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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

cownoseNice editorial in the New York Times yesterday about progress with the government’s efforts to curb the use of antibiotics as a growth promotion tool in livestock. Sadly, I am one of the skeptics mentioned in the article.

First of all, you have to look at the economics. Commodity farmers use antibiotics because it is profitable to do so. Put antibiotics in the feed—animals grow faster (nobody yet knows why). More importantly, if you don’t put antibiotics in the feed, you will be competed out of business by those who do. This is the same dynamic as the doping problem in professional sports. If you can’t stop elite athletes from putting harmful illegal drugs into their own bodies to make money, how can we expect to stop conventional farmers from doing it to their livestock—especially with a voluntary labeling program?

(Just in case it is not clear—we do not put antibiotics or added hormones in our feed.)

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0315-nat-ERIE_webI was just reading the combined EPA and NRCS response to a recent article in the New York Times about agricultural runoff polluting Lake Erie. My heart goes out to them—seriously. It is so ironic after they finally licked the problem of industrial and municipal waste pollution in the lake. And even more ironic: one of the causes of the new agricultural pollution is the no-till farming system that is intended to prevent soil erosion.

I’m not saying we have all the answers. We don’t. That is why I feel so bad for them. We all are working hard to make food and to protect the environment. You fix one thing and another thing breaks. Plus, nobody is immune to unintended bad consequences. But in our struggle to produce quality food and to protect the environment, we have chosen a very different path. We are not putting chemical fertilizers on the ground at all—not to mention herbicides or pesticides. I look at this picture and thank goodness for that choice.

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