Mark Lynas' “environmental conversion” (part 3)

But Lynas believes we need to ramp up production still farther and increase our capacities to produce food through the ‘beneficial technology of GMO’s’. This becomes a vicious circle as Peter Farb’s paradox illustrates. But even were the question one of increasing production, the reality is clearly different from what Lynas suggests. The so-called ‘Green Revolution’ in India, which was green only in the colour of the money it produced for the chemical companies, proved to be an environmental and social disaster, and yet its architect, Norman Borlagh, who in my view should be reviled as a mass-murdering villain, is still celebrated as a hero by people like Lynas. Again, one has to ask, when was this guy ever an environmentalist?

Years of chemical inputs in India have stripped soils of their nutrients and life, causing reductions in harvest and crop failure while leaving some of the country’s most fertile soils desolate and barren and also inciting thousands of farmers to commit suicide by drinking their pesticides. Thankfully there is a growing movement to return to organic and biodynamic methods, which not only preserve and revive depleted soils, but provide significantly higher yields in the long term.

Lynas now refers to the argument that we can only save the earth and feed its people by using organic food as “simplistic nonsense.”

“If you think about it, the organic movement is at its heart a rejectionist one,” he continued. “It doesn’t accept many modern technologies on principle. Like the Amish in Pennsylvania, who froze their technology with the horse and cart in 1850, the organic movement essentially freezes its technology in somewhere around 1950, and for no better reason.”

These claims are nothing short of fantastic as the exact opposite is in fact true. Throughout the world, organic and biodynamic production have proven to out-perform chemical methods time and time again and innovation is at the very heart of modern organic farming as conscientious, observant farmers learn to work with, as opposed to against, nature. What most people don’t know or seem to understand is that modern organic agriculture is still in its infancy. All agriculture was organic prior to the introduction of chemical nitrates and the use of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides, but farming techniques were often wasteful and ignorant of what soil is. Soil science is itself a very recent innovation, but is also extremely rare around the world with but a handful of passionate scientific minds striving to reveal its secrets. Our general disregard and disrespect for what soil is, is likewise at the heart of our misunderstandings about agriculture and food production. All life on this planet depends on the soil and yet we treat it like dirt.

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