Similarities In The Criticisms Of Industrial Agriculture Made By Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, And Vandana Shiva And Their Visions Of Better Farming

1134 words - 5 pages

    With the continuous evolution of global industrialization and mechanization of agriculture since early 20th century, traditional farming that relied heavily on the labor of humans and animals has been gradually replaced by a modern form of capital intensive farming, considered more “efficient” through the application of science and engineering. Despite the fact that industrial agriculture has brought a rapid increase in world food production, it has also attracted criticisms and demands for a better form of agriculture. Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, and Vandana Shiva, the three environmental activists, have all claimed in their essays and speech that, industrialized agriculture has negative impacts on our environment, farming economy, and the survival of traditional farmers. They all call for a better kind of agriculture that is more sustainable, resilient with natural biodiversity.
    Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, and Vandana Shiva have all claimed that the massive use of chemical herbicide and fertilizer in industrial agriculture has contributed to the environmental degradation such as soil erosion and water pollution, as well as the adverse effects on agriculture. Pollan concludes, in “Mass Nature”, that the “cheap” industrial food does not count “costs charged to the environment, in the form of soil depletion and water pollution”. Similarly, Wendell Berry, in his “The Agrarian Standard”, said “the continuing unsustainably high soil erosion rates” has uncovered the fact “We continue to pollute our soils and streams agricultural poisons”. What’s worse, the rise of “super-pests” as the resistance to pesticides, has forced the farmers to use ever-stronger pesticides which have put the already vulnerable environment into an infinite loop. Vandana Shiva, argued in the video “Seeds of Freedom”, that “Instead of controlling pests, and controlling weeds, you are getting super pests, and super weeds. So even in the narrow domain of weed control and pest control, the technology is failing.”.
    Not only does the industrial farming harms our environment, but also it hurts our farming economy according to Pollan’s, Berry’s, and Shiva’s criticisms. Pollan, in“Mass Nature”, reveals the invisible cost of “cheap” industrial food such as the cost to the public purse, “in the form of subsidies to conventional commodity farms”, and the economic cost of more than $100 billion per year on the epidemic of diabetes and obesity caused by the industrial corn sweeteners in soft drinks. Berry, in “The Agrarian Standard”, also indicates the disadvantages that industrial agriculture has put on the local economy. “Industrialism prescribes an economy that is placeless and displacing. It is about the gathering of an exploitive economic power into the hands of a few people who are alien to the places and the people they exploit. Such an economy is bound to destroy locally adapted agrarian economies everywhere it goes, simply because it is too ignorant not to do so.”...

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