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Report Challenges Big Ag Interests

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The National Research Council, an independent influential scientific body, issued a report criticizing the current state of industrialized farming. The NRC has been around since 1916, and its mission is to provide elected leaders, policy makers, and the public with expert scientific advice.  Their report, “Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21ST Century”, criticizes the negative consequences of industrialized farming and calls for a more holistic approach to food production in the face if increasingly scarce resources and the growing threat of climate change.  The reports authors cite the negative impact on water tables in some agricultural areas and the significant pollution problems associated with nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizers and pesticides that “have infiltrated surface water and rivers, creating oxygen-starved zones in waterways.” The report also highlights the fact that industrial agriculture is the largest contributor of nitrous oxide and methane, both greenhouse gasses, in the United States.  The report also highlights the challenges farmers are faced in securing a proper living.  According to the report more than half of U.S. farm operators work off the farm to supplement their income and to obtain health care and retirement plans.  The report highlights the impact of rising costs on farmers and rural communities, primarily those costs associated with seed, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.  U.S. farm output between 1948 and 2008 increased by 158 percent according to NRC, and despite that increase which is needed to feed a growing population, the report calls for a new approach to sustainable farming.  A possible solution is an increase in organic cultivation.  Organic farming is growing as a percentage in the U.S., but it has a long way to go to rectify the damages Big Ag has wrought in the last 50 years.  For more information visit: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12832

Photo: Industrialized Farming     Photo Credit: Daily Mail UK

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