Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ignored Agriculture Study Illustrates Why Corporate Power Hurts Common People

The New York Times reports on a USDA funded study conducted by the University of Iowa that illustrates that farming can be done with fewer chemicals.
The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer.

The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn’t reduce profits by a single cent.

In short, there was only upside — and no downside at all — associated with the longer rotations.
I admit that I haven't searched every South Dakota newspaper to see if this article has been picked up, but I couldn't find the study mentioned in the Argus Leader or the Yankton Press & Dakotan. The Times points out that many publications seem to ignore this study; it has been ignored by " has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture." The article documents the journals that might fear corporate repercussions if they publish the findings.
The agency declined to comment when I asked about it. One can guess that perhaps no one at the higher levels even knows about it, or that they’re afraid to tell Monsanto about agency-supported research that demonstrates a decreased need for chemicals. (A conspiracy theorist might note that the journals Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences both turned down the study. It was finally published in PLOS One; I first read about it on the Union of Concerned Scientists Web site.)
The Times points to the obvious conclusion:
So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons.
Since the people who have the knowledge and are willing to work smart aren't going to increase Monsanto's bottom line, it's obvious that the sponsor of most corporate agriculture practices will continue to prefer poisons to people.


caheidelberger said...

Charlie Johnson would love to read this article!

LK said...

I hope he followed the link from Madville. I'm still a Facebook Conscientious Objector