Rodale Institute has been running a side-by-side comparison of organic
and chemical agriculture since 1981.
After an initial decline in yields during the first few years of
transition, the organic system soon rebounded to match or surpass the
conventional system. Over time, FST became a comparison between the long
term potential of the two systems.
And now comes evidence from the very heart of Big Ag: rural Iowa, where
Iowa State University's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture runs
the Long-Term Agroecological Research Experiment (LTAR), which began in
1998, which has just released its latest results.
At the LTAR fields in Adair County, the (LTAR) runs four fields: one
managed with the Midwest-standard two-year corn-soy rotation featuring
the full range of agrochemicals; and the other ones organically managed
with three different crop-rotation systems. The chart below records the
yield averages of all the systems, comparing them to the average yields
achieved by actual conventional growers in Adair County:
Norman Borlaug, instigator of the "green revolution"
of no-till and pesticides, when asked in 2000
whether organic agriculture could feed the world, said:
Quail Hollow Farm was holding a Farm-to-Fork dinner for invited guests,
when a health inspector showed up and forced them to destroy the food.
video of the event
you can hear the arrogance of the inspector:
That's all the information you need.
Well, no, it's not.
The inspector said it was a public event because the guests had paid for d inner.
The farmer eventually called their lawyer who said ask the inspector
to see her warrant.
She had none.
But they had already been told their food that they grew with their own hands
was not fit for a public dinner, nor a private dinner, not even to feed
to their pigs.
They were forced to pour bleach on it, making it unfit even for compost.
Given that every food contamination recall in recent years has come
from big factory farms, not from small organic farms,
does this raid seem right to you?
The 83 family farmers, small and family owned seed businesses, and
agricultural organizations challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically
modified seed filed papers in federal court (13th August 2011) defending
their right to seek legal protection from the threat of being sued by
Monsanto for patent infringement should they ever become contaminated
by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. The
Public Patent Foundation
(PUBPAT) represents the plaintiffs in the suit, titled Organic Seed
Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA), et al. v. Monsanto and pending
in the Southern District of New York. The August 13 filings respond to
a motion filed by Monsanto in mid-July to have the case dismissed. In
support of the plantiffs’ right to bring the case, 12 agricultural
organizations also filed a friend-of-the-court
“Rather than give a straight forward answer on whether they would sue
our clients for patent infringement if they are ever contaminated by
Monsanto’s transgenic seed, Monsanto has instead chosen to try to deny
our clients the right to receive legal protection from the courts,”
said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director. “Filings include
sworn statements by several of the plaintiffs themselves explaining to
the court how the risk of contamination by transgenic seed is real and
why they cannot trust Monsanto to not use an occurrence of contamination
as a basis to accuse them of patent infringement.”
This goes well beyond control of seeds, of course, and beyond the plaintiffs:
Purveyors of conventional and genetically-modified (GM) crops — and the
pesticides and herbicides that accompany them — are finally getting a
taste of their own legal medicine. Minnesota's Star Tribune has reported
that the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that a large organic
farm surrounded by chemical-laden conventional farms can seek damages for
lost crops, as well as lost profits, caused by the illegal trespassing
of pesticides and herbicides on its property.
Oluf and Debra Johnson's 1,500-acre organic farm in Stearns County,
Minn., has repeatedly been contaminated by nearby conventional and
GMO farms since the couple started it in the 1990s. A local pesticide
cooperative known as Paynesville Farmers Union (PFU), which is near the
farm, has been cited at least four times for violating pesticide laws,
and inadvertently causing damage to the Johnson's farm.
The first time it was realized that pesticides had drifted onto the
Johnson's farm in 1998, PFU apologized, but did not agree to pay for
damages. As anyone with an understanding of organic practices knows,
even a small bit of contamination can result in having to plow under
that season's crops, forget profits, and even lose the ability to grow
organic crops in the same field for at least a couple years.
And all most people have done so far is let it slide.
But the Johnsons did something.