Chicago Tribune (link no longer available)
George Naylor, National Family Farm Coalition

I’m sorely disappointed in George McGovern and Marshall Matz’s disturbing commentary piece, “Agriculture’s next big challenge” (Jan. 4), which makes a failed argument to continue with business as usual for industrial agriculture. Our current fossil-fuel based system has led to severe degradation of the land, while encouraging giant livestock feedlots and factory farms that severely degrade air and water quality.

Industrial agriculture has also given us diets loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and cheap fast food. No wonder obesity, particularly among low-income Americans, is now an epidemic.

How can McGovern and Matz ignore the broken social system throughout American farm communities and not perceive the human tragedy industrial, Green Revolution agriculture will bring to Asia, Africa, and Latin America? As a corn farmer from a family farm tradition, I would hope that my country through the new Obama administration would champion a vision of family farm agriculture based on food sovereignty principles, where everyone has access to economic opportunity in rural areas and to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food.

The recent landmark report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology, backed by United Nations Agencies and the World Bank and comprising over 400 scientists, showed that commercial agricultural practices are endangering the planet while also failing to rectify the hunger of millions. To reverse this, the report said investments in ecological practices and science that encourages participatory knowledge creation and the integration of indigenous knowledge shows more promise than relying on transgenic crops and other chemical-intensive Green Revolution tactics.

It is a false idea that American food can feed the world, an idea that only invites more disdain for American economic arrogance. Developing countries need a democratic vision to become self-sufficient in building their own local food economies just as we need a democratic vision to transform our own.

The planet, our rural communities and our children’s diets will be the better as soon as we wake up to scientific facts instead of the usual agribusiness propaganda recycled by McGovern and Matz in their apologetic defense of industrial agriculture. I hope President Obama and Gov. Tom Vilsack’s vision for change will confront this challenge head on.

Stay Engaged

Sign up for The Cornucopia Institute’s eNews and action alerts to stay informed about organic food and farm issues.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.