The Natural Law Party has identified solutions to the problems faced by U.S.
1. Given the far-reaching ecological and health impacts of genetic
engineering, a moratorium should be imposed on the release of genetically
engineered organisms until the safety of such organisms can be firmly
established. In addition, to protect the public's right to know, labeling of
genetically engineered foods should be mandatory.
2. Farm policies should be redirected to expand opportunities for new and
existing farmers to prosper using sustainable systems that will enhance the
health of the farmers and the population as a whole. Training and
apprenticeship programs, loans, grants, and other incentives should be devised
to assist conventional and entry-level farmers to adopt organic or more
sustainable systems. Demonstration farms, farmer-to-farmer networks and field
tours, and studies of successful alternative farming systems should be used to
hasten the adoption of more sustainable practices.
3. Many policy makers and farm leaders favor subsidy programs keyed to the
income of the farmer, rather than the price of the crop--programs that reward,
rather than penalize, resource-conserving, nonpolluting practices. For
example, "revenue assurance" programs, "decoupled" from commodity prices and
production levels, would guarantee adequate farm incomes while reducing total
program costs and minimizing the impact of government programs on commodity
prices . Farmers would gain more flexibility to choose what to plant,
where, and when. They will be freer to rotate crops and adopt other techniques
that better conserve soil and water. Transitional subsidy programs of this
type will help transfer financial and administrative responsibility to the
private sector (e.g., the insurance industry) as soon as possible.
4. The U.S. should change its policy focus from "cheap food for the consumer"
to "quality food for the consumer on a sustainable basis." Through research
and education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is in a unique position to
influence (a) practices of farmers and the food-production industry, and (b)
the food choices and demands of consumers:
(a) Field-tested techniques supported by scientific research, such as
integrated pest management, integrated crop management, and organic farming,
already exist for farming profitably on a chemical-free, sustainable basis
. On this basis, agrichemical use could be reduced 50% by the year 2000.
The USDA should initiate and fund research into further development of
alternative and chemical-free sustainable agricultural practices, with an
emphasis on the development of systems and technologies that can be integrated
economically and completely into all agricultural production. In addition,
economists have developed accounting techniques that incorporate the costs of
pollution and natural-resource depletion into agriculture's balance sheet
. Government legislation should make it a priority to disseminate these
practices and techniques to the entire food production industry, showing
farmers, producers, and consumers that sustainable food production practices
are more cost-effective in the long run.
(b) Consumer demand drives agricultural supply. Changes in consumer
preferences will create a shift toward less resource-intensive food production
and a healthier food suppl y. The USDA should initiate and fund research
investigating the impact of dietary change on health and longevity, and then
launch campaigns to educate the public. For example, government should fund
vigorous programs to inform consumers that chemical-free food is possible now,
at a reasonable price. Moreover, scientists have recently concluded that
substantial public health and environmental benefits would likely result from
more widespread use of vegetables, fruit, and plant-based protein in the diet
. The government should educate the public about the health and
environmental value of these foods in the diet.
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