…American agriculture has become a magnet for negative attention from the professional, activist left. As a nation, if we are not careful, this underappreciated economic gem will cede its future to antibusiness activists who use a variety of political and regulatory ploys to substitute scare tactics for science in our food systems.
Over the past two decades, European activists have exported their Luddite views and implemented bans preventing the planting of bioengineered crops in all but four African nations: Sudan, Egypt, Burkina Faso and South Africa.
We are not immune to bad ideas. Dozens of states have considered affirmative labeling mandates in spite of a clear U.S. Food and Drug Administration standard for safety of all food products and a marketplace rich in information about our food including an Organic Standard.
America’s farmers are the linchpin meeting the increasing food demands of a rapidly growing middle class around the world. As population soars toward 9 billion people, we must understand what drives economic growth and where discovery is happening.
“The professional, activist left?” Hey, so’s your old man!
As an historical quibble, the Luddites of 1800s England were concerned with employment, not health; they wanted to break the machines that were replacing them, not ban the crops that were making them sick. Of course, “Luddite” is today generally applied to anyone who today resists technological advancement, but then again it’s not at all clear that GMOs aren’t a regression in human development and global health. So it’s arguable to posit that these latter-day Luddites are actually on the cutting edge.
More importantly, though, is Forbes’s commandment to, in part, “understand what drives economic growth.” Well. According to the Congressional Research Service, on average off-farm income accounted for a staggering 85% of farm household income in 2013. The average farmer can’t even contribute one-fifth of the household’s yearly take. Whatever might drive economic growth, it’s certainly not farming on an industrial scale; modern agribusiness farmers can’t even pitch in twenty cents to the dollar of what the house earns. Forbes sings the praises of the “science” and “discovery” of industrial agriculture, but it’s really a junk profession and its practitioners can’t even make enough off of it to survive. And he says agribusiness is “underappreciated!”