Pro-organic groups like Pesticides Action Network or Friends of the Earth are trying to portray conventional farmers as industrial farming or faceless factory farms. They have created a public villain, indiscriminately pouring chemicals down the throat of Mother Nature, mistreating poor animals and not caring about nature or our health, but only big, Monsanto-sized profits.This is contrasted by the saintly, bucolic image of the organic farmer, who loves the land, is concerned for our health and earns just enough to support his children who will lovingly take over the homestead some day. I have given examples in what I refer to as the vulgar vilification of farmers, and as someone who grew up on a small family farm, I resent the arrogance of these cosmopolitan zealots.
Many of the angrier comments I have read on the Risk-Monger Facebook page have been narrow and locally based. My critics only buy locally, don t worry how their food demands affect global food security, they shun large global food companies, and expect that everyone in the world will do just fine making the same food decisions they make in their isolated economic wonderland. But putting organic, anti-GMO demands on poor, developing countries is immoral.I have lashed out regularly at Greenpeace for its environmental colonialism and attacks on the capacity of developing countries to try to have access to modern food technologies. Their campaigns against Golden Rice exemplify the moral vacancy of that horrid organisation.
Organic is just one piece of a nasty fabric I have referred to as the economic injustice of environmentalism. The Green Movement has influenced policies to help the rich, aristocratic class do well at the cost of the poor, working class.Whether it is subsidies for solar panels (paid in the form of higher rates on those who could not afford panels) or electric cars, the affluent do not think about the consequences of their actions on the poorer classes. As prices increase on food and choices go down, will the FoodBabe feel sorry for those without? As Vivienne Westwood said: poor people should eat less so they can afford organic food.
Besides weather and disease outbreaks, there are also man-made stresses that play havoc with global food security. A decade ago, environmentalists had pushed for increased biofuels production and as agriculture recalibrated for the new energy opportunities, food stocks decreased dramatically, prices soared and many poor economies faced crises. I have argued that the Arab Spring phenomenon was due to the fall-out from the food price increases that had affected most middle and lower income countries at that time.
Rising demand for lower-yielding organic food production will irresponsibly add stress to the global food production levels. The organic lobby s reply is smug and cynical: there is no problem, we just need to reduce food waste ( ¦ and lower population levels). But here is an issue to ponder. Consider tomorrow what would happen if Coca-Cola bowed to activist pressure and committed to sourcing only organic, non-GMOs. It would be impossible to produce sufficient maize for this one global client and prices in poor countries would go through the roof. What a great victory that would be!
Conventional farmers have the option to use synthetic fertilisers which, when used precisely, are more efficient for direct nutrient management, emitting far fewer pollutants and reducing CO2 emissions. It is pure madness to reject this technology just because it is not natural, given the dire environmental consequences organic fertilisers are causing. And yet the organic lobby continues to tout the environmental benefits of their medieval farming practices.
A cup of coffee is filled with chemicals. They ve identified a thousand chemicals in a cup of coffee. But we only found 22 that have been tested in animal cancer tests out of this thousand. And of those, 17 are carcinogens. There are 10 milligrams of known carcinogens in a cup of coffee and that s more carcinogens than you re likely to get from pesticide residues for a year!
But I like coffee! The point is that the risk from synthetic pesticides at the maximum residue exposure levels is practically meaningless. It is no surprise that caffeine is ten times more toxic than glyphosate a lot of other natural chemicals are far more toxic but the organi-gurus are too busy scaring us to make us get this point.
One little addendum to make today s anti-pesticide campaign seem even more ridiculous: Ames made this statement 21 years ago, so considering that synthetic pesticides were much more toxic then than they are today, we might need to radically revise Ames comparison downwards (perhaps to the equivalent of a sip of coffee today).