In response to “Emotions, not facts, incorrectly ruled ‘Future of Food’ series” (counterpoint, Jan. 2), it should be noted that the land-grant university extension programs have been part of the distribution network for conventional agriculture technology for many decades.
You would be hard-pressed to find much research or knowledge about organic farming technology at these institutions, because they need the research funding of the Big Ag companies that have products to sell — chemicals, fertilizers, seed, equipment.
The two soil scientists who wrote the counterpoint both hold emeritus status, which means their entire careers were spent delivering knowledge based on research sponsored by Big Ag.
Don’t get me wrong — that research is good for what it is. But it’s not good for what it’s not.
It is not a comparative picture of what a mature organic farming system can deliver — that is, better average yields, more nutritional density, better soil quality and better farm profitability.
When I say “mature organic” I am referring to organic farmers who have been at it for 10 years or more. The land-grant extension programs have not embraced this alternative (or original) technology because there is nobody to pay for the research.
You believe what you believe because “everyone” believes it. It’s not their fault, but it is faulty logic. They are victims of the boiling frog syndrome, as are the vast majority of farmers.
If we could magically snap our fingers and have the whole world farming (mature) organically, we wouldn’t need to cultivate as many acres as we do today to feed the world of the future. Yes, I do lack the empirical data to support my claim. But I can point you toward several hundred organic farmers in our network who out-yield their conventional neighbors in both dry and wet years due to their soil health.
And they match their conventional neighbors’ yields in “average” years, whatever that means any more. And their crops are preferred by livestock feeders for nutritional density as well as by processors for superior milling qualities. And they are more profitable.
The past 24 months in the organic arena have lifted the fog from my vision after 30-plus years in the conventional agricultural business. I encourage everyone to reject the myth that we cannot feed the world organically (find more information at rodaleinstitute.org).
In fact, I would posit that we cannot feed the world using our current system of chemical-dependent agriculture.
Eric Jackson, of Stillwater, is CEO of Pipeline Foods.