Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Must See : The Difference Between Natural Growing Areas (Permaculture) and GMO Crop Fields (Monoculture)

Nick Meyer

Permaculture Expert Takes Viewers on a GMO Cornfield Tour: “There’s No Life Here at All…This is Not Farming”

Geoff Lawton has taught more than 6,000 students in over 30 countries on how to grow food in the most efficient and ecologically friendly way possible through permaculture design science, so he knows as well as anyone what a healthy ecosystem and healthy plants should look like.
And as you’ll see on Lawton’s recent clip of both a thriving natural prairie landscape and a GMO cornfield used for feeding animals in factory farms, the GMO cornfield simply doesn’t measure up.
In the clip, Lawton (you can follow him on Facebook here) starts off at the prairie and then crosses over to the GMO field.
“…There’s a great diversity of plants here of all types, this has supported huge herds of animals grazing through in sequenced events,” he says while examining the prairie scene. But he finds a completely different scene upon crossing the road to the GMO field.

This is an Insane Way to Think About How We Produce Our Food”

The difference between walking through a prairie landscape, with tons of plant diversity and cover for the soil, and a GMO cornfield is absolutely striking, as you’ll see in the video below.

“This is not farming. This is a plant factory on the ground,” Lawton says.
“There’s no life here at all…This is a way of converting fossil fuels into money through food, that’s all.”
The big corporations that mass produce GMOs call them “sustainable,” but after viewing the video below it’s hard to imagine how anyone could think that way…

  • Since the 1900s, some 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has been lost as farmers worldwide have left their multiple local varieties and landraces for genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties.
  • 30 percent of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction; six breeds are lost each month.
  • Today, 75 percent of the world’s food is generated from only 12 plants and five animal species.
  • Of the 4 percent of the 250 000 to 300 000 known edible plant species, only 150 to 200 are used by humans. Only three - rice, maize and wheat - contribute nearly 60 percent of calories and proteins obtained by humans from plants
As this article explains -

Monoculture has a damaging effect on the environment 
-- It destroys biodiversity hence the more land devoted to monocultures the more varieties of plant and animal lost.
-- It destroys soil ecology by depleting and reducing diversity of soil nutrients. 
-- It creates an unbuffered niche for parasitic species to take over, making crops more vulnerable to opportunistic pathogens that can quickly wipe out an entire crop 
-- It increases dependency on chemical pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) 
-- It increases reliance on expensive specialized farm equipment and machinery that require heavy use of fossil fuels 

The Most Famous Monoculture Disaster : The Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s
Monoculture farming practices have sadly resulted in a widespread shift away from sustainable family farms and local foods, and toward industrialized agriculture, massive farming complexes, and confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), all driven by large corporations whose chief motivation is maximizing profit. Countless small independent family farms have been squeezed out by "Big Ag" and replaced by massive monocultural operations.
Thousands of animals in small spaces means large quantities of antibiotics are needed to prevent rampant disease. Outbreaks of mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), salmonella, E. coli, avian flu, and campylobacteriosis are all products of industrialized food production. Antibiotics are fed to livestock and poultry to ward off low-grade infection. Weak strains of pathogens are killed off, allowing strong strains to mutate and become even stronger. You consume these bacterial strains in your meat, which then contribute to the spread of infections that are increasingly resistant to the antibiotics your physician prescribes...

Peasants collecting seaweed and limpets for food during the Irish Potato Famine
The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s is a perfect example of how monocropping can lead to disaster.
Lack of genetic variation in Irish potatoes was a major contributor to the severity of the famine, allowing potato blight to decimate Irish potato crops. The blight resulted in the starvation of almost one of every eight people in Ireland during a three-year period. But the greatest shortcoming of monocrops may lie in the compromised quality of those foods, and the long-term effect that has on your health.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (results published in 2008 in the Agronomy Journal) found that traditional organic farming techniques of planting a variety of plants to ward off pests is more profitable than monocropping. The organic systems resulted in higher profits than "continuous corn, no-till corn and soybeans, and intensively managed alfalfa."
Rotational grazing of dairy cows was also shown to be more profitable. The researchers concluded:
"Under the market scenarios that prevailed between 1993 and 2006, intensive rotational grazing and organic grain and forage systems were the most profitable systems on highly productive land in southern Wisconsin." 
The research team also concluded that government policies supporting monoculture are "outdated," and that it's time for support to be shifted toward programs that promote crop rotation and organic farming.
As it turns out, when you eliminate the agricultural chemicals, antibiotics, veterinary treatments, specialized machinery and multi-million dollar buildings, fuel costs, insurance costs, and the rest of the steep financial requirements of a big industrial operation, your cost of producing food makes a welcome dive into the doable. And did I mention… the food from organic farms is better? So, if small to medium-scale organic farming is more profitable, why aren't all farmers doing it?

Government subsidies and Food Monopolies Control the Farmers
The government is subsidizing the makers of high fructose corn syrup but doing nothing to subsidize the growers of healthy, fresh produce. That's issue number one. The second issue is that a very small number of very large companies control the food chain, from seed to plate. Farmers are held captive by huge food processing companies you may have never heard of, because they sell very few products directly to the general public.

Two major players are ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Company) and Cargill, each having ENORMOUS power in agriculture. reports Cargill has greater interests in soybean production and trade than any other company on the planet. Cargill is responsible for more than 75 percent of Argentina's grain and oilseed production and has partnered with the Gates Foundation to introduce similar soybean monoculture to Africa.

So, here's how it works…
Food processors, like ADM and Cargill, sell the farmers seed, fertilizers and pesticides. Then when the crops come in, those food processors turn around and buy the corn and soy, processing it into high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil that they then sell to huge food industry clients, like fast food chains. They also own feedlots. According to "FRESH," 83 percent of commercial beef in the U.S. is processed by just three meat processors.
 These players tell the farmers that, if they want to play the game, they play by their rules or not at all. These food-processing monopolies also promote GMOs. In 1998, Monsanto partnered with Cargill to develop and distribute genetically modified food and feed products.

How can we level the playing field ?
-- Buy local products whenever possible. Otherwise, buy organic and fair-trade products.
-- Shop at your local farmers market, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), or buy from local grocers and co-ops committed to selling local foods.
-- Support restaurants and food vendors that buy locally produced food.
-- Avoid genetically engineered (GMO) foods. Buying certified organic ensures your food is non-GM.
-- Cook, can, ferment, dry and freeze. Return to the basics of cooking, and pass these skills on to your children.
-- Drink plenty of water, but avoid bottled water whenever possible, and do invest in a high quality water filter to filter the water from your tap.
-- Grow your own garden, or volunteer at a community garden. Teach your children how to garden and where their food comes from.
-- Volunteer and/or financially support an organization committed to promoting a sustainable food system.
-- Get involved in your community. Influence what your child eats by engaging the school board. Effect city policies by learning about zoning and attending city council meetings. Learn about the federal policies that affect your food choice, and let your congressperson know what you think.
-- Spread the word! Share this article with your friends, family, and everyone else you know.

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