Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is the Organic Movement Disrespectful to Traditional Farming?

The organic movement is growing and if people like me have our way then in the next decade “conventional” farming will disappear from the mainstream.  It is my firm belief that organic food, clothing and cosmetics truly are the answer to many of the ills that face our society today.  In an interesting article on the website of Representative Kurt Schrader D-OR, I found the following quote. 

"That's one of the things that has caught me and raises my concerns, is that industry's lack of respect for traditional agriculture," said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., referring to some organic companies' efforts to reduce the number of genetically modified crops in the marketplace.

Representative Austin goes on to say that he and his wife buy organic foods.  What I find interesting is that he calls conventional or chemical farming “traditional” to include the use of GM crops and points out the organic industry’s “lack of respect” troubles him somehow. 

A quick history lesson:

Anthropologists believe that human beings have been in existence for somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 years.  For the sake of argument let’s assume that around 150,000 years is the correct number.  It is widely accepted that human beings have been farming in one way or another for more than 10,000 years.

According to www.xtimeline.com experiments with chemical fertilizers began sometime in the early 1800’s and industrial farming also known as conventional farming came to life sometime around 1900 and genetically modified crops became available for public consumption in 1996. 

Organic: 3 a (1) : of, relating to, or derived from living organisms <organic evolution> (2) : of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides  (Source: Webster’s Online Dictionary)

Based on the definition above it is safe to assume that at least 9,800 years of the 10,000 years that humans have been farming has been organic in nature or 98% of the time that we have been farming has been solely organic.  Further, the 140,000 years prior to the known farming history would have consisted of “wild harvesting” which takes organic to an even higher level.  Isn’t organic the more traditional way of raising crops and livestock?

With these things in mind I am troubled by Representative Scott’s words.  What kind of person shops for organic foods but defends chemically grown and genetically modified foods?  Is the organic movement disrespectful or is the “conventional” way of thinking more disrespectful?  I will leave that up to the reader to decide.


© 2013 Richard E. Robinson



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