“In a country with more than half the rural residents in poverty, they wanted to eat today. And they wanted to restore their soil so they could eat tomorrow.” (pg 10)
“The designation ‘green revolution’ came from its offer of an economic antidote to ‘red revolutions,’ not from being environmentally friendly.” (pg 12) This shocked me! I had no idea– we talk about greenwashing all the time but I didn’t know the origins of the “green” movement.
The first half of the reading was brand new information for me. I don’t know a lot about GMO crops beyond the fact that they cause resistant pests and diseases and upset biodiversity in the fields and surrounding land. It was really eye-opening to learn that using fertilizer-dependent crops actually makes it harder to maintain soil integrity.
I’m also studying permaculture this semester, so it was really encouraging to read that there are movements for native varieties of corn and more holistic methods of intercropping and natural fertilizers and other enrichments of the soil. I especially think the parts that talked about the importance of irrigation were significant, because much of the agricultural areas Africa have been undergoing desertification due to these poor soil maintenance practices. Using intercropping and natural fertilizers can help reverse that process. I really hope more governments encourage those practices with subsidies and grants– but it looks like as long as GMO corps have a hold on the region that won’t happen.
Concerning the second half of the reading, I also knew that there had been lawsuits from Monsanto about farmers that accidentally cross-bred their crops with patented seeds because their fields were too close and were naturally cross-pollinated. But I didn’t really get the extent to which this happened, or how insidious it was.
“We need complex solutions to complex problems.” (pg 195)
GMOs really have messed with the genetics of native varieties of maize way too much. One or two genes of a plant designed for midwestern United States conditions are not going to thrive or results in good conditions/outcomes in a central Mexico environment. Or if they do, they threaten the integrity of every other vartiety of corn that grows anywhere near it. It’s a natural process– if you have pollinators in the area, they’ll go from field to field without caring about the genetics of the plants they pollinate. But as discussed in the previous chapter, many GMO plants are not designed to last more than a season or two without specific conditions, so they don’t reseed or regenerate at the same rate, meaning the integrity and outcomes of a native farmer’s crop is compromised.
More than seeds, the soil needs to be fixed. It needs to be naturally amended in a sustainable, long-term manner that increases soil biodiversity and structure to enrich the crops grown on it and support farmers for the foreseeable future, not just season to season struggles.