To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

May 11, 2008

'Green' farming 'science' is as crazy as global warming 'science'

By Dennis Avery*

Do today’s soaring food prices and Third World food riots mean we’re headed for global famine?

Not any time soon—if we suspend the biofuels mandates quickly. Unfortunately, if we keep burning corn, wheat, and palm oil in our vehicles, there’s no limit to the hunger, malnutrition, wildlife extinction and political disruption we can cause.

The problem is simple: Food demand is inelastic. People need about the same number of calories whether they’re expensive or cheap. But the demand for biofuels is almost without limit. An acre of corn produces only 50 gallons worth of gasoline per acre, while humans worldwide burn more than a trillion gallons of gasoline per year.

Biofuels could absorb the whole world’s crop production without bringing down gasoline prices—because we’re banning coal and refusing to drill for oil. If we want to keep on eating, we’ll have to scrap the false “fuel security” of the biofuels.

Even giving up biofuels won’t stave off the world’s hunger for long, because we’ll need more than twice as much food and feed per year by 2050. The number of humans is likely to peak at about 8 billion, up from today’s 6.4 billion, and at least 7 billion of them are likely to be affluent enough to eat meat and ice cream. They’ll have fewer children—but more pets, few of them vegetarian.

If the world plans to have forests, wildlands, and wildlife species in the 22nd century, then we’ll need to triple the crop yields on the land we already farm—just for food and feed. Except for a chunk of western Brazil, there isn’t much high-quality cropland left in the world for cropland expansion, and none of it “extra” for biofuels.

But the same people who don’t want us to burn coal are telling us not to raise high-yield crops either. Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund tell us not to use nitrogen fertilizer taken from the air. They demand organic-only nitrogen from cattle manure or green manure crops—but such low-yield systems produce only half as much food per acre.

We’re locked into the same “don’t use it” debate on food as on energy. Is the Greens’ information on high yield crops any better than their “advice” on global warming—which tells us to stop burning fossil fuels though the world has cooled over the last ten years?

The funding for farm science has declined sharply since Dr. Norman Borlaug led the Green Revolution and saved a billion people from starving. America’s land-grant universities are now researching how to farm organically, though such “research” has never produced a yield breakthrough. The high-yield studies are being done mainly by agribusiness—and by Bill Gates who has vowed to rekindle a Green Revolution for Africa whether the Greens like it or not.

Now, a big new report from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) has been cited as evidence that industrialized food production is screwing up the planet. This report was supposed to be the “big tent” laying out the consensus path for future agricultural research. The land-grant agriculture schools, Greenpeace, agribusiness, FAO, all were included. But, by the time the report was issued, only Greenpeace seemed to be at the drafting table.

And guess who’s in charge of this new “pattern for farming’s future”? Robert Watson, a British-born chemist who served as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 1997–2002.

What are the chances that the Greens’ farm science is any more honest than the IPCC’s global warming “science?"

*Dennis T. Avery directs the Center for Global Food Issues for the Hudson Institute of Washington, D.C.

Canada Free Press

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP