Monday, October 1, 2012

The Organic Way to Starvation

I defy anyone not to be entertained by Roger Cohen’s tiff with the crunchy granola crowd.

Last month liberal New York Times columnist Cohen ruffled more than a few liberal feathers when he wrote that those who worship at the altar of “organic” ignore the fact that without mechanized agribusiness, artificial fertilizers and pesticides many of the the world’s 9 billion people would starve to death. My comments here.

If your neighbor chooses to buy organic produce at Whole Foods, his actions are harmless. After all, it’s his money and his free choice.

If it makes him feel good about himself, who am I to argue. Yet, once this cheerful man decides that governments around the world should be instituting agricultural policies that will lead to mass starvation, even a card-carrying liberal like Roger Cohen sees that he needs a serious reality check.

In a recent column Cohen explained the problem:

All this said, the organic bourgeoisie, with their babies in reusable cotton diapers, gazing at menus of “organic, local, farm-raised” stuff and inveighing against genetically modified (G.M.) food, inhabits a world of illusion.

The loudest cheering for “The Organic Fable” came from agronomists working in the developing world. One — he preferred not to be named knowing the righteous rage of the organic movement — said that in the palm oil sector alone, the planted area will have to increase by 12 million hectares by 2050 to satisfy demand. That means either increased yield or increased areas (encroaching on rain forests.) Higher yield means fertilizer and “probably means G.M. if it can add traits to crops so they are more resilient to drought and disease,” he said. “To reject science and technology is a completely Luddite response.” His view of the organic ideology: “A substitute for organized religion.”

Put bluntly, without fertilizer the world grounds to a halt. Without herbicides, pesticides and insecticides, yields will not rise in areas, like the corn belt of East Africa, where they must. Moreover, as the World Health Organization says, “chemical control (use of pesticides) is still the most important element in the integrated approach” to control of vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue — not, I know, a big problem in Notting Hill Gate or the West Village.

It’s worth repeating, the “organic ideology” provides a religious experience. It is wildly opposed to science and technology.

In reality, however, the worship of Mother Nature, imposed on the world as a way of life, will naturally produce famine and pestilence.

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