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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Factory Farming will Feed the World


I don’t like the term “factory farming”. I frankly don’t think it exists. In my mind it is nothing more than a simple-minded attempt to abolish the way of life 2% of the US population enjoy passing down through generations – kind of like picking a fight with a kindergartener at our age. I just used it in the title to catch your attention. Did my gimmick work? Keep reading.

A mere 2% of our population produces safe, nutritious and surplus food for our country and the world. The topic of hunger is one that hits everyone hard. Somewhere in the ranks of 1 billion people, as of 2009, are currently going about life hungry. These people walk the streets in countries around the world, including the US and is a widespread crisis.

World leaders look to agriculture to solve these problems. While agriculture in the US is dealing with anti-agriculture activists on a daily basis and spending millions of dollars to promote the positives of the industry to US consumers, the rest of the world is looking to agriculture to solve the immense hunger problem. Ag producers are trying to introduce the American consumer to the face of farmer or rancher while dispelling myths about factory farming and large-scale mechanized food production. Agriculture is fighting a different battle in the US, while the rest of the world needs it to help fight hunger.

At a recent United Nations meeting, the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in New York, James Borel, Dupont executive vice president, hammered this thought home. “Agriculture is the primary driver to abate hunger and reduce poverty. Throughout history, agriculture prosperity has led to successful economies,” he comments.

Wait, wasn’t Dupont just being bashed in US popular media for biotechnology practices in crop production? Biotechnology, which undoubtedly only benefits the factory farms and evil, smoke-out-the-ears caricature of ‘farmers’ who run them. Yeah, that’s how the video went.

Dupont and other US crop seed companies have created efficient, sustainable, drought and insect resistant seeds through biotechnology. But we can’t just take our biotechnology into a developing country, teach farmers how to plant our more efficient biotech crops, fly back to the US and celebrate because we solved the problem. Those farmers will see success in the first crop. Yields will be tremendous, but there will be no infrastructure to support the surplus. Next year they will be frustrated, we won’t provide them with biotech seeds again, and they will return to how it used to be.

The point? Solving hunger and increasing overall food production around the world is a complex problem that can’t be solved with one answer. I believe what Borel says in that agriculture is in the answer, but I don’t think it is THE answer. We can battle hunger with an intricate plan including economic and agricultural development around the world.


Just my two cents,


Tera Rooney

2 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. There is plenty of food in the world the problem is not that its the distribution. Biotech has not made anything that tastes good.

    "Want to feed the world? Let's start by asking: How are we going to feed ourselves? Or better: How can we create conditions that enable every community to feed itself? To do that, don't look at the agribusiness model for the future. It's really old, and it's tired. It's high on capital, chemistry and machines, and it's never produced anything really good to eat. Instead, let's look to the ecological model. That's the one that relies on two billion years of on-the-job experience." ~ Dan Barber

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