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Will Precaution Kill the Green Revolution?
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“Pesticides and preservatives can be dangerous in excessive quality, but is the world’s growing phobia putting it at odds with the benefits they bring? Crop Chemophobia: Will Precaution Kill the Green Revolution? outlines the concern with modern farming about the paranoia surrounding food safety and how too much regulation of chemicals could lead to unforeseen problems in the future of the world’s food supply. Arguing for more consistent testing of pesticides and their effects on food, stating that some are banned when they pass the test clearly, Crop Chemophobia provides quite the insight on this major issue, highly recommended.”
Much of the world takes a healthy meal for granted, but it is truly a miracle of science. The Green Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s introduced herbicides, pesticides, and advanced agricultural technologies to the developing world–rescuing hundreds of millions of people from malnutrition and starvation and transforming low-yield, labor-intensive farming into the high-tech, immensely productive industry it is today.
Despite these stunning gains, and the introduction of a new generation of chemicals that have gone through stringent environmental evaluation, critics claim that the use of many chemicals that farmers consider critical presents an unconscionable ecological and public health hazard. In response to advocacy campaigns, the European Union has passed a ban on twenty-two herbicides and pesticides–about 15 percent of the EU agricultural chemical market–to begin in 2011. Similar measures have been proposed in the United States and other industrialized nations. Tighter restrictions have been challenged by agricultural policy experts and scientists who contend that it will damage food security and yield little or no health benefits. Curtailing the use of key agricultural chemicals could also impair pest- and disease-control efforts in developing countries.
In Crop Chemophobia: Will Precaution Kill the Green Revolution? Jon Entine and his coauthors examine the “precautionary principle” that underlies the movement to sharply curtail the use of chemicals. U.S. policy toward herbicides and pesticides relies on empirical studies and scientific risk standards, considering a chemical safe if tests reveal no known risks at the microscopic trace levels found in our food, with a margin of error in the thousands. The EU ban, however, circumvents the established process for a politicized and restrictive hazard structure that deems some chemicals dangerous at any level, even absent definitive risk data. The precautionary approach is now being exported around the world.
This incisive volume considers the impact of precautionary standards on international food security policies and explores its possible unintended consequences–including environmental degradation, the spread of disease, and a hungrier world.
Jon Entine is a visiting fellow at AEI.
Contributors: Jonathan H. Adler, Claude Barfield, Jon Entine, Euros Jones, Doug Nelson, Alexander Rinkus, Richard Tren, Mark Whalon, Jeanette Wilson
Praise for Crop Chemophobia
“Crop Chemophobia offers a science-based consideration of the impact of agricultural technology and highlights the need to give more thought to the principles guiding the regulation of food production. This is more than an academic debate; it could save lives.”
–Mike Johanns, U.S. senator for the state of Nebraska and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
“Crop Chemophobia should be required reading for policymakers. Our greatest challenge in the next forty years will be to feed billions more people on our planet with the same land resources we now use. As this important book demonstrates, we need to have science-based discussions about how to accomplish this. In the decades ahead, the greatest risk of all may be blind adherence to the precautionary principle.”
–Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation
“By placing science above scaremongering, this book should stimulate a more informed and balanced debate on the importance of pesticides in meeting the challenges posed by population growth and a changing climate.”
–Ian Denholm, Rothamsted Research, United Kingdom
“Many consumers today rely on sensationalized media reports to form their opinions on food production. Crop Chemophobia does an excellent job of going beyond the emotional debate over the use of crop inputs. Those concerned with a growing world population and food insecurity should look closely at the consequences of removing a vital tool of food production.”
–Mike Adams, host, AgriTalk: The Voice of Rural America
“Timely and important, this book is a call to action. We cannot afford to allow a narrow, technology-averse agenda to saddle our global food production system with constraints that are costly and scientifically unwarranted–not when we face the challenge of doubling food production in the next four decades to meet expected demand.”
–W. Darren Coppock, president and CEO, Agricultural Retailers Association
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