During the formative stages of the LISA program, (currently called
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, SARE) however, it was a
different story, with many attacks from chemical companies the their
surrogates, as well as from reactionary elements in USDA and some (a minority
of) land grant university administrators. And this program remains in
jeopardy of becoming co-opted into "business as usual." The regional and
national leaders of the program have their work cut out for them, and they
are staying the course quite well. But the pressure is always there.
My primary motivation in keeping this issue salient stems not from what
happened to me (because by and large I fared rather well), but from a sense
of empathy for others -- especially not-yet-tenured or otherwise vulnerable
scientists and educators in universities and government.
My wish list is that (1) a good survey should be done to document the extent
of perceived discrimination against sustainable agriculture work in publicly
supported organizations, (2) compensatory incentives be provided to
overwhelm such perceptions; (The LISA and later the SARE programs were
designed to provide some of this incentive.) and (3) reform of the rewards
systems and procedures for allocation of funds, lab space, grad student
stipends, etc. This is perhaps an impossible dream, but without visions of a
better world, how can we hope to attain progress?
World Sustainable Agriculture Association