"There are over one billion cows alive today. They are grazing on six continents. A quarter of the earth's landmass is used as pasture for cattle and other livestock....nearly 29 percent of the landmass of the United States is currently used as grazing land, primarily to feed cattle."
"....the world's output of meat increased fivefold in the second half of the 20th century. We now have 22 billion farm animals, including 15 billion chickens and 1.3 billion cattle. And the industry is girding its loins for a 50% increase in the next two decades. By 2050, the world's livestock population will, on present trends, have grown to the point where the plant food it consumes could feed an extra 4 billion people, if it wasn't hived off for meat production.
The environment is already suffering and will further if the extra beasts continue to be raised intensively in "factories". Million-head "pig cities" already exist in the US and are now planned for Poland when it becomes part of the expanded European Union. Collectively, the world's livestock produce 10 per cent of all the greenhouse gases, including 25 per cent of the methane, among the most potent of all. Then there is water, which is rapidly becoming the greatest check on overall food productivity. It takes 4=500 litres to raise a kilo of potatoes; 900 for a kilo of wheat; nearly 2000 for rice or soya; 3500 for a kilo of chicken; and a staggering 100,000 litres for a kilo of beef."
So Shall we Reap
"While agriculture prospers all other arts alike are vigorous and strong, but where the land is forced to remain desert , the spring that feeds the other arts is dried up."
-Xenophon (440-355 B.C.)
"For every one of the 18,000 days of the past 50 years, some 218 Farms in the U.S. closed'
"Eating can bind a pair together more effectively than sex, simply because people eat more often and predictably than they have sexual relations."
-Peter Farb & George Armelagos
Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating
"Unless It can rejuvenate itself, the hamburger may be wiped out by a combination of bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE, or mad cow disease) and jaded palates.
In France, McDonald’s is pinning its hopes on a burger gastronomique, injecting more a la France and less best of America. McDonald’s in the U.S. has been cutting prices to boost flagging sales. In Britain, burger sales plummeted during the BSE crisis. It has been the slowest meat product to show a recovery.
The Irish burger, for its part, is holding its own. Sales dropped during the BSE crisis but have nearly recovered. McDonald’s plans to open 20 new restaurants in Ireland within three years."
Kevin O’Sullivan, Irish Times, Dublin, March 29, 1997
"Europe’s farms have become highly productive in the last 20 years, thanks to mechanization, fertilizers, and pesticides. But these improvements are threatening the environment in some agricultural regions, rain now carries off up to 10 tons of soil per hectare each year, reports a multinational research project called EUROSEM (European Soil Erosion Model). The project has created a model of Europe’s climate and other conditions to evaluate the effects of specific soil-conservation measures (such as plant cover) on reversing erosion and saving Europe’s farms."
EUROSEM, R.P.C. Morgan, Cranfield University, Silsoe College
"Bruce Hannon of the U of Illinois says: 80 million acres would be freed of for other uses (If we had one meatless day in 3). Only 5% of this are set aside for growing vegetables, soy beans, would make up for the lost protein.
The raising of timber, sugarcane, or sunflowers on the remainder would supply enough fuel for 225,000 new one-thousand-megawatt power stations.
1 / 2 of the world’s fish catch is fed to livestock.
About 45 million beef cattle roam some 870 million acres-more than 2/3 of the land mass in our 17 western states.
Over 80% of the corn, oats and soybeans are eaten by livestock. (in the US)
Each year the world’s farmers are expected to feed 86 million more people with 24 billion tons less topsoil.
If we were simply to grow food for people we would need 30% of the yield we now require from an acre. To supply one meat eater – 3 ¼ acre Lacto-vegetarian – ½ acre Pure Vegetarian – 1/6 acre."
"Within 10 years we will have a moderate to large scale ecological or economic catastrophe, because there will be so many (genetically engineered) products being released."
The Butterfly People
"They first appeared among poor Spanish shepherds in the eighteenth century. But it didn't stop there, and the so-called "butterfly people" were soon seen everywhere: dazed peasants marked on the bridge of the nose with a curious butterfly design, which soon spread to the rest of their body in huge throbbing scabs. Some drowned themselves to stop the itching. Others went slowly insane. By 1881 an estimated one hundred thousand people in Italy were affected, and corn, which had become a staple among the poorest of the poor, was fingered as the cause. Some said the vegetable's "impure Indian" nature lay at the root of the horrible disease. Others claimed moldy kernels were the culprit. In America, where the disease was rampant among the poorer people in the South, South Carolina actually put the vegetable on trial. "Corn stands indicted!" wrote the state's agricultural commissioner in 1909, "the original wild grass of Aztecs and given to us by the Indian. You are here assembled to try the case and render a verdict...for the charge of murder..." It wasn't until the mid-1900s that Nobel nominee Joseph Goldberger proved that the disease, now called pellagra (rough skin), was caused by the absence of vitamin niacin in corn. The mystery, however, was why there were no cases of pellagra among the Indians, who for centuries had been so heavily on the stuff. The answer lay in how the plant was processed. Indians always soaked the kernels overnight in a bath made of water and lime or wood ashes before grinding it into meal. The European invaders had assumed this was merely to make the maize easier to grind and had taken it as an example of "Indian laziness." It turned out that the step of soaking the grain with ash, called mixamalization, was what released the niacin "bound up" inside corn and turned the plant into a kind of universal superfood that met almost all nutritional requirements. The Indians were well aware of this-they used a similar process with coca (cocaine) leaves to activate its chemical stimulants-But the European invaders were apparently so arrogant they hadn't bothered to ask."
Stewart Lee Allen
In the Devil's Garden
"Even when I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls. I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days. Mother's cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, the healthy old-time life was riddled with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better."
Book: The Last Harvest: The Genetic Gamble that Threatens to Destroy American Agriculture …..by Paul Raebara
Book: "Fast Food Nation:The Dark Side of the All-American Meal." By Eric Schlosser
Article: "Food Processor" by Joan Acocella,New Yorker, Aug 19-26,2002
"Half the food grown for sale worldwide rots before it goes to market. That’s the belief of the agriculture estimators."
Denmark has more food per person than any other country.
"Food to stave off starvation is the grim and primary demand of a misery-ridden world. Does it seem a little irrational that, while we can’t even keep 3 billion fed today, we cheerfully plan to keep 6 to 7 billion ‘adequately fed’ tomorrow?"
Robert Rienod & Leona Renow
Movement in the Sun
"Food for all is a necessity. Food should not be a merchandise, to be bought and sold by those who have the money to buy. Food is a human necessity, like water and air, and it should be available."
Pearl S. Buck
"Maybe the technologists are right; maybe they can create conditions that will support ten billion people on planet earth, or even more…it might be possible, for example, to farm the entire land surface and the oceans, too. We could process sewage into bouillon cubes, eat algae, seaweed, plankton. All of these things are theoretically possible. But…it seems like it would be a wretched world to live in – billions of humans packed into some sort of planetary food factory. Buckminister Fuller thought it could be done. But the question is, Should it be done? Who would want to live in such an ugly world?"
"For those who are not hungry, it is easy to palaver about the degradation of charity."
"The belly is the reason why man does not mistake himself for a god."
COST OF BEEF
To produce one pound of steak, a steer consumes five pounds of grain and 2500 gallons of water and erodes about 35 pounds of topsoil.
Portion of land on the North American continent devoted to grazing: one third.
Percentage of cropland in the United States planted with livestock feed: more than 50.
Percentage of water consumed in the United States that’s consumed by livestock: more than 50.
"What is happening in the sub-Saharan Sahel is only a dress rehearsal for encroaching world famine. This is but the application of a general law: When more than a certain proportion of value is produced by the industrial mode, subsistence activities are paralyzed, equity declines, and total satisfaction diminishes. It will not be the sporadic famine that formerly came with drought and war, or the occasional food shortage that could be remedied by good will and emergency shipments. The coming hunger is a by-product of the inevitable concentration of industrialized agriculture in rich countries and in the fertile regions of poor countries. Paradoxically, the attempt to counter famine by further increases in industrially efficient agriculture only widens the scope of the catastrophe by depressing the use of marginal lands. Famine will increase until the trend towards capital-intensive food production by the poor for the rich has been replaced by a new kind of labor-intensive, regional, rural autonomy. Beyond a certain level of industrial hubris, nemesis must set in, because progress, like the broom of the sorcerer’s apprentice, can no longer be turned off."
"The supporters of organic farming, bio-agriculture, alternative agriculture and optimum production are beginning to make themselves heard, and not before time. I am convinced that the only steps that can be taken are to explore methods o production which make better and more effective use of renewable natural resources."
"As we talked of freedom and justice one day for all, we sat down to steaks. I am eating misery, I thought, as I took the first bite. And spit it out."
"If the body is not sacred, what is?"
"The world was for long divided into three major empires, of roughly equal size, based on the three main staple foods, wheat, rice and maize. But what separated people even more was the sauce of spice they added: olive oil in the Mediterranean, soya in China, chili in Mexico, butter in northern Europe, a whole variety of aromas in India. The Russians rioted in the 1840s when the government tried to persuade them to grow potatoes; being used to living mainly on rye bread, they suspected a plot to turn them into slaves and force a new religion on them; but within fifty years they were in love with potatoes. The explanation is that they added the same sourness-kislotu-which had always given savor to their food, and which was what they were ultimately addicted to. Every people puts its own scent on its food, and it accepts change only if it can conceal the change from itself, by smothering each novelty in its scent. Optimism about change, whether in politics, economics or culture, is only possible if this premise is accepted."
An Intimate History of Humanity
See: "Terminator Technology…The Killing Fields of the Future?" by Martha L.Crouch
See: "Victims of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease" Le Monde
See: "No Credit to Politicians" by Reinhard Wandtner,Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Nov 27,2000
"Rarely have the experts looked more helpless, and rarely have politicians been so scorned by the public."
"No plant is licensed to dispose of confirmed BSE-infected material in the republic. In July last year, government scientists said arrangements for disposal, particularly burial of BSE-infected cattle, were unsatisfactory. The latest solution-putting BSE carcasses in fridges-is not ideal. It still does not get rid of the material. As with clinical waste, it is not appropriate for it to be used for landfill or recycled. Exporting such waste is an Irish solution to an Irish problem and not sustainable. The ultimate solution is thermal treatment with an incinerator shown to operate to the highest standards, as exists in many countries and within the Irish industry."
Patrick Wall The Irish Times, Dublin, Nov 29,
The Green-back Revolution by Seth Shulman
“Bona Fide or not, concerns about the safety of genetically modified crops have been grabbing headlines. But a far bigger story looms in agricultural biotechnology: that of an industry choking on its own patent claims. For a powerful example, consider recent patent activity at Monsanto.
First, the company won a patent-number 6,174,724 for those keeping score-that covers a seminal technology in transgenic plant research: the use of antibiotic-resistant genes as markers. It works like this: when researchers want to insert new genes into plant cells, say to create a drought-tolerant variety, they couple these ingoing genes with such a genetic marker. By then exposing the target cells to antibiotics to see if they die (they don’t if things got to the right place), scientists can easily test whether the gene transfer was a success. There is probably no one in transgenic plant research who doesn’t make use of this technique. But now, thanks to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s woeful ineptitude, they will all have to beg permission from Monsanto to use this fundamental technology, not mention pay an royalties the firm sets.
Amazingly, however, an even worse intellectual-property nightmare is brewing. A pending Monsanto patent claims exclusive rights to a pivotal, widely used germ called Agrobacterium tumefaciens. This was the very first Trojan horse that scientists employed to sneak foreign genes into plants way back in 1983. And if Monsanto wins exclusive control over it, the field will be rocked even harder.
The real tragedy here is that both these patents (one granted, one pending) would confer monopolies on technologies that fall way too far upstream of the market to deserve patent protection. As many scholars have noted, patents are supposed to be a compact between the public and the inventor: in exchange for allowing the inventor a limited monopoly, the public gets access to a new product. But in these cases, there is no new product. Instead, Monsanto has essentially grabbed a piece of the ag biotech “info structure”-claiming exclusive rights to a technological technique that every one in the field needs to compete.
The problem is even worse in the Agrobacterium case. This patent was filled nearly two decades ago but has been tied up in a purgatory called “interference.” With four competing research teams claiming to have invented essentially the same thing, the torturous case has already taken a mind numbing 18 years to adjudicate, with, not one, but two administrative-law judges retiring during the process!
Thankfully , new rules will prevent the worst excesses of such situations by starting the clock ticking on a patent’s life when an application is filed. But under the rules operating in this case (and all pre-1995 filings), the clock doesn’t start until a patent is granted. Which means that Monsanto is poised to walk away with a spanking-new 17-year monopoly on a technology that has long since become indispensable.
Which leads me to another gripe: the private capture of public investment. Several teams that developed this powerful technology included academic researchers operating partly on government grants. In a collegial spirit, these scientists freely passed valuable findings to Monsanto, which is now turning them into an exclusive claim.
The full story is chronicled with great insight by Daniel Charles in Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money and the Future of Food. The book has a lot more on its mind that Agrobacterium tumefaciens, , as Charles examines the outsized ambitions that characterize the whole ag biotech industry. But to my eye, if Monsanto succeeds in patenting the use of this germ, it will go down as a classic tale of a collaborative scientific endeavor perverted by a capricious winner-take-all patent system.
The problems extend far beyond two bad patents. In fact, so many overly broad patents have issue in agricultural biotechnology that the entire field will likely suffer. With tremendous consolidation in recent years, warring fiefdoms of technological know-how have emerged. Firms like Monsanto use their patents to squelch competitors and leverage control of technology in the pipeline. Researchers are becoming so hamstrung by proprietary claims to key conceptual tools-sometimes shut out from using them entirely-that it is becoming ever harder to bring new inventions to market.
This is bad enough in the commercial sector. But the tangle of exclusive claims on basic research is also smothering public-sector researchers who, just a generation ago, launched the Green Revolution to bring high yield crop varieties to the famine-plagued developing world. That revolution was spawned not only by new technology but by a commitment to use new seed varieties as building blocks to breed even better varieties in the future. With proprietary claims like Monsanto’s, we’re tilling a far less fertile field. Maybe we should call it the Greenback Revolution."
Article by Seth Shulman in Technology Review Sept 2001
Book: "Six Thousand Years of Bread: Its Holy and Unholy History" by H.E. Jacob
article: "The Oil We Eat: Following the Food Chain back to Iraq" by Richard Manning Harpers Feb 2004
Book: "Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization" by Richard Manning
Book: "Why Americans Love, Hate, and Fear Food" by Michelle Stacey
Book: "The Pornography of Meat: The Sexual Politics of Meat" by Carol J. Adams
Book: "The Man Who Ate Everything" and "It Must've Been Something I Ate" by Jeffrey Steingarten
Book:" Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money and the Future of " Food"…by Daniel Charles
Book" " In the Devil's Garden" by Stewart Lee Allen
Book: "Cattle: An Informal Social History" by Laurie Winn Carlson
Book: "The Bakers of Paris", by Stanley Kaplan
Book: "The Bread of Dreams" by Piero Camporesi
Book: "The Potato" by Larry Zuckerman
Book: "The History of Food Preservation" Stuart Thorne
Book: "Food in History" by Reay Tannahill
Book: "Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal." Margaret Visser
Book: "History of Food" by Samat-Toussaint
Book: "Salt: A World History" by Mark Kurlansky
Book: "The Story of Corn" by Betty Fussell
Book: "The True Story of Chocolate, Salt: A World History" by Mark Kurlansky
Book: "Cod" by Mark Kurlansky
Book: "100 Vegetables and Where They Came From" by William Woys Weaver
Book: "Spoiled" by Nicols Fox
Book: "Religion & Wine" by Robert C. Fuller
Book: "Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit" by Mort Rosenblum
Book: "Apples of Gold in Settings of Silver" by Caroline C. Young
Book: "Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea" by Andrew F. Smith
Book: "Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food" by Felipe Fernandez-Arnesto
Book: "Spice: The History of a Temptation" by Jack Turner
Book: "The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfection of Our Nature" by Leon Kass
Book: "The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children" by Carol Simotacchi
Book: "In the Beginning was the Worm" by Andrew Brown
Book: "Hunting For Honey: Adventures with the Rajis of Nepal" by eric Valli
Book: "Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal." by Eric Schlosser
Book: "The Fatal Harvest Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture" Ed by Andrew Kimbrell
Book: "Spoiled: The Dangerous Truth About a Food Chain Gone Haywire" by Nicols Fox
See: "A Tale of Two Botanies" by Amory B. Lovins and L.Hunter Lovins
Wired April 2000
Book: "Tough Choices: Facing the Challenge of Food Scarcity" by Lester R. Brown
Book: "Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices" by Andrew Dalby
Book: "Portrait of a Burger as a Young Calf: The True Story of One Man, Two Cows, and the Feeding of a Nation" by Peter Lovenheim
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