Research 101: To Feed and Protect a World, Rein in Corporate Ag

Remember, that what you read on the internet is not always true and you have to research the sources first before you profess it as your proof.  If you don’t, and use the statements from the post as your evidence, you won’t be able to source out your statement.  That source is called evidence which you are frequently called upon to present.

Let’s start todays lesson with a recently published post on Andrea Brower’s HuffPo blog site titled, “To Feed and Protect the World, Rein in Corporate Ag.”  First off, note that it is a blog.  Blog can usually be opinion pieces but can’t be used as evidence.  There may be links to the evidence in it and that is what you must research out more.  Also in this blog post, there are multiple references to emotionally charged terms such as destructive, poison, toxic, untested, and so on.  These words are meant to evoke emotions in this piece.  Typical tactic of the A’ole GMO club to gain more followers.

Let’s take a closer look at what she’s saying in this blog post.

Problem 1:

“World Food Day serves as a reminder that nearly one billion people go hungry, despite there being more than enough food for all. With sustainability central to this year’s theme, the event also directed attention to the fact that our global food system is highly fossil fuel dependent and is a primary contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It is also rapidly degrading the soil, water, forest, genetic diversity and other resources that are vital to agricultural productivity, human health and all life.”

The World Food Day here in Hawaii turned out to be another anti-GMO march.  When you go to the actual website, there is no anti-GMO themes found anywhere on there, but Hawaii folks took up a notch.  There is no mention of the issues that Andrea takes up found on the site listed.  Hawaii folks decided to do their own interpretation apparently.  Take a look at the poster that was used.

The Hawaii Anti-GMO version of the World Food Day poster. Notice the background is Waikiki and hotels. Where’s the producers of food there?

Problem 2:

But moving in the direction of a sustainable and equitable food system requires reining in the power of transnational corporate agribusiness, and its drives to intensify and standardize production, privatize resources that were previously “common,” and monopolize the global food system.

Andrea makes a very broad statement here essentially meaning that there should be no corporate agribusiness.  No sources are used to back her statement up to support what she is saying.

Problem 3:

Smallholder agriculture currently feeds an estimated 70 percent of the world using only 30 percent of agricultural resources, while industrial agriculture sucks 70 percent of resources and only produces 30 percent of the world’s food.

When you click on her source for this information, you’re lead to Mark Bittman’s opinion piece in the NYT.  No sources, just his opinion.  He is also a food writer who had decided to take on the scientific literature somehow.

Problem 4:

The idea that a “free-market” (ie policy-facilitated monopolistic) corporate food system will somehow nourish us all has proven imaginary.

Note how she references her own blog on this point made.  Case closed for this reference already.

Problem 5:

We all pay the prices of a hungry, sick, progressively toxic and heating-up world, with the poorest paying the highest.

Yes, the consensus is there that there is climate change, but from this statement it sounds as if everyone is dying and being poisoned.  Why is it that more people are living longer lives and Hawaii being ranked as one of the healthiest states?

Problem 6:

On Kauai, experimental operations apply pesticides 250 to 300 days per year, 10 to 16 times per day.

Her source for this quote is a video.  The mention of a number doesn’t quite give the right perspective of the actual spraying which she implies as it is all fields, everyday.  That is not the case and it defies logic as to why entire fields are sprayed that often.  If these companies are all about making money as she claims, why would they waste it spraying so often?  Pesticides and the application of it costs money and over doing it would be a waste of money.

Problem 7:

On Kauai, our fragile ecology is undoubtedly impacted by the use of an estimated 18 tons of restricted use pesticides annually, as well as likely five times that amount of general use pesticides.

Once again, Andrea omits to mention that the true amount is actually 9.89 tons of RUPs according to the Department of Ag.  Sounds horrendous but when put into perspective, it comes out to the size of 5 standard cars that is used over 5600 acres by 5 companies.  They make up 13% of the RUPs used on Kauai.  The county uses nearly half of the RUPs and is exempted from this disclosure law.

Anyone can write anything about any issue and it is up to the reader to investigate the claims.  Of course, for many folks, there is no incentive to investigate.  Just believe.  Do your homework and read what the facts and find some background on what evidence is presented.  When everyone starts repeating the same numbers over and over, there’s something fishy going on.  When the real facts are pointed out to you, what will you have in retort?!  Nothing and the result is the usual statement, “Well, you must work for Monsanto then.”  And you’ve just proven your arguments invalid.

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