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Thread: Norman Borlaug on Organic Farming

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    Norman Borlaug on Organic Farming

    http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blo...c-farming.html

    Norman Borlaug on Organic Farming
    March 26, 2009, 10:21 am
    Reason asked Norman Borlaug about the claim that organic farming is better for the environment and human health and well-being. His answer:

    That’s ridiculous. This shouldn’t even be a debate. Even if you could use all the organic material that you have–the animal manures, the human waste, the plant residues–and get them back on the soil, you couldn’t feed more than 4 billion people. In addition, if all agriculture were organic, you would have to increase cropland area dramatically, spreading out into marginal areas and cutting down millions of acres of forests.

    At the present time, approximately 80 million tons of nitrogen nutrients are utilized each year. If you tried to produce this nitrogen organically, you would require an additional 5 or 6 billion head of cattle to supply the manure. How much wild land would you have to sacrifice just to produce the forage for these cows? There’s a lot of nonsense going on here.

    If people want to believe that the organic food has better nutritive value, it’s up to them to make that foolish decision. But there’s absolutely no research that shows that organic foods provide better nutrition. As far as plants are concerned, they can’t tell whether that nitrate ion comes from artificial chemicals or from decomposed organic matter. If some consumers believe that it’s better from the point of view of their health to have organic food, God bless them. Let them buy it. Let them pay a bit more. It’s a free society. But don’t tell the world that we can feed the present population without chemical fertilizer. That’s when this misinformation becomes destructive…

    I want to add a big “ditto” to this answer in reference to the whole food miles and locally grown food movement. There is a lot of evidence that trying to get all of our food locally will actually increase energy use. It will certainly harm the environment by increasing land use.

    Why? Because currently, economic incentives push farming of a particular food item towards the land that is best-suited and most productive for that item (government subsidies, both direct, e.g. farm programs, and indirect, e.g. subsidized water for agriculture in arid areas like Arizona and SoCal, interfere with this, but that is a different subject). The locally grown food movement seeks to shift crops from large productive farms located in the best soils and climates for that crop to smaller farms located in sub-optimal growing areas. This HAS to increase agricultural land use, prices, and in many case, energy use. More here.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Yep.
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    I disagree about organic farming in its culinary value. While I do think that organics are a way for elites to exhibit conspicuous consumption without feeling guilty about it, farming for taste as opposed to farming for yield tends to produce more delicious foods. If you can afford it, try to eat organic.

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    No doubt about the taste. Organic veggies are in my experience significantly tastier. I tend to trust my body about such things, so I figure that they're probably healthier too. Probably not significantly so, but then one has to take into account the placebo effect. Most powerful medicine on earth.
    I enjoy being wrong too much to change my mind.

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    i agree with the point about the silliness of the local food movement, i disagree with the point about organic farm practices. while recognizing the inherent limitations of organic food sustaining our current population, the industrial excesses of the green revolution went too far the other way.

    it got to the point where we can easily raise much more food than we need- where we pay farmers not to plant. at the same time, there remains ecological damage caused by enormous water use, huge problems with swine and fowl antibiotic use (not only making those chemicals present in our bodies, but enormously raising the chances for antibiotic resistant bacteria), and inhumane conditions for other livestock (chickens needing extra drugs as overcrowding causes stress/illness).

    if organic farming allows some of these excesses to be corrected in the conventional farming market, then all the better.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."¯- Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    i agree with the point about the silliness of the local food movement, i disagree with the point about organic farm practices. while recognizing the inherent limitations of organic food sustaining our current population, the industrial excesses of the green revolution went too far the other way.

    it got to the point where we can easily raise much more food than we need- where we pay farmers not to plant. at the same time, there remains ecological damage caused by enormous water use, huge problems with swine and fowl antibiotic use (not only making those chemicals present in our bodies, but enormously raising the chances for antibiotic resistant bacteria), and inhumane conditions for other livestock (chickens needing extra drugs as overcrowding causes stress/illness).

    if organic farming allows some of these excesses to be corrected in the conventional farming market, then all the better.
    I'd argue that these are issues of subsidisation, needed for these farms to compete with better growing areas, not efficient farming practices.
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    The only thing I will say is that organic chicken taste a hell of a lot better than chemically raised chicken.

    So, the recipe will depend on what I buy.

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    pari,

    I'd argue that these are issues of subsidisation, needed for these farms to compete with better growing areas, not efficient farming practices.
    i'm not convinced. industrial farming practices such as these were developed by the highly efficient large farming combines of the midwest, not by some inefficient medium-scale farmer out in idaho.

    i agree with eliminating subsidization, but these industrial abuses stem from a profit model that emphasizes quantity over quality. after all, prior to the organic movement, people could hardly tell the difference between one industrial-farm raised chicken and another.

    now that we know what goes into the chickens, we understand the hidden costs inherent there. the organic movement thus gives us a choice. in this case the movement goes some way in providing the competition that changes the profit model to focus more on quality as opposed to quantity.

    correspondingly, as organics grow more popular there will be a push to raise more efficient, yet still organic farming practices. helps both ways.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."¯- Isaac Asimov

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    What do the politics look like? Would Average Joe complain if the cost of his KFC went up by 25-50%?

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    apples that are sold in nys are brought from washington state and new zeland, while nys grows enough apples to sutusfy damand of the state, why this shiping thing going on???? i have no clue, not to mention with apples from nz we could also import wildlife (bugs..ect) that aren,t part of nys ecosystem.

    also i noticed when i was in jamaica, resourt would fill my fridge with red stripe beer that came from us, same with soda bottles, question why bring the same beer that prodused localy (an tastes better)??

    transportation of these apples and beer, soda, takes lots of energy, this new going green movement, sure would benefit from not having transport stuff, but i guess that and buissnes see things differently.

    also about going green, some things companies do are simply dumb, and have no enviroment in mind, my comp "going green"
    latest stupidity is to use all bag liners that are biodegradable, ok sounds good, but there are hundreds of boxes of old bags enough to last pbly a deacde, yet all those boxes are trown out, and replaced with "green" ones, so those non biodegradable bags end up at the land field anyway. and extra energy used to make biodegradable bags.
    the way i see it 90% of going green movement is not green at all, just a reason to spend and wright off.

    as for organic food, 60 years ago v. shrauberger did huge recearch and experements in field of argoculture, according to him there is no need for furtalizers, he acheved great results using simple water, his secret was water with right molecular structure. right structure was acheved by simply letting water run and spin, just like it does when it drains from the bathtub, vortex=implosion, implosion chnges molecule structure, regenerates, and looses all information it absorbed, leaving only one information, life.

    also russian biologist grebenikov, discovered cavity structual effect, that affects growth of plant in very beneficial way, his experements proved plants subjected to cse grow almost 2x as fast, and much healthier.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" B. Franklin

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    inst,

    What do the politics look like? Would Average Joe complain if the cost of his KFC went up by 25-50%?
    i can't imagine organic practices taking over industrial farming anytime soon. organic farms for the most part aren't large-scale enough to approach industrial farming.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."¯- Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    inst,



    i can't imagine organic practices taking over industrial farming anytime soon. organic farms for the most part aren't large-scale enough to approach industrial farming.

    True, the organic fella by me only farms about 1500 hundred acres. Small in the scheme of things. Everything he raises goes to his cows. The milk only goes to market. It's tough making a living this way since his organic farm is surrounded by those that use chemicals. I can't use chemicals on my yard and the farms that surround him have an agreement only to use chemicals within a certain amount of footage from him and when the wind is in a certain direction. He has to submit to soil samples and milk samples and if he fails, he can't sell his milk.

    Organic crops ARE smaller in yield, but chemical crops are also smaller in yield if planted too close together. Last year the chemical farmer planted so close together he got one cob of corn per stalk. The organic guy planted further apart and got 2 - 3 cobs per stalk. The organic guy plants by cycle of the moon, the chemical guy plants whenever. The organic guy does better far as yield is concerned, but it doesn't make any difference since all he sells is milk.
    Welcome, you step into a forum of the flash bang, chew toy hell, and shove it down your throat brutal honesty. OoE

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    I'll buy what's cheaper.

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    What I mean is that if you kill subsidization the prices of food crops will go up. Corn prices are subsidized as part of American socialism (by socialism I mean you're bribing the poor people not to riot in the streets or turn communist), and this helps to fuel the relatively low prices of meat in the United States.

    Regarding local farming, well...

    http://www.newyorker.com/archive/200...15crat_atlarge

    It's actually more efficient to have crops be shipped from high-sunlight regions than to have it done locally. It's a matter of the inputs needed for high-latitude agriculture; fertilizer needs quite a lot of fossil fuels to produce.

    Regarding the green movement, to be honest, I hate it. I hate it when society tells me to do things that are pro-social, as opposed to the government telling me to do it. I'd rather languish in a government prison than live as a pariah because I'm not following the latest fad for human rights or environmental protection. I'd rather the green movement hound the government to tax negative externalities than to make annoying public service announcements to conserve water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    pari,



    i'm not convinced. industrial farming practices such as these were developed by the highly efficient large farming combines of the midwest, not by some inefficient medium-scale farmer out in idaho.

    i agree with eliminating subsidization, but these industrial abuses stem from a profit model that emphasizes quantity over quality. after all, prior to the organic movement, people could hardly tell the difference between one industrial-farm raised chicken and another.

    now that we know what goes into the chickens, we understand the hidden costs inherent there. the organic movement thus gives us a choice. in this case the movement goes some way in providing the competition that changes the profit model to focus more on quality as opposed to quantity.

    correspondingly, as organics grow more popular there will be a push to raise more efficient, yet still organic farming practices. helps both ways.
    I don't disagree that organic farming offers both choice and innovation in food growing methods, but the subsidies are the main factor in the movement from pasture-based farming to feedlots. The subsidies don't exist in cattle feedlots, they exist in the corn growing which supplies that feed. It's more economical to grow corn than cattle/chickens on the land because of the subsidies and more economical to grow animals in feedlots because the feed is so cheep. The antibiotics are of course necessary due to the extremely poor conditions of the feedlots the animal are raised in.
    By cutting the massive subsidies, you make efficient land based agriculture viable once again.
    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility

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