[There is a much better argument and discussion
here if you are interested. Also, TIME recently published an article
questioning the supposed benefits of organic foods. Anyway, back to the original post...]
I maintain that it is not the use of chemicals which "destroy our environment" but rather the misuse of specific chemicals.
Chemicals have always existed. H2O is a chemical. NH4 is a chemical. CO2 is a chemical. Plants need chemicals to grow. These can be supplied through 'natural' sources or by isolating and 'artificially' producing them. And it really makes no difference to the plant. (I use quotes because chemically it's all the same processes)
When fertilizers and pesticides are used correctly, they can be applied much more accurately and efficiently, resulting in a greater yield without applying an excess of other substances. The food itself is still the same, although perhaps larger and healthier. I see no reason not to use advances in science and technology to better agriculture.
I’m sorry if this seems condescending, but I feel I need to respond this way when people make the generalization that ‘chemicals are bad.’
My biggest criticism is for the large-scale commercial organic farms. (United Natural Foods, the company selling the tainted spinach, is the world’s largest producer of organic produce) It is my understanding that they follow the letter of organic farming but not the spirit. The concern is more on sustaining profits than on sustaining the land. So I find it hard to believe that a large-scale commercial organic farm is any better for the environment than any other large-scale commercial farming operation.
Natural fertilizers need to be applied in much higher quantities, and while ‘natural,’ they are still not environmentally safe in high concentrations. Too much animal waste in any one area is bad for the environment. Manure runoff is bad for our water supply. And fecal contamination is always the source of e. coli outbreaks. Which is what I had just posted about. I know this link is circumstantial at best, but it’s enough to make me consider it. And again, no one else is alleging a connection. This whole argument was crafted entirely within my head, with no sources or evidence. But if you read the wikipedia article on organic farming, as I just did, you’ll see essentially the same points argued.
The debate of organic versus chemical agriculture is not the clear-cut issue you think it is. There is no right or wrong. No one is intentionally trying to destroy the environment. Maybe growing up in an extremely rural area has made me biased, but nearly all farmers take a long-term view of their farms and work to keep the land arable for the future. This should not be a question of ideology. It should be a matter of objectively looking at the results. And doing so, I see no reason to stop using artificially produced fertilizers. Organic farming is not without its arguments. Sustainable farming and protection of the environment are necessary. And I’ll agree that pesticides are overused. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. All farming, organic or not, has an environmental impact. I just think the goals of organic farming can be better achieved if we embrace technology, rather than taking the Amish-like view that it's all evil.
And I believe that consumers who buy organic foods are just as ignorant as everyone else about where their food comes from and how it is produced. They just buy the food for the organic label, so they can feel morally superior to the other people who don’t wish to or can’t afford to pay the higher prices for organic foods, and they do so without ever having any evidence that the food they are buying was grown with any less environmental impact.
I don’t like the arrogance, I don’t like the ignorance, and I don’t like the hypocrisy.
This is a separate issue, but I also hate the debate of ‘natural’ versus artificial. Humans are products of, and part of nature. We are still bound by the same laws that have governed this planet since it was formed. If we screw things up, our species will die. That’s it. You don’t see chimps debating over whether they should be using sticks to dig out insects. If you truly believe in the idea of a natural state, you should understand that we humans are merely demonstrating on a large scale what we refer to as survival of the fittest.
Of course, if you believe otherwise, then you also believe that the world and everything on it was created for the use of man.