Your observations are very timely and to the point. Dale used the industry
arguments that agricultural products may be "improved" by genetic
manipulation so that fruits may be designed to carry certain medications;
grains will be designed to have particular nutritional compositions; etc.
Does this approach strike anyone else as back-asswards? Is not the bounty of
nature enough to suit our needs? Have we not co-evolved with the plants and
animals that share this planet with us? Even the Avery-esque arguments about
increasing yields with intensive chemical production techniques fail when
you consider that hunger is such a political phenomenon, a result of
mis-distribution rather than low production.
The blinders that result in tunnel vision are firmly in place in many
sectors of society, and agriculture is certainly no exception. Yes, friends,
we have a *universe* of alternatives if only we would allow ourselves to see
them. How about using an ecological approach, working with the cycles of
nature, the complex dynamics of soil, and the miraculous natural
capabilities of plants to attempt to improve the nutritional value of our
food and feed by utilizing what is already there? Sir Albert Howard was
advocating such a holistic approach 50 years ago or more.
The simple answer is that the profit potential from this approach is very
limited as it relies not on chemical or biotechnological inputs but on
intensive system management, therefore industry would not be very interested
But what is really important: profit or authentically feeding and nourishing
the world? Learning how apathetic the majority of American consumers are
compared to their European counterparts is discouraging. Without external
pressure from consumers, industry is free to set the terms of discussion and
sell the illusion that maximizing control of natural processes is equivalent
to maximizing human benefit. I dispute this equation.
>We are so slow to learn.
>Thirteen years later, Rachel Carson had quite cogently outlined the
>degree to which Pickett had been correct. Nevertheless, almost 40 years
>after Carson's work the devastation continues, as we apply (in the USA
>alone) nearly 500 million kg of active material, over 99% of which
>misses the target organism, while overall percentage losses of crop to
>disease, insects, and weeds is actually *higher* that it was in the
You are right on, Bart. Thanks for sharing the fruits of your knowledge.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln alternative crops research technician
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society western organizer
High Plains Ag Lab
3257 Rd. 109
Sidney, NE 69162
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