I read your posting about Dennis Avery's comments regarding "High-yield"
farming, and can answer some of your questions.
I do not know exactly who Mr. Avery is, other than his present
affiliation, and his past positions mentioned in your post (which helps to
explain why high chemical input farming is the predominant method still used
today). However, I can tell you a bit about the Hudson Institute:
Although it is not identified as such in the sources I consulted, I know
from past readings that it is a conservative organzation. According to
the Encyclopedia of Associations and the Research Centers Directory, the
Hudson Institute is a non-profit think tank whose members are selected
from government, academia, and business/industry. They study public policy
issues, including national security (warfare), international and domestic
economics, education and employment, energy and technology, and future
studies. Funding comes from government agencies(not identified - I find
this rather inappropriate - why is the government financing such
activities?), private business, foundations, associations, and individuals
- all unidentified - I myself am curious about who these supporters are.
I could not find the Center for Global Food Issues in either directory
(both current, by the way), and it was not mentioned as an affiliate in the
If you are interested in contacting the Institute:
The Hudson Institute
Herman Kahn Center
5395 Emerson Way, Indianapolis, IN 46226
As for studies refuting Avery's seemingly preposterous claims, I happened
to have a copy of an excellent article from 1992 sitting on my desk,
entitled "Environmental and Economic Costs of Pesticide Use" by David
Pimental, Prof. of insect ecology and ag. sciences, and several graduate
students, at Cornell. It was published in BIOSCIENCE, Vol. 42, No. 10.
Here is some of what they have to say: (capitalization is my own)
"Despite the widespread use of pesticides in the United States,
pests(principally insects, plant pathogens, and weeds), destroy 37% of all
potential food and fiber crops. Although pesticides are generally
profitable, their use does not always decrease crop losses. For example,
even with the TENFOLD increase in insecticide use in the United states
from 1945 to 1989, total crop losses from insect damage have nearly
DOUBLED from 7% to 13%. This rise in crop losses to insects is, in part,
caused by changes in agricultural practices. For instance, the
replacement of rotating corn with other crops with the continuous
production on approximately half the hectarage has resulted in nearly a
fourfold increase in corn losses to insects, despite a THOUSAND FOLD
INCREASE in insecticide use in corn production."
* "Most benefits of pesticides are based only on direct crop returns.
Such assessments do not include the INDIRECT environmental and economic
costs associated with pesticides. To facilitate the development and
implementation of a balanced, sound policy of pesticide use, these costs
must be examined."
"A recent WHO and United Nations Environmental Programme report (1989)
estimated there are 1 million human pesticide poisonings each year in the
world, with approximately 20,000 deaths. In the United States, nonfatal
pesticide poisonings reported by the American Association of Poison
Control Centers total approximately 67,000 each year."
The article goes on to discuss specific areas of negative pesticide
impacts, including: animal poisonings and contaminated animal food
products; destruction of beneficial natural predators and parasites;
pesticide resistance in pests; bee poisonings and reduced pollination;
crop losses resulting from the pesticides themselves; costs of government
funding for pesticide-pollution control (estimated to be about $200
million per year for both state and federal govts. combined).
The authors conclude that:
" Based on the available data, the environmental and social costs of
pesticide use total approximately $8 billion each year. Users of
pesticides in agriculture pay directly for only approximately $3 billion
of this cost, which includes problems arising from pesticide resistance and
destruction of natural enemies. Society eventually pays this $3 billion
plus the remaining $5 billion in environmental and public health costs."
If you get any other info. regarding the funding sources for the Hudson
Institute, I would be interested in seeing it.
Natl. Ag. Library (*note: comments above do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of USDA)