Placeholder Banner

The Argument in "America's Food Crisis and How to Fix It," is Not Sustainable

August 27, 2009
I’m almost ready to cancel my subscription to Time after reading this unbalanced and inaccurate article (“America’s Food Crisis and How to Fix It,” August 31, 2009). Probably most galling, is Bryan Walsh’s twisting of the term “sustainable” so it suits his obvious pro-organic bias.

As a wife and mother, the food choices I make for my family are a top priority. Fortunately in the United States, consumers have many choices, in addition to having the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. These are some of the factors that define sustainability.

According to the USDA, “sustainable” agriculture describes farming systems that are “capable of maintaining their productivity and usefulness to society indefinitely. Such systems are resource-conserving, socially supportive, commercially competitive, and environmentally sound.”

As you point out, less than one percent of American cropland is farmed organically. This is because organic practices can’t be implemented on a large enough scale to be considered “sustainable” as in “capable of maintaining their productivity” and “commercially competitive.”

If we’re going to feed a growing global population – an issue of concern to world leaders – we need proven agriculture and food production systems that benefit from science and technology. We need farming practices that produce more food on less land. We need crops and livestock that are resistant to diseases and pests and are tolerant of adverse climate conditions. We need to produce more food with fewer costs while reducing our environmental impact.

Organic practices, while virtuous, only provide food for a small percentage of consumers in developed nations. Believing we can feed the world with organic agriculture is naïve. Believing that organic agriculture and sustainable agriculture are one in the same is simply ill informed.