Post-modern environmentalism versus modern agronomy
This is so good. Will be sending to many. Canada is a liberal urbanite cesspool.
Carter Williams, CEO of iSelect Fund posted your article today on LinkedIn within the context of "food is health", iSelect Fund's investment thesis. It speaks to both the roll of innovation and slightly touches on the fact that lack of nutrition has become an unintended negative impact of the Green Revolution. The bottom line is that this topic is far more complex than suggesting organic can't feed the world and modern agriculture has won the day.
Borlaug's Green Revolution certainly increased global food production and helped to alleviate hunger and poverty in many parts of the world. However, like many other innovations, the Green Revolution also created unintended consequences that today are costing trillions of dollars annually to mitigate. Specifically in the US some of these include:
Environmental Impact: The increased use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation in the Green Revolution has led to environmental issues such as soil degradation, water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. The heavy reliance on these inputs have contributed to soil nutrient imbalances and chemical runoff that harmed ecosystems and aquatic life.
Loss of Agrobiodiversity: The focus on a few high-yielding crop varieties led to a reduction in the cultivation of traditional and locally adapted crop varieties. This decreased agrobiodiversity, has made agricultural systems more vulnerable to pests, diseases, and changing environmental conditions.
Dependency on Inputs: Farmers who adopted the new technologies often became dependent on expensive inputs like fertilizers and pesticides. This dependency has led to financial strain, particularly for small-scale farmers, and has also contributed to cycles of debt.
Social Inequality: The benefits of the Green Revolution were not equally distributed. Larger farms and wealthier farmers were often better equipped to adopt the new technologies and capitalize on the increased productivity. This has exacerbated social and economic inequalities within rural communities.
Displacement of Traditional Farming Practices: In some cases, traditional and sustainable farming practices were abandoned in favor of the new high-yielding varieties and practices promoted by the Green Revolution. This shift has led to the loss of traditional knowledge and local wisdom about farming systems adapted to specific ecological conditions.
Water Depletion: The intensive use of irrigation to support high-yielding crops has lead to over-extraction of groundwater and depletion of water resources. This is leading to long-term consequences for water availability and sustainability in certain regions.
Shift in Dietary Patterns: The focus on increasing production of staple crops like rice, wheat, and maize sometimes led to neglect of other nutrient-rich traditional crops. This has contributed to changes in dietary habits, leading to imbalanced nutrition and associated health issues related to obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. This problem alone is costing the US $1.9 trillion annually in healthcare expense, with the most seriously impacted by the food they receive through the subsidized by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We spend $100 billion annually in tax payer dollars to feed food that is causing us to spend a trillion on treating the negative effectives of consuming these foods.
Genetic Erosion: The widespread adoption of a few high-yielding varieties has led to genetic erosion, as local and traditional crop varieties are replaced by a limited number of commercial varieties. This has reduced the genetic diversity available for future crop improvement and adaptation to changing environmental conditions.
Market Concentration: The Green Revolution encouraged the development and dissemination of proprietary crop varieties and technologies by agribusiness companies. This concentration of power in the hands of a few corporations has limit the choices available to farmers and reduced their control over their own seeds and agricultural practice.
I view the Green Revolution’s unintended causes as both an innovation and economic opportunity. Carter calls it filling latent demand.
Congratulations on buying your farm.
I loved this!!! When I walk on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota, I always enjoy the statue. I wrote this a while back. https://markdolan.substack.com/the-norman-conquest