If you listen to NPR, (which is fine, so long as you donâ€™t miss Howard on your local affiliate) you might have been surprised to hear a story that ran last week on the program Marketplace that sounded as if it were written by Monsanto itself.
The report, entitled "The Non-Organic Future," claimed that the only way to feed the world is to give poor farmers fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified seeds.
Pedro Sanchez, a proponent of industrial agriculture who works as a soil scientist at Columbia University, is the mouthpiece for the absurd proposition that soil is "like a bank account, you've got to have a positive balance, and if you deposit only organics, you're going to go broke."
In a comment posted at Marketplace's website, Anna LappÃ©, author of Diet for a Hot Planet, pointed to a gaping hole in their reporting: the failure to acknowledge the 2009 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD) Report, a joint project of the U.N. and the World Bank, among other agencies. Here's Anna's apt description of the report:
"The groundbreaking study brought together 400 experts who worked for 4.5 years to explore the most efficient, productive, and sustainable strategy for feeding the world. The conclusion - quite the opposite of the one reached by those quoted in this segment - stated in no uncertain terms that we must move away from chemical- and fossil[-fuel]-dependent agriculture, which by the way includes biotech.
"Business as usual is not an option, was the radical consensus. Instead, small-scale and mid-scale agroecological farming holds our best hope for feeding the world safe, healthy food, all without undermining our natural capital."
As the IAASTD report shows, Sanchez's view is hardly the only or even the dominant view among development experts about how to "feed the world." Indeed, if there is a consensus, Sanchez's views are in the minority.
Listeners might chalk the whole thing up to sloppy reporting, if it weren't for the fact that over the last couple of years, Marketplace has been underwritten by Monsanto, and the program's been running ads that tout Monsanto as a sustainable agriculture innovator! Rather than being sloppy, it turns out that the reporting is actually a carefully constructed thank-you gift for a prized advertiser!
If you find this type of corporate influence and media bias unacceptable, please ask American Public Media, producers of Marketplace, to stop spreading Monsanto's lies.
DIRT, May 2011