects like the desert locust and the Russian wheat aphid can very quickly destroy the farm production from vast areas.

What is it about the biology of these animals that allows them to survive whatever people can throw at them? In this podcast, Dr. Scott Merrill discusses the often bizarre adaptations of insect pests, like the Russian wheat aphid, which is already pregnant when it is born.

Merrill, a pest ecologist at Colorado State University, also addresses what stands in the way of staying one step ahead of agricultural pests. Surprisingly, organic agriculture is near the top of the list. Organic practices potentially allow agricultural pests to build resistance to a range of control strategies, threatening the future of the food supply.

Click to hear podcast

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Music used in the podcast includes Bring It On No Vox by Jamie Miller and David Matheson; and Ana by His Boy Elroy.


Jai Ranganathan
Dr. Jai Ranganathan is a biologist and his research focuses on questions of species conservation. He can be reached at jai.ranganathan at

More From Jai Ranganathan

Tags: , ,

If you would like to comment on this post, or anything else on Pacific Standard, visit our Facebook or Google+ page, or send us a message on Twitter. You can also follow our regular updates and other stories on both LinkedIn and Tumblr.

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and, delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow us

Subscribe Now

Quick Studies

How Junk Food Companies Manipulate Your Tongue

We mistakenly think that harder foods contain fewer calories, and those mistakes can affect our belt sizes.

What Steve Jobs’ Death Teaches Us About Public Health

Studies have shown that when public figures die from disease, the public takes notice. New research suggests this could be the key to reaching those who are most at risk.

Speed-Reading Apps Will Not Revolutionize Anything, Except Your Understanding

The one-word-at-a-time presentation eliminates the eye movements that help you comprehend what you're reading.

To Make Friends, Autistic Kids Need Advice—and Space

Kids with autism need help when it comes to making friends—but they also need their independence.

Gaming the Wedding Gift Registry System

Registering for your wedding? Keep your must-have items away from the average price of your registry—they’re unlikely to be purchased.

The Big One

One state—Pennsylvania—logs 52 percent of all sales, shipments, and receipts for the chocolate manufacturing industry. March/April 2014