Can Organics Feed the World? Here's What the Experts Say:
This is a topic near and dear to any real foodie's heart, one that has been fiercely debated over the past few years. If you search "can organics feed the world," you'll find as many sites pro as con from an equal number of heavy-weights. Here's the glaringly obvious point: only the pro-organics have history (from even before it was called "organic"), science and evidence on their side. The pro-GMs have theory and guesstimates and only 20 years of history, a history that is very damning (GeneticRouletteMovie.com). In more than 60 countries around the world, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs, for goodness sake! The well-funded pro-Monsanto GM foods machine marches on, however. Liz is in DC today marching with Organic Consumers Association and thousands of its supporters against H.R.4432 which would federally limit states' rights as far as GMO labeling goes. Read Liz' informative article on the DARK Act here and expect a delicious follow-up as soon as she is back at her computer!
CAN organics feed the world? Let's hear from a few experts on the topic:
There are four videos below. If you can only watch a couple right now, watch the first two for a total of 25 minutes. Your answer in a nutshell. In "How I fell in love with a fish," Dan Barber tells us how we'll feed the world of the future and why it's the only way that will work. His talk, which is hysterical, makes irrefutable points about what the GM industry calls "sustainable" farming (19 min):
In a follow-up interview, Chef Dan answered the question "can organic farming feed the world?"
"When you say that agriculture has gone wrong, it sounds like you’re advocating for a system that’s 200 years old. I couldn’t be further from that; I love technology. But I do think we’re heading for a vastly different food experience, in our lifetimes. I think the conventional food system — which is based on lots of cheap energy, lots of cheap labor, lots of available water, lots of soil erosion — is going to be a dead man walking 20 years from now. And that’s because the things it relies upon are not going to be available."
Joel gets to the heart of the matter (4 min)
Allan Savory describes how to reverse the destruction of decades of monoculture and destruction of farmland (22 min):
Here's Joel Salatin at Wunderlust on "Can We Feed The World?" (59 min)
You'll find several other links, articles and studies at the end of this post. If you only read one article, this one from The Atlantic, is a very complete resource on how to feed the world with links to every point the article makes:
Too bad solid, scientific research hasn't been enough to drive that nail [that organics can feed the world] home. A 2010 United Nations study (PDF) concluded that organic and other sustainable farming methods that come under the umbrella of what the study's authors called "agroecology" would be necessary to feed the future world. Two years earlier, a U.N. examination (PDF) of farming in 24 African countries found that organic or near-organic farming resulted in yield increases of more than 100 percent. Another U.N.-supported report entitled "Agriculture at a Crossroads" (PDF), compiled by 400 international experts, said that the way the world grows food will have to change radically to meet future demand. It called for governments to pay more attention to small-scale farmers and sustainable practices -- shooting down the bigger-is-inevitably-better notion that huge factory farms and their efficiencies of scale are necessary to feed the world.
Must We Choose Feast or Famine?
It's not just a question of feast or famine, of illness or health -- which are HUGE and far-reaching considerations. It's also a question of what are we doing to the earth? It's not a moral dilemma as much as a common sense one. What is the viable route? After digesting all the information, it becomes clear that GM food production does more harm than good to our soil, our water, our natural resources, our health and our animals. According to Jared Diamond in Guns Germs and Steel, entire civilizations have been wiped out by one agricultural mistake. There are many who believe that GM foods could very well be ours. Then there's the conspiracy angle: Americans are fatter and sicker then we've ever been. Sick people line the pockets of Big Pharma and the Medical Industrial Complex... Could Monsanto and Pfizer be working hand in hand to make us so sick we can't fight back, so terrified we will comply, so ignorant we won't know what hit us? Reading the bill mentioned above adds a little fuel to that fire.
The Consequences of Government Actors Believing the False Paradigm
Politicians have families, too. If parents are convinced that GMs are the only way to feed their progeny, this might make the powerful pass laws favorable to the very perpetrators of the lie. Laws that favor big money campaign contributors in their state, to keep the ag base "stable." Like laws that will severely limit or outlaw raw milk, which Big Dairy desperately wants to do. Laws to limit what small farmers can grow, where and how much they can sell. Laws to limit what you can grow on your own property. Laws to make any pig but a CAFO pig "feral" and outlawed... Laws to outlaw gathering rainwater from your roof. The ripples would be devastating to real food farmers, as they already have been (watch Farmageddon here). A note on "compromise" where we mix conventional* with organics. As a friend pointed out:
"We really can't have it both ways. GE and pesticides and fertilizers are damaging the ecosystem and interrupting natural genetic code for the whole system and will ultimately corrupt it so nobody is eating well."
*Don't you love how pro-GMs have adopted "conventional" to describe Frankenfoods? We watch as states go down the path to food tyranny. Whether or not Kissinger said it, the fact is that he who controls the food, controls the people.
Who's Winning Control over America's Food Destiny?
The good guys are, of course! (That would be us.) There is no question consumers are winning the war on GMOs, labeling being the current battleground. No matter how we personally feel about the pros or cons of labeling, the FIGHT is bringing attention to the subject, educating consumers about what they are eating. Once a consumer is educated on GMOs, they go ballistic. Particularly moms. Big Ag doesn't want to just dominate the food market, it wants to own it. And it will use all its resources to do so: censor the internet, promote its case via fear to an already terrified citizenry... well, you know that old song and dance. The facts speak clearly: local organic farms can feed the world. In fact, if we are to have any future at all, they must.
Other links, studies, articles:
From 4/13 newsletter of the Union of Concerned Scientists, something that every states' Ag Commissioner desperately needs to read. You can't find the word "genetic" or "gmo" in this article. Smart. See the conclusions at the end. http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/food_and_agriculture/The-Healthy-Farm-A-Vision-for-US-Agriculture.pdf
From Scientific American, hugely pro-pharma, GM and climate change: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/organic-farming-yields-and-feeding-the-world-under-climate-change/
But there is unlikely to be a simple solution. Instead the best farming practices will vary from crop to crop and place to place. Building healthier soils, however, will be key everywhere. "Current conventional agriculture is one of the major threats to the environment and degrades the very natural resources it depends on. We thus need to change the way we produce our food," Seufert argues. "Given the current precarious situation of agriculture, we should assess many alternative management systems, including conventional, organic, other agro-ecological and possibly hybrid systems to identify the best options to improve the way we produce our food."
WSJ Letter to the editor http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323374504578217601897610528 and the 9 year study mentioned on longer rotations in farming: original study here http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0047149 and the Iowa State article now only available via the WayBack Machine: http://web.archive.org/web/20160507011224/http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/news/10-11-2012/benefits-of-longer-rotations
From Alt Health Works, this article hits on commodity speculation which is why many real food experts believe grain crops are heavily subsidized so "investors" can make their "profits" on Wall Street. Not all profits are morally gained. http://althealthworks.com/1366/wake-up-before-its-too-late-new-un-report-calls-for-dramatic-shift-toward-natural-agriculture/
From HuffPost, written by Rodale Institute: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-rodale/6-reasons-organics-can-fe_b_1399380.html
From Natural News: http://www.naturalnews.com/035150_organic_farming_feed_the_world_soil.html
Fascinating little report on Russia's farming stats: http://reclaimgrowsustain.com/content/russians-proving-small-scale-organic-gardening-can-feed-world
National Geographic: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/feeding-9-billion/
"It would be far easier to feed nine billion people by 2050 if more of the crops we grew ended up in human stomachs. Today only 55 percent of the world’s crop calories feed people directly; the rest are fed to livestock (about 36 percent) or turned into biofuels and industrial products (roughly 9 percent)."
From HuffPost and the other team, Robert Fraley, Exec VP and CTO Monsanto. He neglects to mention GMO superweeds and the tragic health consequences of eating GMOs. His HuffPost article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-robert-t-fraley/lets-use-organic-and-gmos_b_5669928.html
10 reasons why organic can feed the world http://www.theecologist.org/trial_investigations/268287/10_reasons_why_organic_can_feed_the_world.html
Research paper written in 2010 with a great biblio: http://hilo.hawaii.edu/academics/hohonu/documents/Vol08x07CanOrganicFarmingFeedTheWorld.pdf
From Natural Society, 8 Proofs We Don’t Need GMOs to Feed the World http://naturalsociety.com/proof-dont-need-gmo-feed-world/
What did we miss here? Please add your resources and ideas, suggestions in the comments!