Following Up on Dr. Borlaug

A quick follow-up: I cleaned up yesterday’s post on Dr. Norman Borlaug, trimmed it to under 1,000 words, and the good folks at MercatorNet published it today.

And if I could clarify one thing for all of you: I am not a “supporter” of the industrial agriculture model that developed as a result of Dr. Borlaug’s work. But neither am I so deluded as to believe that model can be overturned any time soon, or that — given how the agricultural industry has developed — it would be possible to replace that model overnight with anything that would be nearly as effective in meeting global nutritional needs. That was my point in citing the example of synthetic fertilizer; I’d prefer to see more grass-based livestock operations that are not as reliant on monocultures and row crops, and therefore not as much in need of fertilizer — but that’s not the reality of modern agriculture, and isn’t something that will change any time soon. I think it’s important to emphasize that even if we may not like some of the consequences the green revolution has spawned, and even if we think some of its farming practices should be changed, we need to be honest in admitting that hundreds of millions of people are alive today who likely would have starved to death without that revolution.

Is the nutritional content of those people’s food as good as it could be? Of course not. Can we do better? Absolutely. But we need to start somewhere, and I celebrate the “pro-life” achievements of Dr. Borlaug’s green revolution. And will continue to do everything I can to produce higher quality food for my family, and to encourage others to produce higher quality food for their own families, using more sustainable farming techniques.

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