Science Debate 2008 – my Question #5: Food

To keep the conversation about the Science Debate 2008 going, I decided to post, one per day, my ideas for potential questions to be asked at such a debate. The questions are far too long, though, consisting more of my musings than real questions that can be asked on TV (or radio or online, wherever this may end up happening). I want you to:
– correct my factual errors
– call me on my BS
– tell me why the particular question is counterproductive or just a bad idea to ask
– if you think the question is good, help me reduce the question from ~500 to ~20 words or so.
Here is the fifth one, so comment away!

Back in 1973, Earl Butz (working for President Nixon) enacted the new Farm Bill. Up till that time, food prices were supported through loans, government grain purchases, and land idling. The Farm Bill changed the system to support food prices with direct payments to farmers. The direct, long-term result of this policy is overdependence on corn, monoculture with its gigantic need for fertilizers/herbicides/pesticides, inability of small/local/organic farmers to compete due to artificially low food prices, industrial-lot production of corn-fed beef (bad for cows, bad for us), enormous volume of oil used for food transportation and fertilizer production, and Big Agra control over legislation regulating food production and food safety (as well as workers’ safety inside food industry) further consolidating food production in the hands of a few megabusinesses.
Agribusiness is now one of the strongest lobbies in the country, yet people are increasingly looking for alternative sources of food in local sustainable farms, farms that are extremely difficult to start and run due to regulations written into legislation by the agribusiness lobbyists. And naturally in such environment, food and nutritional science is greatly focused on improvements in productivity of food production within the existing system instead of exploring the alternatives. Would you reverse the 1973 Farm Bill and what else would you do to restructure and reorganize our food-production system thus ensuring the availability of safer, healthier food, making it possible for small farmers to support their families with small farm business, and greatly reducing the use of oil for food production and transportation?
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #1: Scientific Advice to the President
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #2: Science Funding
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #3: Global Warming
Science Debate 2008 – my Question #4: Who has Scientific Authority?

Comments are closed.