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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4:46pm

Fri March 29, 2013
Science

'Biotech Rider' In Budget Angers Opponents Of Genetically-Modified Crops

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 7:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Tucked away inside the new federal budget for this year - which President Obama signed yesterday - is one, small paragraph dealing with genetically engineered crops. That paragraph - actually, one long, complicated sentence - has the biotech industry smiling. But opponents of biotech crops are hopping mad. They say this biotech rider, as they call it, is a blatant attempt to shield biotech crops from all judicial oversight.

Joining me now to talk about this is NPR's Dan Charles. Welcome, Dan.

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6:08pm

Mon March 25, 2013
The Salt

Are Agriculture's Most Popular Insecticides Killing Our Bees?

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 10:42 am

Workers clear honey from dead beehives at a bee farm east of Merced, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

Environmentalists and beekeepers are calling on the government to ban some of the country's most widely used insect-killing chemicals.

The pesticides, called neonicotinoids, became popular among farmers during the 1990s. They're used to coat the seeds of many agricultural crops, including the biggest crop of all: corn. Neonics, as they're called, protect those crops from insect pests.

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11:24am

Fri March 8, 2013
The Salt

Nation's Biggest Honey Packer Admits 'Laundering' Chinese Honey

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 11:59 am

A Chinese farmer tends to bees producing honey to supplement her income at a farm in China's Anhui province.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

There was bombshell news from the world of honey two weeks ago, and somehow we missed it. Two big honey packers, including one of the largest in the country — Groeb Farms of Onsted, Mich. — admitted buying millions of dollars worth of honey that was falsely labeled.

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2:59am

Thu March 7, 2013
The Salt

In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:44 am

Genetically modified to be enriched with beta-carotene, golden rice grains (left) are a deep yellow. At right, white rice grains.
Isagani Serrano International Rice Research Institute

There's a kind of rice growing in some test plots in the Philippines that's unlike any rice ever seen before. It's yellow. Its backers call it "golden rice." It's been genetically modified so that it contains beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A.

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2:58am

Fri March 1, 2013
The Salt

Wild Bees Are Good For Crops, But Crops Are Bad For Bees

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 12:13 pm

Wild bees, such as this Andrena bee visiting highbush blueberry flowers, play a key role in boosting crop yields.
Left photo by Rufus Isaac/AAAS; Right photo courtesy of Daniel M.N. Turner

Some of the most healthful foods you can think of — blueberries, cranberries, apples, almonds and squash — would never get to your plate without the help of insects. No insects, no pollination. No pollination, no fruit.

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8:09am

Tue February 26, 2013
The Salt

Oxfam Gives Big Food Companies Bad Behavior Grades

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 9:42 am

Oxfam's "report card" evaluates giants of the supermarket aisle on their commitment to social and environmental issues.
iStockphoto.com

Do failing grades inspire more effort? Oxfam hopes so. The activist group on behalf of the poor has just handed out report cards to 10 of the world's top food companies, grading their commitments to protect the environment and treat people fairly.

Oxfam doesn't grade on the curve, evidently. Every company flunked. But two European-based companies, Nestle and Unilever, were at least better than the others.

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1:42pm

Fri February 22, 2013
The Salt

Despite Lingering Drought, USDA Predicts A Flood Of Grain

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 2:51 pm

Economists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gazing into their crystal ball, see American farmers planting and harvesting huge amounts of corn, soybeans, and wheat this year. They're predicting a record harvest of corn: 14 billion bushels, up nearly 40 percent over last year's drought-crippled level.

With supply up, prices will fall. The USDA thinks that the price of the average bushel of corn could fall by a third. And soybean production and price are expected to follow a similar track.

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2:29pm

Thu February 21, 2013
The Salt

Former Peanut Firm Executives Indicted Over 2009 Salmonella Outbreak

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 10:26 am

A sign outside the Peanut Corp. of America's processing plant in Blakely, Ga.
Ric Feld AP

Four former executives from Peanut Corp. of America and a related company are facing federal criminal charges for covering up information that their peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella bacteria.

The charges are related to a nationwide outbreak of salmonella back in 2009. More than 700 people became ill, and federal investigators traced the source of the bacteria to peanut butter manufactured in Blakely, Ga., by the Peanut Corp. of America. The company is no longer in business.

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10:58am

Tue February 19, 2013
The Salt

Pictures Don't Lie: Corn And Soybeans Are Conquering U.S. Grasslands

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 1:56 pm

A corn field is shrouded in mist at sunrise in rural Springfield, Neb.
Nati Harnik AP

For years, I've been hearing stories about the changing agricultural landscape of the northern plains. Grasslands are disappearing, farmers told me. They're being replaced by fields of corn and soybeans.

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4:28am

Mon February 18, 2013
The Salt

Farmer's Fight With Monsanto Reaches The Supreme Court

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 8:35 pm

Vernon Hugh Bowman lives outside the small town of Sandborn, Ind.
Dan Charles NPR

This week, the Supreme Court will take up a classic David-and-Goliath case. On one side, there's a 75-year-old farmer in Indiana named Vernon Hugh Bowman; on the other, the agribusiness giant Monsanto.

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