Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farming

Marginally arable land, rural golf courses, and millions of acres in the federal Conservation Reserve Program are being farmed.  Farmers are tearing down fences and structures and uprooting trees,  to be able to get in a few more rows of planting.  This is immediate dangerous to land and water, and unsustainable over time.    Read about it here.

The force pushing more land into production is the rise in crop prices: in the past five years corn prices tripled and those for soybeans doubled because of swelling worldwide demand, including demand for ethanol production. At the same time yields have spiked because of genetically engineered crops and improvements in farming technology, which are also allowing farmers to grow in previously inhospitable areas.

I just read somewhere yesterday that 60% of the corn grown in the U.S. is a recently developed hybrid that is toxic to corn root worm.  The high use rate is due to the resistance this hybrid offers, without requiring the use of pesticides.  This is part of the reason for the high yields mentioned in the quote above.  The downside is that the root worm - quite predictably - is developing resistance, and re-invading the corn fields. I can't find where I read about it, but you can read about it here.

Maybe my reptile brain is taking over and I'm getting needlessly alarmist.  But I'm connecting these dots with a global warming dot. Unsustainable farming practices, failure of pest-resistant hybrids, and a changing global temperature pattern could combine to cause some sort of massive systemic failure.

What chance do you see for a major world-wide food crisis in 5, 10, or 20 years?

I think the chances are quite good that the outcome will be really bad.


2 comments:

Jerry Critter said...

We also use a large part, maybe a majority, of our farmland to feed animals rather than feed ourselves.

Jazzbumpa said...

Yeah. That can't help.

JzB