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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2:21pm

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 8:29 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?

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3:22am

Thu January 2, 2014
The Salt

How Mass-Produced Meat Turned Phosphorus Into Pollution

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 8:27 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.

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3:15pm

Tue December 31, 2013
The Salt

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

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 6:02 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.

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6:32am

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.

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3:05am

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 4:59 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.

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