By Mike Barnett
I’ve been accused of preaching a lot of doom and gloom lately. Seems both Gene Hall and I have been detailing the negatives on how the climate changers, animal rightists, “industrial agriculture” critics, the anti-GMO crowd and others are adversely affecting agriculture.
Hope for agriculture, I’m here to tell you, is not lost. The bad news is these activist groups are strong, well funded, very vocal and successful in promoting their agenda. The good news is they’re ultimately doomed to fail.
Animal rightists. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is unsurpassed in getting out its misguided messages that animal agriculture is cruel, victimizes animals to maximize profits and takes away the rights that animals should enjoy. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is an expert at exploiting puppies and kittens to raise funds to work toward their true agenda, veganism. Both are strong. Both will ultimately fail. Why? Americans like their meat. Consumers are starting to comprehend that PETA is little more than activism in a clown suit. HSUS funding will dry up when people see through the deceptive campaigns and realize their dollars aren’t helping homeless dogs and cats. Consumers will ultimately see through the smokescreens thrown out by PETA and HSUS and realize livestock that provide the meat they crave are well cared for. Agriculture will take lessons learned in Ohio, where HSUS was defeated, and apply them wherever modern agricultural production practices are attacked.
“Industrial agriculture” critics. Modern agriculture production is evil, rapes the environment and results in cheap food that is unsafe and makes Americans obese. So say critics such as Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, and Bryan Walsh, who penned a diatribe against agriculture in Time magazine. Consumers will realize that modern agriculture critics like Schlosser and Walsh are full of beans…organic beans, probably, but beans non-the-less. Consumers are smart enough to realize they have a choice between a wide variety of safe, wholesome and sustainable food which includes locally grown, organic, and food raised by modern production methods. They will see the “40 acres and a mule” theory espoused by critics as the answer to feeding our nation for what it is—idealistic organic bovine fertilizer. And hopefully they will wise up and realize there’s a direct correlation between what and how much they put in their mouths, exercise and weight.
The anti-GMO crowd. “Frankenfoods” resulting from genetic engineering will wreak havoc on gene pools resulting in unrecognizable and uncontrollable organisms which will doom human health and the earth’s environment. That’s what the anti-science and anti-technology crowd would have you believe. Here’s what I think will happen. Sane people will realize that the world population is skyrocketing. Most will start to understand that neither organic nor traditional agriculture can keep up with the huge numbers of new mouths to feed. They will embrace genetically modified organisms that are drought resistant, higher yielding and insect and disease resistant as a sustainable new “green revolution” which has the capability to feed a hungry world.
Climate changers. Unless the United States leads the nations of the world by instituting a cap and trade policy to curb carbon emissions into our atmosphere, Planet Earth will warm to such a degree that the polar ice caps will melt, cities will be flooded, agriculture will be unproductive and humans will cease to exist. Climate changers want the U.S. to sacrifice its economic well-being to chase a rabbit down a hole that won’t make an iota of difference in the world’s climate. Reducing carbon emissions may be a worthwhile goal, but Americans will realize our country needs to lead from a position of economic strength—using a carrot, not a regulatory stick—to embrace new technologies such as ethanol and clean coal and encouraging old technologies such as nuclear power.
Henry Miller wrote an article in Forbes recently that took GMO critics to task. He referred to an old courtroom dictum: When the facts are on your side, pound the facts; when the facts are against you, pound the table. Animal rights, modern agriculture critics, the anti-GMO crowd and climate changers—are all pounding the table. Will their movements lose steam overnight? Not likely. Many of these groups are strong, well-funded, and have a core of true believers. True believers fight hard for their ideology. These groups’ ideologies, however, are flawed.
Facts, my friends, are on our side. Farmers and ranchers are true believers, too.