Letters: Why parts of the world resist the American way of agriculture

Dear editor,

Declaring the modern American agriculture (as) science-based and suggesting anything else is less than that, is a shallow statement. (Farmtario, Jan. 25, 2021. page 10; “Agriculture visions collide in Africa”.)

The “scientific” American agriculture has plenty of reason to do some soul searching when it comes to soil degradation, less than rigorous agro-chemical licensing (reckless tank mixing), and environmental damage, what I have to deal with on the daily basis as a long-time beekeeper. 

During my long career I have traveled to Asia, Africa, East-Europe to teach beekeeping, have workshops, speak on conferences. I have some first-hand experience with their way of farming. 

It is very misleading to equalize the GMO and supporting technology with science-based agriculture and degrading everything else less than that. I’ve seen extensive agricultural regions, which have never seen a single bag of fertilizer or ounce of pesticide and still the land has not only retained its fertility, but steadily increased (albeit slowly) its productivity during the past thousand years. 

When we object to the restriction to these so-called untapped markets for our GMO, chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides, aircraft-carrier-sized machinery, we should not forget the socio-economic roles of the agriculture sector especially in the Third World countries. 

In many poor countries the food production is the most important employer, which provides not only food but also employs a major part of the ever-exploding population and provides the only existing social safety net, binds the poor population to the land. 

Before we introduce intensive agriculture, based on our American way, we need to look into the potentially unemployed hundred millions work force as a consequence. They’d not only lose their jobs, but be uprooted and without any alternatives, will migrate to the already overpopulous urban centres and refugee camps. 

Europe faces the real concern, because sooner or later that flood of poverty-driven refugees will show up at shore of the Mediterranean, which can be crossed even by a dinghy as oppose to the Americas, which is protected by the Atlantic. 

You don’t want to disrupt this way of life for any profit. Yes, we can make these farmers’ lives easier, especially their production more reliable (by drought, salt tolerant varieties), but not by unleashing the agro-conglomerates on them without any social responsibility. I’m fully aware of the very useful traits of the GMO seeds, but I don’t think we have reached the full potential when it comes to the natural gene pool and traditional breeding methods. 

I accept the fact that, this is not the job of the profit-oriented conglomerates, however they should participate in it. This isn’t our humanitarian responsibility only, but maybe our existence depends on it too.

I should not get into the negative side of our food production, which is also well documented concern of the “other” science. My bees as bio-indicators also show without any expensive instruments and precious tests, what is the foot print of our American way of agriculture. When we look at the history, the farmers can’t be very proud as a champion of environment protection. Someone just needs to look at the long list of the science-based licensed and later-revoked pesticides, of which none of them was initiated by the farm industry. 

So, maybe it is irritating for the GMO and agriculture controlling conglomerates to be shut out from Europe (which is not true literally), and finger pointing the fact they have their own agri-chemicals doesn’t meant they should fling open the gates for any others as well. 

Tibor Csincsa,
Holland Centre, Ont.

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