On Wednesday, May 12, 1999 11:44 PM, Harold Reetz [SMTP:email@example.com]
>Comments such as the importance of
> "values" in addition to science....implying that the progress we have
> in agriculture has been at the expense of values.
I for one, do not think that the progress we have made has been at the
expense of values, but that in many cases, the values that drove the
progress were not those that helped the farmer, but those that helped the
input dealers, the food processors, the universities' research budgets, and
the food marketers.
> Agriculture has changed and will never be the same as we remember in the
> "good old days", but the cause/effect relationship is not nearly so much
> result of technology as it is our nations desire to have cheap, abundant
> healthy food.
And this has come at the expense of the farmers, who we in extension, claim
to be serving. Seeing what this policy of cheap food has done for farmers
and rural areas, our clients, should we not reject it and look for
alternatives? That is what this list is all about in my mind.
We use technology to accomplish that better than any other
> nation in the world. Our success makes it possible for 98% of our
> population to NOT live on the farm and grow their own food. Were it not
> the science and technology and the large-scale intensive production
> we have implemented over the past 50+ years, more people would be forced
> into growing food and thus would have less time to attack those who do
What if we had stopped losing farmers in 1970? Do you think that all those
farmers forced off the farm since then would mind being forced to grow food
again? Might not we have said enough is enough back then, and started to
try to find ways to keep farmers on the land. At the rate we are going now
there will be only 1% of the population farming in a few years, and I
suppose some people will call that progress. But here in this part of
Nebraska, there are farmers desperately trying to find ways to avoid
becoming part of those statistics and who would not mind growing food for
as long as they are able.
> I am proud of the progress we have made in attacking pest and disease
> problems with reduced reliance on pesticides.
The fact that we are trying to reduce the use of pesticides says something
about their place in this progress you talk about. If they are so much
better than the past then why are we working so hard to reduce their use?
Doing it with GMOs, with
> cultural practices, and overall systems management, we have a great story
> tell. There is apparently a certain population who feel obliged to
> progress. They fought pesticides and when we replaced pesticide use with
> GMOs, many of the same people jumped from the anti-pesticide bandwagon to
> the anti-GMO bandwagon.
I do not know enough about the risks of GMOs to comment on other posts on
this list, but so far, I have yet to see a GM crop that was really needed.
All of the GM crops solve problems that could have solved in other ways.
If we had thrown as much money at finding better methods of using Bt
sprays as we have in developing Bt corn, we might have a better solution
than Bt corn. Pesticide Ready crops are mainly a tool of market control
and only make weed control more convenient in my opinion.
> There are also some anti-Avery comments that I am concerned about.
> has a pretty solid story that if it weren't for our use of technology,
> more of the world's natural forest ecosystems would be turned into food
> production. Our high yield management systems in the US can do much more
> help save the rain forests and deserts and to protect fragile ecosystems
> than any other option we have before us. Most of our food crops could
> survive in nature. Most of our agriculture could not survive without
> continuous infusion of technology. It is our success with technology
> gives us the abundance and efficiency that allows more people to NOT be
> involved in food production.
Again, are the farmers that are now leaving agriculture happy about doing
so? Or is it just those who are in agribusiness who point to these
farmers, cry progress, and celebrate the system?
I am not against technology. But much of the technology that is being
"continually infused" into agriculture does not benefit farmers.
I doubt that you will find a large percentage
> of the 98% non-producers who would trade their life styles with going
> to producing their own food.
I have no doubt that a large percentage of non-producers would not like
farming, but how about the small percentage of ex-farmers that have been
forced out by "progress" in the last 30 years? Or those young people in
rural America who would like to farm but find it impossible in the current
I am sure that some of the changes you have seen are for the better, but
not all. Maybe it is because I do not have the benefit of working in
agriculture for the 25+ years, that I do not see the progress you are
talking about. If so, please excuse my inexperience.
> Harold Reetz
> Dr. Harold F. Reetz, Jr.
> Midwest Director, Potash & Phosphate Institute
> Vice President, Foundation for Agronomic Research
> 111 East Washington Street
> Monticello, Illinois 61856-1640
Andy McGuire, Extension Educator
P.O. Box 736 office 402-254-2280
Hartington NE 68739 fax 402-254-6891
University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension
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