Photo Credit: Shrimp farming in Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Mike Lusmore/Duckrabbit, 2012 via Flickr.com user WorldFish

#ForewordFriday: The Agricultural Arms Race

The Red Queen shows Alice how fast you have to run just to keep up. Drawing by John Tenniel, in the public domain. "Now, here, you see, it takes all of the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" Drawing by John Tenniel, in the public domain.

Farmers and agricultural businesses are always looking for ways to increase how much food they can get out of a set amount of land. Unfortunately, they're fighting one of the most powerful forces on the planet: evolution. Whether it's bugs that want to eat crops or weeds that want to displace them, evolution selects the individuals that are best at undermining agricultural yields. Farmers fight back with pesticides and poisons, but as Andy Dyer shows in his new book, Chasing the Red Queen, these poisons are just another pressure to drive selection. He draws on biology's Red Queen Hypothesis to show why the future of agriculture relies on recognizing that we are racing just to stay in place--and thinking outside of the chemical box.