- Biofuels,Biotechnology,Blog,Organic Food & Farming
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009, 3:07 PM
As the new year turned, and Obama’s transition team developed their plan for the agriculture team, George McGovern and Marshall Matz, both now on the board of the World Food Program, weighed in with an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, parroting many of the claims about industrial ag and its pseudo-benefits we’ve been hearing (and debunking) for years.
read their op-ed here and my response below. While my letter to the editor didn’t make it into print, one by George Naylor from the National Family Farming Coalition did.
Thank you for your coverage of the Agriculture Secretary nominee (“Agriculture’s next big challenge” January 4, 2009), but the authors mislead your readers about the real costs of the “commercial agriculture” they claim the new Secretary should celebrate.
Industrial agriculture will lessen–not improve–our ability to feed ourselves and foster sustainable rural communities, especially in the face of a climate unstable future. Organic agriculture, on the other hand, is proving to foster more resilient crops and to sequester greater levels of carbon in the soil.
The authors also claim that industrial agriculture is “key in our becoming less dependent on foreign oil,” while in reality this system of farming does the opposite: Because industrial agriculture is addicted to manmade fertilizers, which require significant natural gas to produce, we are increasingly dependent on imports from countries with natural gas reserves. Organic agriculture, on the other hand, releases us from our foreign oil dependence in the food sector by eliminating our addiction to petroleum-based chemicals and manmade fertilizer.
Finally, the authors perpetuate the myth that organic agriculture cannot feed the world, when new research, including a multi-year study from the University of Michigan, has shown that shifting toward organic agriculture can actually increase yields overall, while creating auxiliary benefits like cleaner water and safer fields for our farm workers and farmers.