Organic or GM: The Environment or Starvation?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Big_Duke_Six, Apr 18, 2007.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Organic Food is good for the environment but will not feed the world. GM Food will feed the starving but wreck the environment in the process. Is it really this simple?

    The Today Program just caried an intreresting debate on the relative merits of GM and Organic food with respect to feeding the world's burgeoning population. There were some clearly agenda-driven items: on one side "do we want to see half of Scotland covered in oilseed rape in order to meet Europe's directives on bio-fuel?" and on the other "GM crops have no proven yield crops have globally been found to have higher yields" However, some interesting observations came out.

    More affluent people eating less meat (China's meat consumption has doubled in the last 10 years) and using crops to feed people instead of cattle will have a dramatic effect on world starvation - nothing new here. However, is it a better use of land to grop crops for biofuel and reduce carbon emissions by maybe a couple of % or to use that land to grow food?

    What was not asked, but might be relevant, is whether global warming might allow double harvests and therefore increase food production, although Lord Melchett (chairman of the organic food Soil Association) did mention using the sun's power to grow bigger crops, not fertiliser - well he would, wouldn't he? Whether global warming is due to the sun or not is the subject of another thread.

    Interestingly, Naughtie introduced the piece by asking whether we were self sufficient in terms of food production. I assume he must have meant on a global scale, because in the UK we haven't been self sufficient since well before WW2 which is why we had rationing into the 50's. Even now, UK farmers can only produce about 30% of our requirements and DEFRA's current "incentives" will only serve to reduce that amount as more and more farmers give up the unequal struggle.

    David Miliband, are you listening?

    Edited to add this Telegraph link:Growing demand for biofuels 'could lead to food shortages'
  2. "Organic" is a term used by the food industry to add a further 10% to its price
  3. Slightly off-topic but IIRC somwhere during my studies I read that when the UK had rationing the incidence of Ischaemic Heart Disease, Cancer etc. actually fell due to a restricted meat ration. Also I saw this morning on TV an Infommercial ( I hate that fcuking word but thats what it was!) from Tesco showing their new, healthy food marking scheme.

    The gist was - the greener it was, the healthier it was and the redder it was - the greater the treat :!:

    Maybe the answer is a more reliance on a more balanced diet involving more greens, grains and TVP.

    As for the Energy bit - Nuclear Power is the way - but nobody likes the answer.
  4. Following the recent success of growing human tissue in a laboratory, there is an option to grow meat for human consumption in the same way. Does away with the animal welfare debate as well.
  5. Soylent Green?
  6. You need to look in to what "Organic" means. The crops are still sprayed with all manner of pesticides, they just use less, and target them more effectivily. Seams nice right, but it puts hug pressure on insects and plants to become resistant very quickly. Short term gain, long term loss.

    As for GM, much more carefull study needs to be done to find the effects on other species.
  7. Pardon?

  8. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator

    We need a bloody good plague to cull the numbers in the world today. I reckon a world wide population decrease of about 40% will bring things back into alignment.........
  9. Yeah, that's what they say. Organic farmers still use pesticides like Copper, though, and other stuff. The basic rule of thumb is that if was invented a long time ago, that makes it safe. Didn't work for Asbestos, though.
  10. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    That's not quite how I understand it. Many of the GM varieties on the market are designed for pesticide resistance rather than bug or mould resistance.

    There is an awful lot of money in pesticides, just ask ICI and the like.

    Now, the GM crop producers will tell you that the crop is not harmful to human health or the surrounding environment, but what they won't tell you is that the new and more 'effective' pesticides they can now use on those self-same crops is a lot more harmful to both the surrounding countryside AND your health.

    Edited: God awful spelling what?
  11. The whole GM debate is hiding other problems, though. Most worryingly is that in 50-odd years of agribusiness, intensive farming methods have exhausted the topsoil in our productive regions. If it wasn't for the vast amounts of fertiliser put onto the soil these days, we'd produce pitifully small yields of sickly plants. Consequently, farming is ever more dependant on the chemical industry for artificial means of sustaining productivity.

    This is probably one of the drivers behind the development of GM crops - a need for plants that are ever more efficient at gathering and using nutrition. A useful side effect of intensive cross-breeding is that many of the end results are sterile and can't reproduce, so where you have one strain with a high crop yield it's economically viable for farmers to come back for more seed each and every year.

    Built in redundancy in living organisms? Bit creepy, if you ask me.
  12. That ain't how it works though, mate. The crops need weeding whatever, whether it's Ukrainians with hoes or herbicides. Farmers either use herbicides which can be harmful to the environment, or Glyphosate (Roundup like you get at the garden centre), which is only harmful to green plants. Herbicides they use now don't kill the crop, but normally don't kill all the weeds. They were discovered by someone inventing a chemical, and spraying it on a load of crops and weeds. If one died and the other didn't, then they started all the safety tests they have to do now.

    If they make a GM crop plant that is resistant to Roundup, then all the weeds die, but the crop doesn't. If you don't spray the Roundup, then you stilll get weeds and crop, and I guess in your WWII scenario, we use the PoW's to do the weeding.

    The Greens like to say how the 'new' herbicides (Roundup has been around since the 1970's :roll: ) are more powerful, so more dangerous. That works with bombs and rockets, but not with herbicides. The people who invent these things are smarter than that, AND they work for American companies which are scared stiff of litigation. Roundup is neither hard to make, dangerous to use or expensive for farmers to buy (around £2 a litre, but in the garden centre you will get fleeced for around £20. Isn't it sh1t being a profit opportunity). And it's off patent, which means that anyone can make it, and lots of people do.
  13. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    Nice thinking on the litigation issue. I'd like to point you in the direction of DU rounds, Aspartame and Asbestos, no to mention Thalidomide. These people may be rather clever, but that cleverness is directed to efficiency and profit, with the eyes in the BACK of the head looking at potential litigation issues.
  14. The problem with targeting specific groups is that you force then into resistance, and then what do you do?

    As for the lable organic, it just means that they don't use certain chemicals, and the ones they do use are under set limits. Copper and sulfer are just two of the heavy metels that are used by organic growers. Also most industrail seed has two or three protective coatings added before its even sold, is that still organic?