Underground Farming

The promise of genetically modified crops, from higher yields of foodstuff with less acreage planted and fewer pesticides, to drugs and other products literally grown on the farm, is one of the most anticipated-and feared-developments of this century. One of the dangers often cited for genetically modified crops is the danger of cross pollination with natural crops. Thus, growing genetically modified crops safely can be very difficult on an ordinary farm.

The Controlled Pharming Ventures believes that it has found a solution. Using an abandoned mine in Indiana, Controlled Pharming believes that it has found the solution to growing genetically modified crops safely. As a bonus, Controlled Pharming is able to regulate conditions such as light and water to a degree impossible on a conventional farm.

Controlled Pharming is using a fifty acre facility inside a depleted limestone quarry to test their concept. In this way the facility for growing genetically modified crops is sealed off from the outside environment, thus preventing contamination. The facility is also easily isolated from outside influences that tend to damage crops of all kinds, such as insects, weeds, and disease. It is also safe from natural disasters and secure from vandalism.

Controlled Pharming claims to be able to enhance crop yields by maintaining absolute control over the environment of the crops. Factors such as lighting, water, soil composition, and temperature are rigorously controlled. Thus production of genetically modified crops can take place twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year, with a customers needs for size and composition of the crop absolutely controlled.

Because the Controlled Pharming facility is isolated from the outside environment and is rigorously controlled, regulation costs are reduced. Expensive measures that must take place to grow genetically modified crops above ground, on a conventional farm, are bypassed. This would not only benefit companies wanting to produce their own genetically modified crops, but companies with the desire to conduct research and development. Conreolled Pharming already claims experience with such generically modified crops as corn, tobacco, and tomatoes.

Another application that comes to mind for Controlled Pharmings method of growing genetically modified crops is in the area of space colonization. Earth is the only planet in the solar system where one can currently grow plants in the outside environment. On all other places beyond the Earth, such as the Moon and Mars, one would have to grow crops in a controlled environment, perhaps in underground facilities safe from the extremes of temperature, radiation, and lack of oxygen and water inherent in alien environments. Furthermore, future space colonists will likely use a lot of genetically modified crops to provide products, such as drugs and plastics, that otherwise would have to be imported from Earth.

Usually, advocates for space exploration will point out the Earthly “spin-offs” that technologies developed for the space program have yielded. Controlled Pharming’s method of growing Genetically Modified Crops may well be one of the few cases in which technology developed from an Earthly need has a “spin-off” that will benefit future space travelers.

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