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.

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5:45pm

Thu July 31, 2014
The Salt

When China Spurns GMO Corn Imports, American Farmers Lose Billions

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 12:39 pm

A corn purchaser writes on his account in northwest China in 2012. In November 2013, officials began rejecting imports of U.S. corn when they detected traces of a new gene not yet approved in China.
Peng Zhaozhi Xinhua/Landov

For a while there, China was the American farmer's best friend. The world's most populous nation had so many pigs and chickens to feed, it became one of the top importers of U.S. corn and soybeans almost overnight.

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5:44pm

Wed July 30, 2014
The Salt

Moldova's Winemakers Seize Upon Region's Geopolitical Moment

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 7:33 pm

A glass is filled with Moldovan wine at a wine fair in Belgium in 2013.
Yves Logghe AP

Consider, for a moment, the misfortunes of winemakers in Moldova, a former Soviet republic in southeastern Europe, tucked in between Ukraine and Romania.

Their country is the poorest in Europe, with a per capita GDP about the same as Honduras. They'd love to sell their product — which has gotten approving nods from foreign critics -- in wealthier countries. But most of those customers don't even know that Moldova exists, let alone that its winemaking tradition goes back thousands of years.

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6:20am

Wed July 30, 2014
The Salt

Farming The Bluefin Tuna, Tiger Of The Ocean, Is Not Without A Price

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 3:21 pm

Yonathan Zohar, Jorge Gomezjurado and Odi Zmora check on bluefin tuna larvae in tanks at the University of Maryland Baltimore County's Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.
Courtesy of Yonathan Zohar

In a windowless laboratory in downtown Baltimore, some tiny, translucent fish larvae are swimming about in glass-walled tanks.

They are infant bluefin tuna. Scientists in this laboratory are trying to grasp what they call the holy grail of aquaculture: raising this powerful fish, so prized by sushi lovers, entirely in captivity. But the effort is fraught with challenges.

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6:15pm

Wed July 23, 2014
The Salt

Can You Trust That Organic Label On Imported Food?

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 6:12 am

Investigators at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have discovered cases of organic fraud abroad as well as in the U.S. In 2013, 19 farmers or food companies were fined a total of $87,000 for misusing the organic label.
Mark Andersen Rubberball/Corbi

Maybe you've wondered, while looking at the price tag on some organic produce, whether that label is telling the truth.

Peter Laufer, a writer and professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, doesn't just wonder. He's an outright skeptic, especially because the organic label seems to him like a license to raise prices. And also because those products are arriving through supply chains that stretch to far corners of the world.

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5:35pm

Wed July 9, 2014
The Salt

Is Foster Farms A Food Safety Pioneer Or A Persistent Offender?

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 7:19 pm

Foster Farms set up new procedures to deal with salmonella contamination after the USDA threatened to shut down its plants last fall.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Foster Farms, a chicken producer in California, just can't seem to stop bleeding bad news.

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10:34am

Tue July 8, 2014
The Salt

Globe-Trotting GMO Bananas Arrive For Their First Test In Iowa

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 6:53 pm

Ugandan researcher Stephen Buah and Professor James Dale hold bananas bred to be rich in vitamin A at Queensland University of Technology.
Erika Fish Courtesy of Queensland University of Technology

Somewhere in Iowa, volunteers are earning $900 apiece by providing blood samples after eating bits of a banana kissed with a curious tinge of orange.

It's the first human trial of a banana that's been genetically engineered to contain higher levels of beta carotene, the nutrient that our body converts into vitamin A. Researchers want to confirm that eating the fruit does, in fact, lead to higher vitamin A levels in the volunteers' blood.

The volunteers in Iowa may not realize it, but they're playing a small part in a story that spans the globe.

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5:37pm

Wed July 2, 2014
The Salt

Big Bucks From Strawberry Genes Lead To Conflict At UC Davis

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 6:26 pm

Yesterday, we reported on a legal tussle over control of the country's top center of strawberry breeding, at the University of California, Davis. But there's a backstory to that battle. It involves the peculiar nature of the UC Davis strawberry program.

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5:40pm

Tue July 1, 2014
The Salt

Breeding Battle Threatens Key Source Of California Strawberries

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 11:48 pm

In California, a legal skirmish has erupted over strawberries — or rather, over strawberry breeding.

To be absolutely precise, the battle is about strawberry breeding at the University of California, Davis. This is more important than it might sound. More than half of all strawberries in the supermarket trace their ancestry to breeding plots at UC Davis.

The strawberry breeders at UC Davis, who've led that program for decades, are leaving the university to carry on their work at a new private company.

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5:49pm

Tue June 24, 2014
The Salt

'Natural' Food Sounds Good But Doesn't Mean Much

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 9:50 am

Advocates say consumers may assume that the "natural" label is the same as "organic."
iStockphoto

Some people have had it with "natural" food.

For fifteen years, Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports, has been pointing out that "natural" is just about the most misleading label that you'll ever see on a food package. Yet consumers still look for that word, food companies still love to use it and the Food and Drug Administration can't or won't define it.

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4:26pm

Fri June 20, 2014
The Salt

From Organic Pioneers, Son Inherits Passion, Just Not For Farming

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 12:00 pm

Writer Arlo Crawford (left) with his father, Jim Crawford, an elder statesman of the organic farming movement who dropped out of law school in 1972 to grow vegetables.
Melanie McLean/Courtesy of Henry Holt and Co.

If you're a listener, you may recognize the name New Morning Farm.

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