martes, febrero 07, 2006

Fatal Harvest: Sixty Years of Industrial Agriculture

Biodemocracy Bytes #3

By Ronnie Cummins

Feb. 7, 2006

The last sixty years of "modern" industrial agriculture in the United States, characterized by ever-higher chemical, technology, and energy inputs, can only be characterized as a "Fatal Harvest," for small farmers, the environment, biodiversity, and public health.

This industrialized junk food system has not only polluted the environment, depleted aquifers, destroyed topsoil, and released enormous greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases; but has also engendered an epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and cancer, as well as reproductive and hormone disorders--not to mention 86 million cases of food poisoning a year.

Whether we're looking at the annual impact of 12 billion pounds of chemical nitrate fertilizers; a billion pounds of toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides; thousands of tons of antibiotic residues and hormones in dairy products and meat (80% of all antibiotics produced in the country are added to animals to force the animals to grow faster and to survive the hellish conditions of factory-style farms and intensive confinement); massive applications of industrial waste and sewage sludge on the nation's farmlands, and literally billions of pounds of tainted slaughterhouse waste, blood, fat, and raw manure fed to animals on non-organic farms, it's a wonder we¹re not all dead.

Now with the advent of so-called "Free Trade" treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) of World Trade Organization, this Fatal Harvest of American-style industrial agriculture and genetic engineering is being touted as the preferred model for the entire world.

Even ignoring the health hazards of junk food, genetic engineering, food irradiation, and industrial agriculture for a moment, the likely global environmental and socio-economic consequences of adopting the American-style system of energy and chemical-intensive factory farming and long distance food transportation are apocalyptic.

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