I don't have the article in front of me (I read it at my
parents' over Thanksgiving), but I remember 2 main reactions:
1) I thought it was well done and seemed to hit all the
high points, to the point that it was a little predictable.
Were nearly all the people/issues it covered pretty familiar
to other readers of this listserv? It seemed so to me. Of
course that's not a fair criticism of a popular press article--
you've got to start somewhere, and that's what they did.
2) This is a more important point, from my perspective: the
article seemed to focus awfully much on pesticides. As I recall,
only a few paragraphs in the middle dealt with my favorite
aspect of SA: maintaining and increasing the number of farmers.
It seems to me that failure to spend more time emphasizing this
facet of SA, in favor of extensive time spent on pesticides, is
hindering progress. This is certainly true here in the Northwest,
and I gather from "Green Ideas/Red Flag" that it's been a
problem elsewhere as well. My views on this have been shaped
recently by the climate around here, which involves an extreme
amount of mistrust of SA, primarily from one production ag faction.
Many wheat growers here on the Palouse, regardless of the couple
mentioned in the Nat Geo article, have some real problems with SA,
and their fear of loss of access to pesticides seems to be at
the root of it. That and the fact that wheat is currently selling
for about $5.40 a bushel, higher than any time since 1976 :-).
In response to some press reports relating to wheat grower's
attitudes toward SA, I wrote an op-ed piece for the Capitol
Press, the local ag newspaper. I'll post it in a separate
message. Meanwhile, I was happy to see the piece in National
Geographic, and I hope it leads toward positive things for SA
and agriculture in general.
Crop & Soil Sciences
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-6420