At the recent Southwest AG Summit, 600 growers, pest control advisors and other industry members listened to DuPont Production President Rik Miller say that global agriculture is up to the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. DuPont is a farm chemical company but is also involved in nutrition, transportation, safety, apparel, home and building construction and communications.
Miller said that crop protection materials (farm chemicals) must be “safer, greener and more sustainable. New technologies will set a new bar of performance. The answer to feeding the world is to get more yield from every acre.”
That is fine and dandy but there are serious problems to Miller’s statements. The first is that there’s no more arable land in the world. Even though farm chemicals might become safer and greener, they still pollute the environment. Take a look at the terrible air quality in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
Even though new, safer chemicals might produce higher yields, few Third World farmers can afford such costly fertilizers and pesticides. And if the developed nations were to assume the responsibility of feeding and caring for poor nations, transporting and storing the food would be difficult since few countries have adequate storage.
The 1970s Green Revolution produced higher yields and temporarily staved off famines, but even with the higher yields, pests and mice overcame the new strains. The higher yields were lost. Parched, leached and salted land now lies fallow and cannot be recovered. At the same time, worldwide water resources are scarcer and more irreclaimable as aquifers have dried up
Miller said: “Seed treatment technology will help crops generate the strongest biological yield and crop quality ever. . .while the population is increasing so is personal income and so is food consumption. Grain consumption was up 36 percent from the last decade.”
This is because the global population has increased by 750,000 since 2000. If DuPont can save the world, that’s great. But we environmentalists and population activists sure have our doubts.