Sunday, March 21, 2010

In a Pinch

Science is a tool, not a solution. Despite the advent of technology and industrial processes as positive contributors to our worlds civilizations, one of the trade offs has been the impending resignation as a species to our increasing dependence on science based foods.

In his book Stuffed and Starved, Raj Patel argues that there is enough food to feed the entire planet and targets the traders, processors and retailers at the pinch of the hourglass as responsible
for the estimated 800 million who are hungry and outweighed by the near 1 billion who are overweight. Thus if food availability is not the issue, why must we recruit science to provide for us? The November 2008 issue of Wired Magazine is an excellent study of this question and takes the position that we are faced with a global food crisis that is in demand of a new green revolution, one that looks to science to lead the way in the 21st century and beyond. (see link to read the fine print: http://www.wired.com/special_multimedia/2008/ff_futurefood_1611 ) Their overview targets traditional and conventional farming systems as inefficient and unprofitable and claims that "biotechnology and genetics can improve our productivity and profitability." This is the underlying manifesto of our hourglass pinchers - up the production to increase profit.

In
addition to reinforcing Patel's claim of the imbalance between the stuffed and the starved, Wired breaks down the inputs that go into the production of our food and displays the output results that leave the reader to consider the implications: energy costs, transportation distances, nutritional additives, material costs, etc. Their analysis of these implications has led them to provide future farming alternatives in addition to reinforcing their claim mentioned above that supports biotechnology and genetic dependence. One utilizes science as a tool, the other as a solution. The divide between the two is the blurred zone that is representative of our transition from independence to dependence. The 'Future Farming' spread notably exploits weaknesses in our traditional farming practices and offers suggestions as to how man in tandem with technology can target the inefficiencies and improve our crop yields. It is this position I support in opposition to the 'What's Next' spread that displays the world's country's who are actively pursuing genetically modified crops, those who are not, and Wired's support for the continued research initiatives. Unfortunately the increasing dependence on science to provide initiates a secondary dependence on the modified crop: our expectations of corn are exceeding that of ourselves! For if the day comes that our natural earth cannot provide for the growth of our crops, science will be there to pick up the slack. And until then we must continue to challenge the hourglass pinchers before our resignation becomes official.

2 comments:

  1. I lost my hard copy so I traced it online, sorry I forgot to connect the link, just fixed it so you should be able to access now.

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