inDUSTrial Agriculture Article
“The threat of nuclear weapons and man’s ability to destroy the environment are really alarming. And yet there are other almost imperceptible changes – I am thinking of the exhaustion of our natural resources, and especially of soil erosion – and these are perhaps more dangerous still, because once we begin to feel their repercussions it will be too late.” (p144 of The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Inner Peace: 2002, Element Books, London)
Most people have been led to believe that large-scale, chemical agriculture is the only way to feed our growing population. However, the United Nations has repeatedly reported that small farmers consistently grow 70% of the world’s food supply on less than 30% of the world’s agricultural resources while the remaining 30% is produced by industrial/chemical farming which consumes 70% of the resources.
According to the land-use group Grain, small farms are often twice as productive as large farms and are more environmentally sustainable. They accomplish this by working to optimize the fertility of the soil instead of largely focusing on the volume of their crops. Healthy soil is a symbiotic relationship between fungal roots (hyphae) and plant roots. Fungal roots access fertility that is unavailable to plants and plant roots in turn feed the fungal roots with proteins and sugars. When you ignore this relationship, soil becomes depleted and external inputs are needed. Conservative estimates report 30 to 50% of crop yields today are attributed to synthetic commercial fertilizer which are largely a byproduct of natural gas. Without fungal and plant root webs soil becomes structureless dirt that can be easily swept away by wind and rain. And according to a Stanford University study, soil erosion and runoff are the greatest contributors of ocean acidification. A revealing study published by Cornell University asserts that we are destroying 37,000 square miles of farmland due to soil erosion.
We are entering a critical time with our agriculture, Henk Hobbelink of Grain states, “The powerful demands of food and energy industries are shifting farmland and water away from direct local food production to the production of commodities for industrial processing, if small farmers continue to lose the very basis of their existence, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself. We need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems.”
We have a tremendous opportunity to turn this around and create a much more beautiful human footprint. Only with an informed public can we vote with our dollars and our ballots to ensure the food we consume is not irreparably harming our environment. Because of this I am making a documentary about the effects of industrial agriculture and people who are moving back to land and discovering new efficient solutions for local food production.
Learn more about the sustainable farming movement and support my efforts here-
Directed by Cyrus Sutton
Voice Over by Tim Crow
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