Even when he's lecturing you over the phone about the effect of the hydrological cycle on soybean yields in Brazil's Amazon Basin, Wes Jackson sounds like a cowboy storyteller with a slight drawl. His campfire tales, however, are historically minded and deeply academic: he can take you from Brazil back to his native Kansas with the deft phrase, "Let's go back to the Bronze Age for a minute."
Jackson talks a lot about "the 10,000-year-old problem," the problem of how we grow our food. The solution may exist at the Land Institute, where Jackson leads research into new agricultural practices that combine earth-conscious farming practices with whiz-bang new plant breeds and genetic technologies. Here, he talks about perennials, the end of fossil fuels, and the very worst kind of fundamentalism.
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