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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The Salt
2:24 am
Tue August 21, 2012

How A Biofuel Dream Called Jatropha Came Crashing Down

A man harvests fruits of the Jatropha tree in Taabo, Ivory Coast. Jatropha, which is grown in many parts of the world, has fallen from favor as a diesel fuel substitute.
Kambou Sia AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 9:37 am

From Congress to The Colbert Report, people are talking about the Midwestern drought and debating whether it makes sense to convert the country's shrinking corn supplies into ethanol to power our cars.

It's the latest installment of the long-running food vs. fuel battle.

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The Salt
2:34 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Saving Lives In Africa With The Humble Sweet Potato

Sweet potato evangelist Maria Isabel Andrade from the International Potato Center drives around Mozambique in her orange Toyota Land Cruiser.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 10:26 am

A regular old orange-colored sweet potato might not seem too exciting to many of us.

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The Salt
2:54 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Secret Side Of The Drought: Many Corn Farmers Will Benefit

President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (second from right) inspect drought-damaged corn on the McIntosh farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 10:28 am

You've all heard a lot about this year's devastating drought in the Midwest, right? The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last Friday that the average U.S. cornfield this year will yield less per acre than it has since 1995. Soybean yields are down, too.

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The Salt
1:23 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Here's Where Farms Are Sucking The Planet Dry

Check out some of the world's most important - and threatened - aquifers. Click to see a high-resolution version of this map.
Nature

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 4:49 pm

This map is disturbing, once you understand it. It's a new attempt to visualize an old problem — the shrinking of underground water reserves, in most cases because farmers are pumping out water to irrigate their crops.

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The Salt
3:39 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Extreme Makeover, Potato Edition

Jane Greenhalgh NPR

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 10:12 am

The sizzle seems to be gone from America's long-term relationship with the potato. Consumers are eating fewer of them, especially the kind that's not fried in a vat of hot oil. But what if a new and different potato arrived in town? A stylish one, with colorful flesh that was good for you, too?

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Environment
6:28 am
Thu July 26, 2012

In Drought-Stricken Midwest, It's Fodder Vs. Fuel

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 9:35 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

In the Midwest, the drought is doing a number on the nation's biggest agricultural crop, corn. The USDA says half of the country's cornfields are in poor or very poor condition, and the short supply is driving up the price. Now, a fight between livestock farmers and ethanol producers over the high priced corn crop. Farmers say ethanol factories have an unfair advantage.

NPR's Dan Charles reports.

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The Salt
2:55 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

Meat Producers And, Ultimately, Consumers Hurt By Drought

These piglets on the Hardin farm in Danville, Ind., are going to cost more to feed than they will fetch at market.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 5:13 pm

Despite headlines about the crushing drought that's afflicting much of the country's prime agricultural land, the USDA isn't expecting any dramatic increases in the price of food this year or next.

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The Salt
4:19 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

As Drought Kills Corn, Farmers Fight Over Ethanol

Stunted corn grows in a field next to a cattle feed lot in rural Springfield, Omaha, Neb.
Nati Harnik AP

We often talk about the "farm lobby" as though farmers spoke with a unified voice. And it's true, they usually try to.

But an unusually bitter and public fight is breaking out right now between the farmers who grow corn and other farmers who need to buy that corn.

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Food
3:50 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Mozambique Farmland Is Prize In Land Grab Fever

Young boys thresh soybeans by hand in Ruasse.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 2:37 pm

First of a two-part series. Read part 2.

In these days of financial uncertainty, the hot new investment tip is farmland.

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The Salt
1:24 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

FDA Launches Voluntary Plan To Reduce Use Of Antibiotics In Animals

The FDA's latest effort to end the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animals is getting mixed reviews from activists.
Rob Carr AP

Originally published on Thu April 12, 2012 5:38 am

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said today it is calling on the nation's pork, beef, and poultry producers to reduce their use of antibiotics. But some watchdog groups say this voluntary guidance doesn't go nearly far enough.

The issue has been contentious for decades. Just last month, a federal judge ruled that the FDA had to go ahead with a plan it proposed in 1977 that would ban the use of some antibiotics as a growth promoter in animals.

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