The Green Revolution Delusion: A False Promise
Written and published by Walt Davis & Tony Winslett
The term “green revolution” can be a little confusing because it sounds like it refers to a choice to use more environmentally friendly practices. In fact it has little to do with improving or protecting the environment and everything to do with increased production using hybrid grains that are smaller and easier to grow and harvest with chemical fertilizers and machinery.
The result has hardly been good for the environment as soil quality has deteriorated and millions of tons of that soil have dried up and blown into the ocean. The chemicals have saturated the environment and created dead zones in gulfs and oceans where those chemicals run off the land.
This book discusses that but concentrates even more on the devastating impact to human life, health, farms and communities. The industrial farming paradigm views the small farm as an inefficient pest. “Get big or get out” became the catchphrase in the 1970s. Productivity has increased considerably in the short run but soil resources are being steadily depleted. The argument that we need industrial agriculture to feed the world may sound good now but when our soil has been completely devitalized, industrial agriculture won’t be feeding anybody.
Davis and Winslett bring up two of the more disturbing developments in the field of genetic engineering. A letter from Dr. Don Huber is reproduced near the beginning of the book detailing the discovery of a new pathogen that seems to be associated with Roundup Ready alfalfa, soy and other GM crops. This pathogen greatly impairs the fertility of both plant and animal species. It is rare for a single pathogen to be this broadly destructive.
The second development revolves around a genetically modified bacterium that converts cellulose into alcohol. In the lab it worked very well and just before it was to be released commercially a curious student decided to see what happened when it was put into greenhouse soil. It converted all organic matter to alcohol and killed everything. Nothing survived.
Had this little monster gotten out into nature, life as we know it might have come to an end. But for the curiosity of a student we might have witnessed one of the greatest catastrophes ever. But don’t worry. The biotech industry assures us this stuff is safe and nothing serious could go wrong.
Speaking of the absurd, common raw milk legislation around the country is exposed for the nonsense that it is. The standard excuse for most of the regulation is safety. Many states only allow raw milk sales from the farm. Apparently if raw milk is sold somewhere other than the farm it is dangerous. Other states don’t allow advertising because that would make the milk unsafe.
I do like the philosophy promoted in the book that we should make our decisions based on what is honorable, not what is legal. As bureaucrats, politicians and legislators become more corrupt, the gap between what is legal and what is honorable gets wider and wider.
The authors wrote this as a novel, not a non-fiction text. I am doubtful that the storyline is engaging enough to propel this novel to the bestseller list. For more serious scholars looking for information I wouldn’t expect them to turn to novels, so I’m a little baffled at such a strategy. There is a lot of good, non-fictitious information in the book, so I do give it a thumbs UP.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2016.