Monday, May 25, 2009

"Soil Not Oil"

I've been meaning to link to this interview with Vandana Shiva, India’s leading environmental activist, in the Urbanite's April Green Issue for weeks now but I guess I let those peonies take precedent. The tension between traditional and industrial agriculture is a big and important issue that needs to be addressed globally. From the interview:

Q But if you have to feed more than a billion people, as farmers in India do, isn’t it impractical to hang on to traditional farming methods?

A Here, they want to connect all of India with superhighways, and 90 percent of the roads haven’t been built. They won’t be built because of the financial collapse. So this huge dream of a totally motorized world and tractorized agriculture is already failing in front of our eyes. It failed in Cuba under very tragic circumstances—under [the U.S.-imposed] trade embargo. But they rebuilt their agriculture [based on] principles that ancient cultures practiced. Now I don’t call that being locked into tradition. It’s highly innovative.I see fossil-fuel-free farming as a future of agriculture—not because of nostalgia, not because of romanticism, but because of a very hard-nosed realism. If your fertilizer prices have tripled in the past year, there is no way to carry on depending on chemical fertilizers. If your phosphate requirements in chemical agriculture are going to run out in the next twenty years, you’d better get ecological, organic sources. To depend on an agriculture that requires oil inputs at every step would be developing a system at this point that has no future.

Expect to see Shiva's book, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis on my list of recommendations once I pick it up and finish it.

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