Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How to Feed the World: A Study in Contrast


Foreign Policy is not a magazine or website I itch to read. It isn't a place a lefty green foodie like myself would ever even think to look for articles about food and the environment. Turns out I am dead wrong. Recently they published an article called Attention Whole Food Shoppers by Robert Paarlberg defending industrial commercial agriculture that starts out with the heading:

Stop obsessing about arugula. Your "sustainable" mantra -- organic, local, and slow -- is no recipe for saving the world's hungry millions.

Nice. To be defensive and dismissive from the start is, it seems to me, never good. First of all who is obsessing about arugula? I'm not. I'm obsessing about fossil fuel based pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, rapid destruction of top soil, algae blooms in the gold of Mexico caused by pesticide run off and dangerous levels of potions in drinking water caused by chemicals used in commercial industrial unsustainable monocultures. And the how are we going to feed the hungry of the planet is such an old dead in the water ploy as to not really even need to be addressed: America stop raising cattle and grow grains instead - there problem solved, next.
It reads like an overly long press release from Monsanto.

Anyway, what is most impressive is that then they let Anna Lappé write a rebuttal: Don't Panic Go Organic you can read them for yourselves and see what you think, obviously you know where I stand. I'm just really impressed by Foreign Policy and there willingness to actually be fair and balanced unlike other news services who say they are but aren't at all.

It was reported in the New York Times this week that Monsanto's pesticide "Roundup" which is meant to be used with their genetically modified seeds isn't working so well. It would seem that maybe things are starting to unravel as it becomes clear that GMO's and the billion pounds of chemicals being dumped annually on our soil each year is only making things far worse. Shocking right?

And yet the likes of Robert Paarlberg are still getting essays published in major publications trying to convince us to the contrary. These are indeed strange times we live in.

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