How The Worst Kind of Conventional Farming is Killing our Food

dark wheat field

Big Ag prefers the mono-crop model (growing the same crop on the same plot of land each year without any crop rotation), and it isn’t for the reasons you might surmise. Want to know why large corporations have turned extremely bio-diverse prairie lands into acres and acres of single-crop plants that require mass doses of pesticides and herbicides as well as industrial fertilizers? Read on to find out.

Permaculture consultant, designer, and teacher Geoff Lawton explains the phenomenon of mono-cropping immaculately. Our prairie lands once supported huge herds of animals as well as other creatures large and small in a sequenced series of life-support that was sustainable. That is – before these lands were turned into GMO corn and soy crops.

The once bio-diverse prairie lands were also replete with a variety of plants that would fix nitrogen in the soil and add other important nutrients that made for strong, healthy plants we could eat.

Plants that didn’t require excessive amounts of pesticides. Make mo mistake though, the planting going on today isn’t to ‘feed the world’ as makers of GMOs keep spewing. The shift from crop rotation and other sustainable farming practices to mono-cultures were inspired by petrochemical companies.

Although much of the GMO corn and soy grown today is also used to feed livestock (much to the dismay of farmers who notice their animals developing fertility issues and cancerous tumors), these mono-crops are grown primarily to provide ethanol, a heavily subsidized fuel supported by the US government.

Besides, who wants to consume meat that is raised within the industrial system of production in which:

. . .“meat animals are “finished”—prepared for slaughter—at large-scale facilities called CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), where their mobility is restricted and they are fed a high-calorie, grain-based diet, often supplemented with antibiotics and hormones, to maximize their weight gain. Their waste is concentrated and becomes an environmental problem, not the convenient source of fertilizer that manure can be for more diverse, less massively scaled farms.”

Furthermore, mono-cropped fields have soil that is completely exposed, and is subject to run off. It is also vulnerable to other nutrient issues since the only crop in a mono-cropping system robs the soil of its future fertility and doesn’t replace nutrients taken from the crop being grown. Mono-cropping, in fact, triggers soil degradation!

What’s more, huge dead-zones are created in our oceans from run-off caused by this method of agriculture. Our fish and other aquatic life are now swimming in huge amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Some life is choked out while forms of dangerous algae grow like wildfire, causing oxygen depletion hypoxia.

Traditional farming practices that utilize crop rotation have indeed proven to surpass crop yields of GMO and mono-crop systems, yet they are still used heavily in the modern agricultural model. Lawton talks about food forests, as well as other remedies to a paradigm that has failed us miserably. Yet these practices are often ignored.

Clone consistency in the GMO model isn’t helping us. The hubris of the scientists who keep claiming that this production method will feed more people is stultifying, and wrong.

Cropping for Fuel

Big Ag wasn’t trying to feed us when this model was developed – it was trying to feed cars! According to Technology Review, GMOs have increased ethanol fuel production by over 50%.

The rest of the world looks to alternative models of energy production, yet America is notorious for being fossil-fuel dependent. Our current president even once campaigned for a reduction in fossil fuel dependency, but it was on his watch that our regulatory agencies were allowed to appoint Monsanto VPs and paid off diplomats to keep this oil addiction going.

“Our addiction to fossil fuels is one of the most serious threats to our national security in the twenty-first century,” Barack Obama declared.

Even George W. Bush once pronounced that, “America is addicted to oil.”

The Obama administration is backing numerous expensive corn subsidies for 2015, and it isn’t just the democrats who have supported this malarkey. Tax payers, believe it or not, are actually paying for the GMO corn that litters our landscape.

Consider these facts about corn grown in the US, provided by the USDA:

  • Most of the crop is used as the main energy ingredient in livestock feed.
  • Corn is also processed into a multitude of food and industrial products including starch, sweeteners, corn oil, beverage and industrial alcohol, and fuel ethanol.
  • The United States is a major player in the world corn trade market, with approximately 20 percent of the corn crop exported to other countries.

But even our GMO corn exports are being refused now. China has sent back or seized over 887,000 tonnes of corn after detecting GMOs.

As Lawton suggests, it is time to look at permaculture systems instead. They can start in people’s own backyards, only to grow to a larger scale. From composting to chop-and-drop, to mixing plant-varieties, there is a better way to feed the billions on this planet.

It is time to turn away from mono-cropping promoted by chemical companies. Mono cropping isn’t feeding people at all – it is only feeding a bad habit.

Check out these informative videos:

Permaculture Principles in Application ‒ Geoff Lawton

The Beginning of My Backyard Permaculture Set-Up

Everything You Know About Composting is Wrong: Mike McGrath at TEDxPhoenixville