Monday, February 17, 2014

Agricultural Coexistence

Brian Snyder is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). His remarks at the organization's Farming For The Future Conference are always well-presented and thoughtful and this year was no exception.
 "How can neighboring farmers get along when one of them seeks to operate with nature in a lead role, and the other chooses to use some of the latest technology available that is meant to manipulate nature into providing a desired result? That is exactly the question the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has asked us all to comment on, and they recently extended the deadline for written comments until March 4, 2014 so that we could discuss it at farming conferences being held this winter.  To be more specific, the USDA is asking for comments on how to 'foster communication and collaboration among those involved in diverse agricultural production systems in order to further agricultural coexistence.'
"On the face of it, the idea of 'coexistence' is difficult to argue with ... something we all would likely endorse with respect to disputes of all kinds, from the local to international levels. But in this case it's a bit more ominous an idea, since the two sides are not equal in the terms of the threat one poses to the other.
"Make no mistake about it, this idea of coexistence in agriculture is the “separate but equal” moment of our sustainable food and farming movement. That idea didn’t work well in the quest for racial equality in the Civil Rights Movement, and it will not work in this case either. What’s needed is nothing less than a full accounting of the risks associated with genetically engineered crops and the chemicals used to support them, to say nothing of the tragically failed promises that GMO crops would lead to reduced pesticide use and increased economic benefit for farmers. With this information on the record, we can then move forward confidently to assign proper liability, not to the neighboring farmer who, after all, is just following industry advice, but to the manufacturers of the seeds and chemicals used in genetically engineered production systems."

Read the transcript of the entire speech here:

Storm clouds gather over neighborhood fields on a Crandall Hill summer afternoon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating subject! So many farmers look at GMO crops as something that will turn their operations into success. Just look at how these products are marketed - both by the companies and also by cooperative extension and other trade groups.