Activist groups that have no credible science to back up their cause and who get ignored by most people and even the mainstream media, usually turn to hysteria to try to drive their cause. They claim there is a crisis; only they realize it; and, if only the rest of us would adopt their point of view and change its ways, the problem would be solved. This is what is happening this week as an international collection of handwringing malcontents gather in Rome to solve the “crisis” that is agriculture.
The International Symposium on Agroecology for Food and Nutrition Security with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is taking place in Rome this week. This is a collection of scientists, policy-makers, food businesses, chefs, funders, and farmers all contemplating the best way to grow food, provide nutrition, and increase incomes for farms—small and large—all over the world. Undoubtedly, they are doing all this contemplating over pasta and wine. Why are they gathering to do this great work? Well, because “It’s clear that our current methods of food production—aren’t working for people or the planet.” Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank, one of those attending the event, went on to say, “The business as usual approach of high input, resource intensive, monoculture cropping is no longer an option. We need better, holistic, more agroecological and environmentally-smart agricultural practices to nourish the planet.” Speakers at the event were from academia, the UN, and a host of non-profit organizations, most of which had the letters “eco” in their name. I did not see anyone of the list who actually produced food.
Meanwhile, back in the US, another crisis is looming, The Organic Consumers Association has launched a new campaign to draw attention to the “destructive impact factory farms have on human health, the environment, animal welfare.” Their idea is to promote “Factory Farm Free Friday,” calling on consumers to boycott meat, eggs, and dairy from factory farms at least once a week—on Fridays. This is specially designed for folks who feel that “Meatless Mondays” are not enough. “The factory farm model of food production is a disaster—for personal and public health, the environment and the animals it tortures,” said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association of Mexico. This is especially rich since a large percentage of those working on US farms left Mexico to come to the US for a better life.
Organic farming is a legitimate form of production agriculture, but it needs to be careful not to let its industry get hijacked by a radical minority. The OCA “hopes the Factory Farm Free Friday will focus consumers’ attention on the connection between factory farms—fueled by GMO crop-based animal feed–and global warming, and encourage consumers to seek out organic and grass-fed alternatives.”
No wonder consumers are confused about food and agriculture. With this kind of disingenuous, fear mongering hysteria, most people don’t know who or what to believe. The message I got from Food Tank came with a “Donate” button prominently displayed. The Organic Consumers Association, according to its own statement, is “The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.” Which really tells you all you need to know about both groups and their real motivations.
By Gary Truitt