Patrick over at PopeHat tees off on sustainable farming advocacy in the New York Times:
The question is whether “sustainable agriculture” — here defined (and not by Patrick, whom you’d otherwise be tempted to accuse of building a straw man and setting it afire) as “non-technological farming” — can sustain a world population above six billion. Patrick notes at the end of his rant, and I want to deal with this first because it’s germane to the post title, that most of the people affected by a switch to “non-technological farming” are, erm, not white:
Forty percent of the world’s population is in India and China. To farm sustainably, and without technology, the Indians and the Chinese are going to have to leave the cities, where for some reason they prefer to be, to go back to the rice paddies they’ve spent the past two decades trying to escape.
Has the United Nations told them? Has the Times?
Do they know what the United Nations of the far future has planned for them? And what would they think of it, if they knew?
Inconveniently, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of India are both nuclear powers. I’ll just leave that there. (And as an aside, the cataclysmic rise in food prices you’d get if you switched the world to “non-technological farming” would probably be felt most severely in Africa. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that most Africans are, erm, not white.)
But that’s okay! No, not the racism, the food-price thing. See, a Very Clever Man from the United Nations has it all figured out:
Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the Right to Food, presented a report entitled “Agro-ecology and the Right to Food.”
Agro-ecology and related methods are going to require resources too, but they’re more in the form of labor, both intellectual — much research remains to be done — and physical: the world will need more farmers, and quite possibly less mechanization.
The question of whether de Schutter and — oh hey it’s our good friend Mark Bittman — see themselves providing the extra intellectual labour or instead providing the extra physical labour is left as an exercise for the reader.