Myths About Industrial Agriculture

Published on ZNet, by Vandana Shiva, September 07, 2012.

Reports trying to create doubts about Organic Agriculture are suddenly flooding the media. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, people are fed up of the corporate assault of toxics and GMOs. Secondly people are turning to organic agriculture and organic food as a way to end the toxic war against the Earth and our bodies. At a time when industry has set its eyes on the superprofits to be harvested from seed monopolies through patented seeds and seeds engineered with toxic genes and genes for making crops resistant to herbicides, people are seeking food freedom through organic, nonindustrial food.  

The food revolution is the biggest revolution of our times, and industry is panicking. So it spins propoganda, hoping that in the footsteps of Goebbel, a lie told a hundred times will become the truth. But food is diiferent. We are what we eat. We are our own barometers. Our farms and our bodies are our labs, and every farmer and every citizen is a scientist who knows best how bad farming and bad food hurts the land and our health, and how good farming and good food heals the planet and people … //

… One principle about food and health is that our food is as healthy as the soil on which it grows is. And it is as deficient as the soils become with chemical farming.

Industrial chemical agriculture creates hunger and malnutrition by robbing crops of nutrients. Industrially produced food is nutritionally empty mass, loaded with chemicals and toxins. Nutrition in food comes from the nutrients in the soil. Industrial agriculture, based on the NPK mentality of synthetic nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium based fertilizers leads to depletion of vital micro nutrients and trace elements such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron.

David Thomas, a geologist turned nutritionist, discovered that between 1940 and 1991, vegetables had lost – on average – 24 percent of their magnesium, 46 percent of their calcium, 27 percent of their iron and no less than 76 percent of their copper (Ref: David Thomas ‘A study on the mineral depletion of the foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 1991′. Nutrition and Health 2003; 17: 85-115)

Carrots had lost 75 percent of their calcium, 46 percent of their iron, and 75 percent of their copper. Potatoes had lost 30 percent of their magnesium, 35 percent calcium, 45 percent iron and 47 percent copper.

To get the same amount of nutrition people will need to eat much more food. The increase in “yields” of empty mass does not translate into more nutrition. In fact it is leading to malnutrition. The IAASTD recognizes that through an agroecological approach “agro-ecosystems of even the poorest societies have the potential through ecological agriculture and IPM to meet or significantly exceed yields produced by conventional methods, reduce the demand for land conversion for agriculture, restore ecosystem services (particularly water) reduce the use of and need for synthetic fertilizers derived from fossil fuels, and the use of harsh insecticides and herbicides.”

Our 25 years of experience in Navdanya shows that ecological, organic farming is the only way to produce food without harming the planet and people’s health. This a a trend that will grow, no matter how many pseudo scientific stories are planted in the media by the industry. (full text).

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