Daniel Charles

Dan Charles is NPR's food and agriculture correspondent.

Primarily responsible for covering farming and the food industry, Charles focuses on the stories of culture, business, and the science behind what arrives on your dinner plate.

This is his second time working for NPR; from 1993 to 1999, Charles was a technology correspondent at NPR. He returned in 2011.

During his time away from NPR, Charles was an independent writer and radio producer and occasionally filled in at NPR on the Science and National desks, and at Weekend Edition. Over the course of his career Charles has reported on software engineers in India, fertilizer use in China, dengue fever in Peru, alternative medicine in Germany, and efforts to turn around a troubled school in Washington, DC.

In 2009-2010, he taught journalism in Ukraine through the Fulbright program. He has been guest researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, Germany, and a Knight Science Journalism fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From 1990 to 1993, Charles was a U.S. correspondent for New Scientist, a major British science magazine.

The author of two books, Charles wrote Master Mind: The Rise and Fall of Fritz Haber, The Nobel Laureate Who Launched the Age of Chemical Warfare (Ecco, 2005) and Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food (Perseus, 2001) about the making of genetically engineered crops.

Charles graduated magna cum laude from American University with a degree in economics and international affairs. After graduation Charles spent a year studying in Bonn, which was then part of West Germany, through the German Academic Exchange Service.

Pages

5:27pm

Wed January 22, 2014
The Salt

Should Farmers Give John Deere And Monsanto Their Data?

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 8:01 pm

Adam Cole NPR

Starting this year, farmers across the Midwest can sign up for a service that lets big agribusiness collect data from their farms, minute by minute, as they plant and harvest their crops.

Monsanto and John Deere are offering competing versions of this service. Both are promising to mine that data for tips that will put more money in farmers' pockets.

Read more

12:43pm

Fri January 10, 2014
The Salt

A Green-Movement Website Shakes Up The Debate Over GMOs

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:52 pm

After Grist's six-month-long series on genetically modified foods, some loyal readers accused the site of changing directions in the debate.
iStockphoto

A 26-part series on genetically modified food was not Nathanael Johnson's idea. And he didn't realize it would take six months, either.

Last year, Johnson was hired as the new food writer for Grist, a website for environmental news and opinion. Grist's editor, Scott Rosenberg, was waiting with an assignment: Dig into the controversy over GMOs.

Read more

4:21pm

Wed January 8, 2014
The Salt

This GMO Apple Won't Brown. Will That Sour The Fruit's Image?

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:29 pm

Soon after being sliced, a conventional Granny Smith apple (left) starts to brown, while a newly developed GM Granny Smith stays fresher looking.
Courtesy of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.

If you (or your children) turn up your nose at brown apple slices, would you prefer fresh-looking ones that have been genetically engineered?

Read more

5:22am

Thu January 2, 2014
The Salt

How Mass-Produced Meat Turned Phosphorus Into Pollution

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 10:27 am

A dead carp floats in water near the shore at Big Creek State Park on Sept. 10 in Polk City, Iowa. Like many agricultural states, Iowa is working with the EPA to enforce clean-water regulations amid degradation from manure spills and farm-field runoff.
Charlie Neibergall AP

It's a quandary of food production: The same drive for efficiency that lowers the cost of eating also can damage our soil and water.

Take the case of one simple, essential chemical element: phosphorus.

Read more

6:07pm

Tue December 31, 2013
The Salt

Here's How Young Farmers Looking For Land Are Getting Creative

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 8:02 pm

Chris and Sara Guerre are among a growing number of farmers who have made the choice to rent land to farm instead of buy because of increasing property values.
Zac Visco for NPR

Across the country, there's a wave of interest in local food. And a new generation of young farmers is trying to grow it.

Many of these farmers — many of whom didn't grow up on farms — would like to stay close to cities. After all, that's where the demand for local food is.

The problem is, that's where land is most expensive. So young farmers looking for affordable land are forced to get creative.

Read more

8:32am

Tue December 24, 2013
The Salt

Top German Chocolate Maker Fights For Its 'Natural' Reputation

If you're selling food in Germany, "natural" is good. It's a place that distrusts technological manipulation of what we eat.

Witness, for example, a 500-year-old law that allows beer-makers to use only three ingredients: water, barley and hops. The law has since been loosened slightly, but many brewers continue to abide by it for marketing reasons.

Read more

5:05am

Sun December 22, 2013
The Salt

Grasslands Get Squeezed As Another 1.6 Million Acres Go Into Crops

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 6:59 pm

Retired farmer Joe Govert looks at a parcel of family land near Tribune, Kan. It has been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.
Charlie Riedel AP

As the year winds down, we here at NPR are looking at a few key numbers that explain the big trends of 2013.

Today's number: 1.6 million.

That's 1.6 million acres — about the area of the state of Delaware.

That's how much land was removed this year from the federal Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, which pays farmers to keep land covered with native grasses or sometimes trees. Most of that land now will produce crops like corn or wheat.

Read more

5:31pm

Fri December 13, 2013
The Salt

Call the FBI! China Is Trying To Steal America's Seeds!

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 7:54 pm

Seed corn sits in the hopper of a planter.
Scott Olson Getty Images

If you think grains of rice or kernels of corn are free gifts of nature, think again. Seed companies — and the FBI — take a very different attitude, and walking off with the wrong seeds can land you in very serious trouble indeed.

In two apparently unrelated cases this week, federal prosecutors arrested citizens of China and charged them with stealing seeds that American companies consider valuable intellectual property.

Read more

5:23pm

Wed December 11, 2013
The Salt

Drug Companies Accept FDA Plan To Phase Out Some Animal Antibiotic Uses

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:07 pm

Young broilers nibble feed at a chicken farm in Luling, Texas. The Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidance on how drug companies label antibiotics for livestock.
Bob Nichols USDA/Flickr

If drug companies follow guidance issued Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration, within three years it will be illegal to use medically important antibiotics to make farm animals grow faster or use feed more efficiently.

The FDA's announcement wasn't a big surprise; a draft version of the strategy was released more than a year ago.

Read more

1:46pm

Sat November 23, 2013
The Salt

Pepsi Pressured To Fight Big Sugar's 'Land Grab'

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 12:15 pm

Tractors sit on a sugarcane plantation on the land of a Guarani-kaiowá indigenous community in Brazil.
Tatiana Cardeal Courtesy Oxfam

The anti-poverty group Oxfam is asking Pepsi's shareholders to approve a resolution that, if passed, would force the company to disclose its sugar suppliers and investigate whether those suppliers are implicated in "land grabs" that unfairly take land from the poor.

Read more

Pages