A recent opinion piece in the Maui News blog opposing organic agriculture and in support of biotech GE (GMO) research in Hawaii accused organic agriculture of being a reason people are starving.
It was ridiculous and over-reaching and perpetuated more fear. Fear that if you in some way oppose GE chemical agriculture you also oppose feeding the starving.
In the 2014 study conducted by University of Berkeley Institute of Food, researchers demonstrated that organic agriculture could satisfy the world’s appetite. Organic agriculture can compete and potentially even create higher yields and more food over a longer period of time.
Organic agriculture: Could it produce enough food for everyone?
GE chemical dependent mono-crop industrial agriculture has resulted in many impacts that are never weighed evenly against the “positives,” which are often exaggerated future projections. There are countless pollution events, environmental damages, deaths, cancers, diseases, dust bowls, super weeds and bugs that have resulted in farm losses, reduced quality of food, chemical “tread milling” and possibly irreversible damage to communities and environments around the world.
GE organisms have not been independently shown to produce higher yields, increase production, environmental tolerance or nutrition! This simply isn’t true. Even our kids’ current science textbooks acknowledge that the promises of GE crops has never actually come to fruition.
Instead, the technology has mostly been applied to the development of pesticide producing and herbicide resistant crops and boosting chemical and biotech sales for corporate interests. This is an industry driven by chemicals, corporate agenda and profits, not efforts to feed the starving.
The problem is not yield or production. We already (by a significant amount) produce enough food to meet the world’s needs. We produce nearly enough food annually to feed 10 billion to 12 billion people, and there are only about 7 billion on Earth.
Then why are people starving? They starve and go hungry because of over consumption in developed (first world) countries and under distribution (because of greed and politics) in underdeveloped (Second and Third World) countries. Corporate and government agendas and profit margins prevent feeding the starving.
The “Chemical Agriculture Age” will no doubt soon be looked back on as a barbaric and foolish answer to the production of food, a mistake and a learning curve in agricultural advancements. As our understanding of the natural world, ecology and agriculture grows we look more at the chemical age as obsolete. We have moved beyond it.
Recent advancements in agriculture have found reliable alternative pest control measures that utilize healthy functioning ecosystems to increase yield and produce quality food. It is these, agro-ecological approaches that will make it possible for nations to feed themselves (healthy and well) into the seventh generation.
So next time someone tells you organic agriculture can’t feed the world, let them know that it can, and it will.
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Fern Rosenstiel has a bachelor's degree in science and majors in marine biology, wildlife management and environmental science. Fern worked on the development and passing of Ordinance 960. She is one of the directors of 'Ohana O Kaua'i, and one of the organizers for the 2013 Kauai marches to bring attention to the impacts associated with GE pesticide experimentation in Hawaii.