Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sustainable Agriculture & GMOs

   Yesterday I came across this article on Justmeans. While the article is pretty basic in it's overview, the comment that followed it seemed to missed the point. The way it was written made it difficult to fully understand, but it compelled me to respond with this:

No one wants to discuss the the real debate here. It is a question of how many people can live off the land sustainably, how to proceed, and what are the consequences?

If we live in harmony with nature and use a sustainable form of agriculture, can we feed everyone? The answer is: No -- not the way we've been doing it. We, as a species, would need to stop mono-cropping and chemically treating our crops and completely shift gears into a bio-diverse, land nurturing agriculture model. Can that feed the world? We don't know for sure, but we can do some math and speculate.

If we continue on the path we are on we will need to continue to create newer technologies to keep up. In our current system GM crops are already failing, creating more resistant enemies to less nutritious food. We are already behind the ball just in keeping up with what we have created. That's great news for the corporate interest who hopes to bring out the next agricultural miracle, but it's already a nightmare for farmers and food-eaters the world over. Can we sustain this?

If we continue, the rich will continue to eat well for a while (by well, of course, I mean have health issues but not be hungry) and the poor will continue to struggle. Eventually, though, we will reach a point when either the land or the technology can't keep everyone fed and healthy, and the population will have to balance by attrition.

Looking back throughout history, the U.S. is really good at temporary solutions and saving problems for later generations, so it's no wonder this debate rages on.

The big picture is: do we hold on to the current model until starvation and disease become an epic problem, or do we move to a sustainable model and find a balance over time?

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