inDUSTrial agriculture

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Chemical agriculture bears an uncanny resemblance to the pharmaceutical industry. Both produce patented drugs that are meant to eventually fail so new ones need to be invented.

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, “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. Big farms generally consume more resources, control the best lands, receive most of the irrigation water and infrastructure, yet they have lower technical efficiency and therefore lower overall productivity. Much of this has to do with low levels of employment used on big farms in order to maximize return on investment. Small farms are often twice as productive as large farms and are more environmentally sustainable. Using less than a quarter of the world’s agricultural land, such farms are getting smaller all the time, 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.”

A revealing study published by Cornell University asserts that we are destroying 37,000 square miles of farmland due to soil erosion caused by industrial agricultural practices which exhaust soil health. 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.

“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)

If this is such a huge threat, then why aren’t we doing anything about it?

Most people have been mislead to believe that large-scale, chemical agriculture is the only way to feed the growing population and have laid down their rights. Despite this, many counties and states in the US are waking up and attempting to protect themselves by demanding transparency and placing restrictions on agrochemical companies. Nearly all of these grassroots bills have been countered by multimillion dollar campaigns to scare voters. In the past election alone, over 30 million dollars was spent in Oregon and Colorado to defeat their proposed GMO labeling bills. In cases when the people rise up despite corporate PR and pass legislation, like in the case of Kauai’s 2491 bill, the chemical companies have sued the people citing the The Right to Farm Bill. The Right to Farm Bill was drafted to protect farmers from undue complaints but in the list of protective measures includes the praying of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. The fact that these terms are accepted as inherent practices with farming shows a lack of public understanding of the realities of farming.

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.

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