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Archive for February, 2012

I’m sure you have heard this question before, and likely the competing arguments as well.  Fortunately, studies continue to prove that organic farming is the only sustainable way to feed the massive and growing population of life on this planet.  The Earth Island Journal recently published a story about rice farmers in the Philippines (one by the name of Danilo Atilano) who have switched to organic methods and are proving all the naysayers wrong.  The full article is worth reading and can be found here.  For those short on time, Liz has graciously provided the summary that follows (Thanks Liz!).

The article asks the question, “Can Danilo Atilano feed the world?”  But that is certainly not the only question.  Danilo Atilano and other organic farmers like him MUST feed the world, for so many reasons.  During the Green Revolution, large agribusiness firms turned farming on its head (and put millions of small farmers out of business), purportedly because “science” was the only way that so many people could be fed.  But what was their true purpose?  Was it to feed the world, or was it to feed the pockets of big business?  Unfortunately, what has happened has brought wealth to a small group of people while impoverishing many.  Additionally, it has proven to be ecologically dangerous….chemical fertilizers and pesticides are endangering our health, our soil, and our water supplies.  GMO seeds are poorly tested before being put on the market and are putting farmers all over the world in debt and often out of business because they might not produce well in every climate and require those same expensive fertilizers and pesticides.  And monocrops are particularly vulnerable to climate change, variances in insect populations and disease.

According to the evidence the article presents, when Danilo Atilano and others like him switched to organic (zero-chem) methods, their yields increased and their costs went down because they no longer were purchasing fertilizers and pesticides and were able to save seed for the next year’s planting.  Their seeds work better in the local soil;  AND the soil, which had been compacted and depleted of nutrients,  improved through the use of composting, natural pesticide and fertilizer “concoctions,” and crop rotation and diversification.

So the question isn’t so much whether organic farmers can feed the world because the evidence points to the fact that they certainly can.  The questions are: Will we develop the political and economic will on a global scale to make a large scale transition to organic farming?  Will we make land available again to small scale farmers to grow food crops for the local population, or will we continue to raise crops plantation-style for export and for manufacture into biofuels?  Will people, especially those in developed countries, start to “vote with their forks” by purchasing and consuming local and organic foods instead of cheap, processed foodlike substances?  Will the value of good, clean food finally be recognized?

We can only hope that the answers to these questions is a resounding “YES!”  Supporting a transition to local and organic foods can help the planet and its growing population by combating poverty and hunger, global climate change, pollution and resource depletion.  It is imperative to the survival of our species.

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photo by John Cavanagh – Danilo Atilano in his rice field

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