GMOs are far from the only health and environmental risk industrial farming has wrought.
The quest for profits through things like higher yields, faster and more dramatic growth cycles, and more uniform “product” has come with scant concern for how it might affect the overall health of plants or animals, quality of the food they produce or the health of those who eat it. The focus is on the immediate situation: Sell the crops or meat or milk or eggs at the best price while keeping production costs as low as possible.
Thus, the ever growing reliance on herbicides, insecticides, antibiotics, hormones, synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals. These wind up contaminating us through both the food we eat and the environment they pollute.
As countless critics have pointed out, this kind of agriculture is simply not sustainable.
It is also increasingly separated from the natural cycles and systems of nature. It’s an approach that believes we can bend nature to human will without negative consequences. It works against nature – much as conventional Western medicine works against the body, interfering with its own attempts to heal for the sake of subduing symptoms.
Yet, as the title of one Yale Environment 360 article put it, nature always wins.
A reasonable agriculture would do its best to emulate nature. Rather than change the earth to suit a crop — which is what we do with corn and soybeans and a handful of other agricultural commodities — it would diversify its crops to suit the earth. This is not going to happen in big agriculture, because big agriculture is irrational. It’s where we expose — at unimaginable expense — our failure to grasp how nature works.
Humans act. Nature responds. Threats evolve. After years of indiscriminate antibiotic use in both farming and medicine, “superbugs” arise. Weeds and insects begin to develop resistance to chemicals designed to keep them in check. Crops genetically modified to resist certain pests begin losing resistance.
Here are 11 recent articles that touch on these issues and remind why actions like the next global March Against Monsanto (October 12) matter so much. Each, we’ve found interesting and illuminating in understanding the current state of food production and what it may mean for both the future of farming and the future of food. Each is its own little reminder of our need to get back to living in tune with nature, its rhythms and reasons; how being good stewards of nature sustains our own health and well-being, and that of every other living thing, including Earth itself.
If it goes, we go.
- The Evolution of Food (Pacific Northwest Inlander)
- Has GMO Alfalfa Already Contaminated Non-Alfalfa Fields? (Mercola.com)
- Bt Crops Could Be Monsanto’s Greatest Failure (Mercola.com)
- A&W Burgers Bamboozle Customers with Deceptive Claims of Chemical-Free Beef (PreventDisease.com)
- As Superbugs Rise, New Studies Point to Factory Farms (LiveScience)
- 9 Nastiest Things in the Meat You Eat (AlterNet)
- The Global and Growing Use of Pesticides (NPR/On Point)
- Dangers Pesticides Pose to Workers Force Farmers to Look for Alternatives (Fox News Latino)
- Pesticides’ Effect on Generations of Field-Workers (SF Chronicle)
- Women Living Near Pesticide-Treated Fields Have Smaller Babies (Environmental Health News)
- Antibiotic Use of the Farm: Are We Flying Blind? (NPR/All Things Considered)
Image by Ellen Macdonald, via Flickr