Biological Farming vs. Industrial / Biotech Based Farming Presented by Chris Sullivan Food Fight Indy November 26, 2012
Two Competing Methodologies• Developments of the late 1800s to early 1900s• Research and work of early 1900s up to WWII• Post WWII a winner emerges• The battle continues today• Which way is best for the future?
Several Questions• Are we any better off? Are we healthier?• Which way really can feed the world?• Who should be feeding the world? Can the rest of the world learn to feed itself?• Which method is truly sustainable?• What are the unintended consequences of biotech and industrial farming?
What Do We Mean by Biological Farming?Synonymous or associated with: – Organic Farming – Holistic Systems – Eco Agriculture – Sustainable Agriculture• Nurturing of soils and biodiversity• More recent focus on nutrient dense foods• A community of excellent farmers and ranchers, consultants, support organizations and product companies.
Industrial and Biotech Based Agriculture• Coinciding with Industrial Revolution• Early focus on chemical fertilization – NPK• Chemical pest & weed control explosion post WWII• Propelled by the “Green Revolution”• Focused on production volume• Abundant, lower cost and more convenient food• Supported by Agri-Business and government agencies
A Few Concerns with Biotech and Industrial Ag• Continual need for agri-business to grow markets to grow companies and keep profitable - To who’s ultimate benefit?• Ramping up PR machine seemingly in response to popularity of organics and local food movements.• Pushing a new Green Revolution with biotech – Are we well served by the first one?• Low margins mean need for higher production of lower value foods to maintain a modest living.• Industrial methods require high energy inputs.
A Few Concerns with Biotech and Industrial Ag• GM0s are not proven and suspect of many health problems.• GMOs lock farmers into a cycle of dependence and into debt.• 40% of grains are fed to factory farm animals• Unintended consequence of chemicals have weakened soils. RoundUp Ready (RR) crops shown to be less productive (Huber.)• RR GMO crops mean more Roundup sprayed, but no better food and nutrition.
A Few Concerns with Biotech and Industrial Ag• Crops are more environmentally sensitive.• Higher occurrences of pesticide related illnesses in farmers and their farm workers.• Herbicide tolerant ‘super weeds’ have developed, RoundUp is now less effective.
A Few Concerns with Biotech and Industrial Ag• 9-10 million dairy cows in US with an average culling age of 42 months.• Since 1993 US went from 131,000 to 50,000 dairy farms.• Bigger is not better!• Pharamceutical methods of manipulating cow’s rumens (Rumensin, monensin) for production, has consequences. But this can be done naturally!
True Sustainable Agriculture• People past and present• Future farmers and interest of young and beginning farmers• Large movement with much scientific support and results• Scalability – limited, but not limited to how much can be done!• Whole systems and biodiversity with results!
True Sustainable Agriculture Early 20th Century Visionaries• Sir Albert Howard – Father of modern organic ag• Frank Newman Turner – British organic farming pioneer• William Albrecht – University of Missouri Agronomist• Louis Bromfield – Malabar Farms, “Out of the Earth”• Friend Sykes – Modern hummus farming• Dr. Weston A. Price – Nutrition researcher• William Kenan – Randleigh Farms, dairy and nutrition research. Worked with numerous doctors and farmer scientists. Cured undulant fever and TB with raw milk.
Healthy Soil Systems• Don Shrefer – “From The Soil Up” and “Agriculture in Transition”• Yield limiting factors go beyond NPK. Fertilization is nothing without proper air, water and digestion (decay) management.• Soil biology, including microbes and fungi, are an important part of healthy soils.• Good soil systems are fundamental to yields and nutrient density.• Lots of off farm inputs ARE NOT required for high volumes of production.
True Sustainable Agriculture Sample of Modern Researchers, Consultants and Practitioners• Jerry Brunetti – Animal health and nutrition• Ardeen Anderson, Ph.D., D.O., soils consultant• Will Winter, DVM – Holistic animal health• Gary Zimmer – Soils consultant and farmer• Jeff Moyer – Rodale Institute, cover crops and organic vs. conventional trials.
True Sustainable Agriculture A Sample of Modern Day Successful Sustainable Farmers and Ranchers• Cody Holmes and Greg Judy – Successful grass-fed and grazing operators• Joel Salatin – Polyface Farms, multifaceted eco- agriculturist, successful farmer• Dick Thompson – Farmer and founding member of Practical Farmers of Iowa• Klass and Mary Martens – Former conventional turned successful organic farmers• Wendell Berry – Famous farmer and author, “The Unsettling of America.”
Sustainable Agriculture Conferences Since the Mid 1990s• Growing in size each year• Five plus with 1,000 or more attendance• Several with 2,500 to 3,000 attendees• Fair number with 400-500 attendees• Many with 100-250 attendees• All kinds of meetings and specialty topics
Sustainable Agriculture Groups Sample of Agencies, Associations and Publishers• SARE – Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, part of USDA• ATTRA – National Sustainable Agricultural Information Service, National Center for Appropriate Technology• MOSES – Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service• OEFFA – Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association• SSWAG – Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group• Acres USA – Publisher, founded by Charles Walters
Whole Systems Farms Seen as Ecosystems• Mimic the success of nature• Intelligent, self organizing, collaborative• Nature is not survival of the fittest, it is survival with cooperation, communication and collaboration• Biodiversity of local environment• Depend upon consilience, versus specialization
Feeding the World• It’s more than increasing yields. For example: – Per capita food production in South America and India is up in the last 30 years, but the number of hungry people have increased. – In India, from 10 million to 42 million tons of grain produced, but not all distributed, much marked for export.
Feeding the World How can biological/eco-agriculture help?• Development of many more sustainable farming environments• Rural development around the world• Already many in US sustainable agriculture movement are helping worldwide• Exporting the current successes• Empowering local people to do what works
Future of Food and Farming A critical time to make a wise choiceWe must learn from the past and take into account unintended consequences Nutrient density needs to be consideredWe need to respect the connection between soils, plant, animal and human health Science and nature do coexist, as has been proven, when the right motives are in force
Contact Info Chris Sullivanchris@FarmFoodAndHealth.comwww.FarmFoodAndHealth.com
Resources• Acres USA – Publisher and seller of Eco-Agriculture books and “Acres USA Magazine” and the annual Acres USA Conference. http://www.acresusa.com• MOSES – Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service. Annual conference, various educational events and farm field days. Based in Wisconsin. http://www.mosesorganic.org
Resources• OEFFA – Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association. Annual conference, organic certifications, educational events and tours. http://www.oeffa.org• Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group (Southern SAWG) – Supporting southern states, annual conference, educational programs. http://www.ssawg.org
Resources• Rodale Institute – Organic farming research and outreach for the last sixty years. Home of the 30 year Farming Systems Trial comparing conventional farming to organic farming. http://www.rodaleinstitute.org• SARE – Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, part of USDA. Grants, books and other educational materials. Various office in many states. Serving Indiana. http://www.sare.org• ATTRA – National Sustainable Agricultural Information Service, National Center for Appropriate Technology. Sustainable agriculture information and services for all that are interested. http://attra.ncat.org
Resources• Cornucopia Institute – Information for consumers, family farmers and the media on the sustainable and organic agricultural community. Various ‘Scorecards’ on the state of certified organic companies and producers. http://www.cornucopia.org• Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture – Research and education center located at Iowa State University with a focus on the negative environmental and social impacts of farming, farm profitability and conservation of natural resources. http://www.leopold.iastate.edu
Resources• Institute for Responsible Technology – Founded by Jeffery Smith, author and GMO expert. Investigating the risks and health affects of GMOs and educating the public and policymakers. Publishers of the ‘Non-GMO Shopping Guide’ and iPhone app. http://www.responsibletechnology.org• Organic Consumers Association - Campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. Dealing with issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, childrens health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. http://www.organicconsumers.org
Resources Some National Sustainable Farming Heroes• Joel Salatin – Polyface Farms, multifaceted eco-agriculturist, successful pasture based farmer, author, advocate and educator. http://www.polyfacefarms.com• Cody Holmes - Successful grass-fed and rotational grazing operator, author and educator. http://www.holisticsystemsforstockmen.net• Greg Judy - Successful grass-fed and mixed species rancher, MOB grazing expert, author and speaker. http://www.greenpasturesfarm.net
Resources Some National Sustainable Farming Heroes• Eliot Coleman – Organic produce farmer, utilizing season extension, rotational grazer, free range poultry producer, author and educator. http://www.fourseasonfarm.com• Will Allen – Former professional basketball player turned urban farmer. Founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc., an organization dedicated to the development of community food systems and to sharing the knowledge of local food production. He is a public speaker and educator, author of the book ‘The Good Food Revolution’, and an innovator of creative farming systems. http://www.growingpower.org
Local Indiana Resources• Global Peace Initiatives -