Norman Borlaug. For those who don’t know the name, he is the father of the Green Revolution. In the 1960s, while the likes of Paul Ehlrich were predicting widespread famine as a result of population growth, Borlaug was finding solutions. Borlaug is one of the reasons why agriculture works for us today.
Even so, many of his arguments go largely unnoticed. We so easily fall prey to the fad of the season that we ignore age-old wisdom. Here is an excerpt from an April 2000 interview with Borlaug by Reason.com:
Reason: What do you think of organic farming? A lot of people claim it’s better for human health and the environment.
Borlaug: That’s ridiculous. This shouldn’t even be a debate. Even if you could use all the organic material that you have–the animal manures, the human waste, the plant residues–and get them back on the soil, you couldn’t feed more than 4 billion people. In addition, if all agriculture were organic, you would have to increase cropland area dramatically, spreading out into marginal areas and cutting down millions of acres of forests.
At the present time, approximately 80 million tons of nitrogen nutrients are utilized each year. If you tried to produce this nitrogen organically, you would require an additional 5 or 6 billion head of cattle to supply the manure. How much wild land would you have to sacrifice just to produce the forage for these cows? There’s a lot of nonsense going on here.
If people want to believe that the organic food has better nutritive value, it’s up to them to make that foolish decision. But there’s absolutely no research that shows that organic foods provide better nutrition. As far as plants are concerned, they can’t tell whether that nitrate ion comes from artificial chemicals or from decomposed organic matter. If some consumers believe that it’s better from the point of view of their health to have organic food, God bless them. Let them buy it. Let them pay a bit more. It’s a free society. But don’t tell the world that we can feed the present population without chemical fertilizer. That’s when this misinformation becomes destructive.
How often do you see a rational argument about organic farming? How often do you see a humanitarian argument against organic farming? Not often enough. Borlaug has been saying this for half a century.
Full interview HERE.