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Old 01-04-2006, 09:44 PM   #1
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Give Up Organic in 2006

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It's self-indulgent, wasteful and frankly immoral. But you know how it is. I was swept along with the trend, and it felt good at the time. But I don't want to be a hypocrite. So I'm giving up organic food in 2006.
The incident that stiffened my resolve was a white rubber-banded wrist thrusting across me to grab organic apples. Here was someone who professed solidarity with the world's hungry. Yet they support a farming method that would starve over half the world.
The world was farmed entirely organically as recently as 1900. Since then the global population has increased over 3.5 times. Unfortunately, the area cultivated for food has merely doubled. Even so, collectively we're better fed. In the past 50 years, the number who are starving has halved as the population has doubled. This almost miraculous turn of events is down to nitrogen fertilisers.
When it comes to basic needs such as food, the most important development of the last century has been the creation of nitrogen fertilisers. By replacing the nitrogen lost when a crop is harvested you can continue to plant the same plot of land each year without losing productivity. This means the same area of land produces anything up to double the quantity of food.
It's certainly true that nitrogen fertilisers aren't without their problems. Nitrates in water and the eutrophication of lakes are both significant problems. But let's just imagine what would happen without them. Let's farm the current 1.5 billion hectares of farmland organically. A rough estimate suggests that we could sustain a global population of around 2.4 billion. Do you want to be responsible for telling 3.6 billion people that there's no food because you don't like "synthetic" fertilisers? You're not telling them that nitrogen fertilisers are actually that bad for them or anything. Just that you want a more "natural" diet. More in touch with nature. Well, they'll be in touch with nature all right. Under about six feet of it.
Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Let's assume that we can increase the land we farm on. That's not without its problems. This year we are set to destroy some 25,000 sq km of Brazilian rainforest, but that will have to increase dramatically. And forget western luxuries such as national parks, or indeed, parks. Even if we managed to double the world's farmland and maintained productivity in increasingly marginal areas (like the Cairngorms), we're still short. That's still 200 million dead people. Just because the Soil Association tells us that synthetic fertilisers are wrong.
So I know what you're thinking. "Yes, but I don't want to feed the world organically. Just my precious family." I'm sorry, but that's rather along the same lines as: "I know they guzzle petrol like there's no tomorrow and are far more likely to kill pedestrians. But my family is special. I really need a beast of an SUV with spinning alloy wheels and DVD players in the headrests."
At the very least, in a country like ours that produces excess food, organic farming robs land that might otherwise be used to promote bio-diversity. That's because organic fields need to be left fallow, growing leguminous crops or livestock whose faeces can be used to return nitrogen to the soil. Yes, you read that correctly. The inefficiencies of organic land use make it less environmentally friendly than conventional farming whose efficiencies mean we can return land to nature. But there's a more sinister perspective. In our lifetime we'll see global population top 10 billion. We're lucky it won't be more.
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Old 01-04-2006, 10:03 PM   #2
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A-Wanderer...just want to let you know you have some good topics.

It's just that excess of everything which concerns me....too many people....too many consumer goods.........too many waves.......TOO MUCH!!


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Old 01-05-2006, 12:20 AM   #3
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I've always wondered about this issue. I've never really spoken out about it b/c I don't know much about organic farming. However, in my biology lab, we spent some time learning about and discussing organic foods. What really irked me was Greenpeace's complete intolerance of ANY form of GMO, even though it's been proven that certain GMOs would help save the economies and save people from starving in many areas of rural Africa. In a lot of these places in Africa, the people have no choice than to farm, but they're not farming the right crops, or have poor land, or are using poor technique that eventually "kills" the soil. Scientists have and can continue to develop plants that work in these areas, but I guess all the Western upper-middle class protesters from Greenpeace don't ever have to think about choosing between farming organic foods and probable starvation, or farming GMOs and being able to gain a profit and feed the family. I admire Greenpeace for a lot of things, but this is one issue where I have to side with taking the option that has the most benefit (often life or death) to the most people.
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:30 AM   #4
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I also don't know much about organic farming, but I agree with you LivLuv...I get the feeling that a lot of people who are completely against any/all gmo can be a little self-righteous, and ignorant of the facts. From what people have told me, this kind of stuff can do wonders for farmers in parts of Africa and other places.
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:36 AM   #5
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"Organic" seems to be one of those words that is given a higher meaning that the facts warrant.
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:47 AM   #6
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It's an over simplified article about an over simplified subject.
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by VertigoGal
I also don't know much about organic farming, but I agree with you LivLuv...I get the feeling that a lot of people who are completely against any/all gmo can be a little self-righteous, and ignorant of the facts. From what people have told me, this kind of stuff can do wonders for farmers in parts of Africa and other places.
Thanks. It just really gets under my skin when organizations that have such a stong international presence start putting the lives of PLANTS over the lives of humans.
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:34 AM   #8
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I think it is good that we have imroved our knowledge of how to grow the food we need to sustain ourselves.....

But it can be refined, as always.

Nothing quite like fresh produce, though...
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:03 AM   #9
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um i thought the point of 'organic' food was that it's better for 'us', not because we somehow 'value' plants more than people. But I could be derailing a perfectly good strawman session, so don't mind me.
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:38 AM   #10
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What on Earth would give you that idea?
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Old 01-05-2006, 08:17 AM   #11
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Let's drink a glass of chemicals to toast the new year.

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Old 01-05-2006, 09:22 AM   #12
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I'm Fungry, guys!
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:01 AM   #13
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Organic foods are often a false sense of security because they grow under the same skies that piss down acid rain and wind patterns will carry airborne pollutants to the organic field regardless. In many ways I think the organic food industry is one of the biggest money grabs around.

As for GMOs, the issue I take with Greenpeace is that they are participating in fearmongering. Frankenstein foods and whatever else they are calling them - from a biological perspective, GMOs are potentially dangerous not because of the harm posed to human beings but because they are artificially changing the ecosystem and outcompeting native species which may have undesirable consequences down the line.

The problem with a lot of hard science these days is that very few people are actually qualified enough to understand it on their own, which is why the media and other organizations are able to project forward their own version of reality.
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kieran McConville
um i thought the point of 'organic' food was that it's better for 'us', not because we somehow 'value' plants more than people. But I could be derailing a perfectly good strawman session, so don't mind me.
It is better for you and for nature. And in this strange world of dumping the overproduced food ( like American rice and sugar from Europe ) i do not believe that there will not enough food for everyone when we produce more organic food .



And using only chemical nutrician is a disaster for the soil on the long run and Growing the same crop on the same soil for years can make the crop sick ( fungies( sp ), bacteria ect so you need to use more chemicals to fight that diseases.
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Old 01-05-2006, 11:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kieran McConville
um i thought the point of 'organic' food was that it's better for 'us', not because we somehow 'value' plants more than people. But I could be derailing a perfectly good strawman session, so don't mind me.
I think you missed the point LivLuv was addressing.
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