On 4/30/96, you sent me and sanet-mg a copy of your message to Ronald Nigh
of the Dana Foundation who had flamed two sentences in my 6 paragraph post
(04/23) to the IAF re Small Farmer Sust. Ag Economics. Your message read:
>Thanks for saying it, Ron.
I'm puzzled as to why you felt it necessary to do this. Did you read my
4/29 post to Sanet and to Ronald apologizing for my poor choice of words and
for unintentionally stirring up the organic/sustainable debate? Believe
me, I agree totally with you and Ron that destructive non-chemical
techniques like slash and burn agriculture are not organic techniques. In
fact, that's why my original post referred to these practices as "organic"
(in quotes to infer pseudo-organic) instead of bonafide organic. In
hindsight, I can see how it gave the wrong impression, and I regret it.
I'm not involved in U.S. agriculture and didn't realize how easy it is to
unintentionally stir up sensitivitivies re the organic-sustainable issue. My
entire consulting work in hillside-farming systems and agro-nutrition
involves 3rd World limited-resource small-farmers re improving farm
diversity, productivity, and resource conservation with sustainable
techniques as well as food security and child survival. Sanet-mg posts
don't often address 3rd World ag, so I suppose I responded too hastily to
the IAF query and should have chosen my words more carefully.
Anyway, if you didn't read my apology posted yesterday, I've included it
below along with Ron's flame.
>Date: Sun, 28 Apr 1996 20:05:55
>From: David Leonard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Re: Small-farmer Sust. Agric. Economics-HONDURAS
>>Date: Sun, 28 Apr 1996 20:02:26
>>From: David Leonard <email@example.com>
>>Subject: Re: Small-farmer Sust. Agric. Economics-HONDURAS
>>In a message dated 96-04-23 16:53:19 EDT, David Leonard wrote:
>>>For example, many campesino farmers in Central America continue using
>traditional "organic", non-chemical methods that are very ecologically
>destructive. Soil erosion and degradation are markedly accelerated by
>"organic" practices like slash andburn without adequate fallow periods,
>non-contour planting, severe overgrazing, and deforestation.
>>At 02:44 PM 4/28/96 -0400, Ronald Nigh responded:
>>>>I hate to be a pill, but these techniques do not meet any organic standards
>>>>in any country and would never be certified as such. It very much confuses
>>>>the discussion on "organic-sustainable agriculture" to mislabel these
>>>>techniques (results of the agriculture of poverty and social inequality) as
>>>>"organic" and then claim that "organic" is not sustainable.
>>David Leonard responds:
>>I do agree with you and apologize for unintentionally stirring up and
further confusing the "organic" vrs. "sustainable" semantic debate. I
obviously didn't get my real point across. However, I think you may have
magnified any misinterpetation by snipping off most of the paragraph from
which those 2 "offending" sentences came.
>>My comments were actually referring to the Inter-American Foundation's
request for micro-economic documentation on 2 types of small-farmer ag
systems in Latin America:
>>1. Organic/sustainable models
>>2. High-input "Green Revolution" models
>>My intent was to suggest that the IAF's comparison analysis should be
broadened to also include traditional peasant farming systems. For example,
slash-and-burn farming is still widely used in some countries like Honduras
but is no longer ecologically sustainable where demographic pressures and
socio-economic injustices have combined to shorten the fallow period below
the critical limit for sustainability.
>>Consultant in hillside farming systems and agro-nutrition