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Date:

March 6, 2001

Subject:

Pollan's NY Times article, P. Moore, K Nill, Conferences,

 

Michael Pollan's article in the NY Times magazine last Sunday:
Pollan seems to totally misunderstand (or perhaps misrepresents is a
better term) the basis and rationale of nutritional recommendations in
his article. Consider the following points:

1) There is no "minimum daily requirement" of vitamin A. That was a
labelling term that is no longer used.

2) Pollan's citation of the necessity of eating 15 bowls of golden rice
per day is ridiculous! If Pollan meant the RDA (Recommended Dietary
Allowance) for vitamin A, he is still way off base because this is a
number that includes a significant safety factor; there is no way one
would need to consume this amount every day to ward off a deficiency.

To give an analogy: one could ward off scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) by
consuming about 10 milligrams of ascorbic acid/ day. The RDA for
vitamin C in adult men has recently been set at 90 mg/day (Institute of
Medicine, 2000). This upper level also allows for other antioxidant
effects of vitamin C, of course.

But implying that an intake of a vitamin at less than RDA levels,
especially for a vitamin like vitamin A that is stored in the body,
would have no beneficial effect on a deficiency condition is either a
misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the facts!

3)True, the body needs fat to absorb beta-carotene, and protein to
transport it and convert it to vitamin A. But the body also needs fat
to absorb pre-formed vitamin A and protein to transport and store it in
the body. So, if supplementation with beta-carotene would be ineffective
(as Pollan claims for golden rice), so would supplementation with
pre-formed vitamin A. So should we stop all vitamin A supplementation
programs?

4) The real issue is that we will have to ability to ameliorate one of the
major causes of childhood blindness in the developing world--we should not
miss the chance to do so based on politiacl ideology and pseudo-scientific
reasoning!

Ruth Kava, Ph.D., R.D.
Director of Nutrition
American Council on Science and Health

1995 Broadway, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10023

PH: 212-362-7044
Fax: 212-362-4919
email: kava@acsh.org

Please bookmark: www.acsh.org
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mar 07 2001 00:02:11 EST
From: Roger Morton
Subject: Pollan of NYT question

In his NYT magazine article March 4, 2001 The Great Yellow Hype,
MICHAEL POLLAN asks :

>... what about handing out
>vitamin-A supplements to children so severely malnourished their
>bodies can't metabolize beta-carotene?
>More than $100 million dollars has been spent developing
>golden rice, and another $50 million has been budgeted for
>advertisements touting the technology's future benefits. A
>spokesman for Syngenta, the company that plans to give golden
>rice seeds to poor farmers, has said that every month of delay
>will mean another 50,000 blind children. Yet how many cases of
>blindness could be averted right now if the industry were to
>divert its river of advertising dollars to a few of these programs?
>

Well according to data I have (Agbioview 13-2-01 from C Kameswara Rao
) purified beta-carotene costs US$ 185 / 25 mg and one
requires to take 5 mg/day. So the answer to the question ( if you have
150 million to spend at $37 per child per day) is that you could suplement
11 thousand children for one year on the amount that Pollan says is spent
on Golden rice. Not a very good return considering you want to help more
people than this for a longer period of time. On the ther hand, once you
have made a good vitamin A rice you can
breed the genes into new varieties for as long as you like with minimum
costs.

So I think simple calculations show that the economics of Pollan's
solution just don't stand up.
--
Roger L Morton
Opinons expressed in this posting are personal and do not reflect the
position of my employer
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mar 06 2001 13:46:16 EST
From: "Henry I. Miller"
Subject: Response to Pollan Article

To the editor of the NY Times Magazine:

Michael Pollan believes that the "biotechnology industry's audacious new
advertising campaign" extolling the virtues of vitamin A-enhanced rice
misses the point ("The Great Yellow Hype," NY Times Magazine, 4 March).
He is right, but his speculations about whether the "golden rice" will
actually ameliorate vitamin A deficiency, whether its development was a
cost-effective expenditure of resources, and whether industry's touting
the product is moral, also miss the point.

Over-emphasis of the benefits -- real or hoped-for -- of gene-splicing can
obscure more fundamental and important issues. It obscures the
theoretical and empirical evidence of the extraordinary predictability and
safety of gene-spliced organisms, for example. It creates a kind of
logical trap, by enabling antagonists of gene- splicing to argue that when
the ultimate benefits are arguably relatively minimal — such as the
advantages of a long shelf-life melon — or unproven, as in the case of
golden rice, we should
tolerate no risk at all of creating an invasive, weedy or toxic plant.
But benefits aside, the safety of the new technology and its products are
not in doubt. Gene-spliced plants are now grown on more than 100 million
acres annually and more than 60 percent of processed foods in the United
States contain ingredients derived from gene-spliced organisms. There has
not been a single mishap resulting in injury to a single person.

Pollan raises another phony issue — whether it is "immoral for an industry
to use [the suffering of malnourished children] in order to rescue
itself." In fact, the biotechnology industry's advertising campaign is a
needed response to the relentless campaign of misrepresentations from
radical environmentalists and technophobes who have over-emphasized the
potential risks and denigrated the benefits of gene-splicing technology.

The current controversies over the testing and use of gene-spliced
organisms are not really about safety, whether golden rice will achieve
its aims, or the morality of advertising, but about something else
entirely: challenges to academic, individual — and corporate -- freedom,
which is being systematically undermined by the unscientific,
discriminatory and onerous regulation focused on gene-splicing. Consider,
for example, that if a student doing a school biology project takes a
packet of "conventional" tomato or pea seeds (that have been genetically
improved via plant breeding), to be irradiated at a local hospital and
plants them in his backyard in order to investigate interesting mutants,
he need not seek approval from any local, national or international
authority. However, if
the seeds have been modified by the addition of one or a few genes via
more precise and predictable gene-splicing techniques, the student
researcher could face a mountain of bureaucratic paperwork and expense (to
say nothing of the very real possibility of vandalism of his experiment by
anti-technology thugs). In the United States, Department of Agriculture
requirements for paperwork and field trial design make field trials with
gene-spliced organisms 10-20 times more expensive than the same
experiments with virtually identical organisms that have been modified
with conventional genetic techniques.

It is beside the point whether the purpose of investigating a new plant
variety or microorganism is to test a scientific hypothesis or a marker
gene, to produce a more elegant rose, to offer a marginal improvement for
purposes of downstream processing, or to improve the lot of malnourished
children. In democratic Western societies, we enjoy long traditions of
relatively unfettered agricultural research, except in the infinitesimal
proportion of cases where bona fide safety issues are raised (for example,
research on live Foot and Mouth Disease Virus in the United States).

Traditionally, we shrink from permitting small, authoritarian minorities
to dictate our social agenda, including what kind of research is
permissible and which technologies and products should be available in the
marketplace. Yet, that is what is happening, with radical environmental
groups and technophobes relentlessly and groundlessly attacking all manner
of applications of the new biotechnology.

Henry I. Miller, MD
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305-6010
USA
miller@hoover.stanford.edu
[Dr. Miller was an official at the NIH and FDA from 1977-94.]
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: 6 Mar 2001 19:09:39 -0000
From: Chenopod@aol.com
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: GP Morality, Pollan's article, Mycotoxins, Healthy
GM, Canadia...

Patrick Moore writes:
> If Greenpeace et al had any moral standards they would be offering
> millions to solve any outstanding problem with Golden Rice, or at
least
> encouraging truly humanitarian agencies to do so.

If Greenpeace (or the Rockerfeller Foundation) decides to throw
millions of dollars at VAD, why should it be aimed at Golden Rice?
While the NYT article was a clearly partisan piece, it did repeat
issues which I've yet to see satisfactorily addressed. How will golden
rice be more efficient than other VAD-fighting strategies? Given the
amount of money that has been and remains to be spent on golden rice
development and promotion, would similar investments in low-tech
proposals, (FAO-style family gardens, other methods of increasing
availability of fruits and vegetables) have
clearly promised less adequate results?

-Dan Solomon
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mar 06 2001 14:20:03 EST
From: ross@acsh.org (Gilbert Ross)
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: GP Morality, Pollan's article, Mycotoxins,
Healthy GM, Canadian te

Kim Nill writes:
>The World Bank reported that approximately 40% of premature adult
>disability & death in developing countries is caused by consumption of
>mycotoxin-laden grains.

Given the prevalance and mortality rates of several communicable
diseases, eg, TB and malaria, and given that the more common precursors of
primary hepatocellular carcinoma are hepatitis B and C, and given the
relentless increase in tobacco-related disease in the developing world, I
take issue with this statement, and request a specific reference.

I certainly do not disagree with the statement following that quoted
above, ie, that genetically improved crops (specifically, Bt) are less
likely to contain toxic mycotoxins than "conventionally" grown crops.

Gilbert Ross MD
The American Council on Science and Health, NYC
ross@acsh.org
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: 7 Mar 2001 11:57:28 -0000
From: Red Porphyry
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: Mycotoxins

It would appear that by failing to include the proper reference, I
have inadvertently led Kim Nill astray (see archive msgs #1002,
#1004). My apologies. "Gale" is Ms. Gale Ellen West, and I was
responding to some questions she posed to the members of this list
("Who cares, who benefits?", in archive msg # 998), not to any e-mail.

First, her questions regarding nutritionally enhanced GM foods were
limited in scope to the *developed* world (specifically the U.S. and
Canada), not to the *developing* world, so the issue of
mycotoxin-laden grain causing premature deaths in developing
countries is neither here nor there (the fact that grain in
developing countries is apparently riddled with mycotoxins shouldn't
be surprising, though. In those countries, mycotoxin levels may very
well be dangerously high, high enough to cause all sorts of diseases,
including cancer).

Second, a few Europeans may indeed be dying from cancer caused by
habitual ingestion of high levels of mycotoxins from grain. This also
shouldn't be surprising, given that much of Europe is still composed
of *developing* countries. Again, the issue is "should consumers in
*developed* countries worry about mycotoxins in their foods", not
"should consumers in *developing* countries worry about mycotoxins in
their foods". The answer is no, consumers in *developed* countries
(like the U.S. and Canada--Ms. West specifically excluded Europe,
which was wise, in my opinion, given the futility at the present time
of trying to engage Europeans in a rational discussion about either
science or GM foods) do not need to worry about mycotoxins in their
foods.

Third, if Kim Nill doesn't agree with the information about
mycotoxins found at the link I provided

http://ificinfo.health.org/qanda/mycotoxins.htm

here's another

http://www.wisc.edu/fri/fusarium.htm

I'm sorry that Kim Hill wasn't able to access the first link and read
what was there before formulating a response. I don't apologize,
however, for posting links instead of long, verbatim quotes of entire
articles (the latter are a clear violation of U.S. copyright laws,
and I respect both U.S. law and the intellectual property of
authors). I also stand by what I wrote. Mycotoxins are not something
that the U.S. or Canadian consumer needs to worry about from the
standpoint of consumption of food. Period. If U.S. and Canadian
consumers choose to eat Bt-corn over non-Bt-corn, we will do so
because foods made from it are cheaper, not because we walk in fear
that our taco shells might be filled with mycotoxins. If you wish,
you may have the last word.

Red
--
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 11:33:35 -0600
From: "Kalaitzandonakes, Nicholas "
Subject: New Issue of AgBioForum

http://www.agbioforum.org/

The latest issue of AgBioForum is now available on-line. Articles in
this issue discuss how to make sense of the differences in US - EU biotech
regulation. Key government officials, industry associate representatives,
consultants, and academic experts present viewpoints and empirical
evidence on the forces that drive biotechnology, and more broadly,
agrifood regulation in the US and the EU.

I have included the table of contents below for your convenience.

http://www.agbioforum.org/
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: 6 Mar 2001 19:40:20 -0000
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl
Subject: Re: AGBIOVIEW: GP Morality, Pollan's article, Mycotoxins, Healthy
GM, Canadian teens

I completely disagree with mr. Moore's statements below.

http://agbioview.listbot.com/cgi-bin/subscriber?Act=view_message&list_id=agbioview&msg_num=1004&start_num=

Talking about morality I would like to point out the fact that a
completely unproven GE rice, still in a very infant stage of development,
and with clearly insufficient betacarotenelevel to address the problem,
has been hyped my GE promoters as the solution to an indeed still serious
problem. I would say quite a premature claim which is less innocent than
it may look like. Not only does it undermine the needed attention for
existing, proven and working solutions, it also uses the misery of large
numbers of people in order to have their own favourite toy get accepted.

W. de Lange
Amsterdam
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 15:02:10 -0600
From: "Lynette K. Edsall"
Subject: call for applications FLAD Institute

Announcing!

The second joint European / U. S. Bioethics Institute at Fundação
Luso-Americana (FLAD)

Lisbon, Portugal

30 June - 6 July 2001

A faculty development workshop designed to assist life science faculty
members in integrating discussions of ethical issues into existing science
courses. Sessions devoted to ethical theory, pedagogy, and policy.
Particular attention is paid to ethical issues in agricultural
biotechnology. Also: environmental ethics, marine ethics, and animal
welfare and rights.

Each participant from the United States will receive a travel stipend of
$1950 to cover airfare, hotel, and meals. Participants from European
countries other than Portugal will receive 1000 Euro as travel and living
expense allowance. Participants from Portuguese Universities outside the
area of Lisbon will receive a 500 Euro travel and living expense
allowance. Participants from Portuguese Universities in the area of Lisbon
will receive a 250 Euro travel and living expense allowance. Participants
also receive lunches, books, case studies, classroom exercises, and
bibliographies.

Workshop conducted in English.

Applicants must be tenured or tenure-track life science faculty members.
Applicants are favored who are interested in integrating discussions of
ethics into existing life science courses; and who apply with colleagues
as a team from their institution. Funded by FLAD, the U. S. National
Science Foundation, the European Union DG Research/EC, Portugal's FCT
(Fundacao de Ciencia e Tecnologia, Ministry of Science and Technology),
Iowa State University Bioethics Program, Office of Biotechnology and Plant
Sciences Institute. Hosts include the University of Lisbon Centro de
Biologia Ambiental, and the UL Centro de Filosofia.

Deadline for applications: April 15, 2001.

For more information and application form, go to:

http://www.biotech.iastate.edu/Bioethics/Institute/flad.html
_____________________

From: Marc PAQUES
Subject: Conference on June 2001

Dear all,
You may now consult the second announcement for the International
Conference on Wood, Breeding, Biotechnology and Industrial
Expectations on the web site :
<http://www.pierroton.inra.fr/WBB/>http://www.pierroton.inra.fr/WBB/

This conference will be held in Bordeaux (France) from 11th to 14th
June 2001.

So please spread this information around you...

Hoping to seeing you in Bordeaux !

M. PAQUES


PAQUES MARC
Director
AFOCEL-Station des Ressouces du Futur
Domaine de l'Etan=E7on - 77370 NANGIS - FRANCE
Tel.: 33 (1) 60 67 00 32 - Fax : 33 (1) 60 67 02 56 -
paques@afocel.fr
Site internet : <http://www.afocel.fr>http://www.afocel.fr
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mar 06 2001 19:47:24 EST
From: Roger Morton
Subject: world carrying capacity


Interesting paper on world carrying capacity in the American Journal of
Alternative Agriculture bey Eswaran et al.

Classifies land on the earth into a number of categories based on quality
for agriculture.

Class I - prime land - few management constraints, Class II and III - good
soils - must be careful to prevent degradation
Class IV - VI should not be used for grain production if you can help it.
Must use good conservation management
Class VII low resilience easily prone to degradation. Should not be used
for crops

Then goes through and suggests how much of these lands should be retained
for forestry and as wilderness and how much could be used for agriculture.
eg Class I: 70% for Agriculture, 20% for forestry and 5% for wilderness.
Class VI: 30% for agriculture, 50% forestry and 15% for wilderness.

Then calculates how many people the lands can support based on low input,
medium input and high input farming.

The answer if we use lands only in Class I to Class VI under low input -
6.2 billion people, medium input 8.7 billion, high-input 19.8 billion

Eswaran,H., Beinroth,F., and Reich,P. (1999). Global land resources and
population-supporting capacity. American Journal of Alternative
Agriculture 14, 129-136.

--
Roger L Morton
Opinons expressed in this posting are personal and do not reflect the
position of my employer
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Date: Mar 06 2001 20:18:59 EST
From: Roger Morton
Subject: Alternative Ag Research, yields and profits

Critics of biotechnology call for more research into alternative forms of
agriculture. Critics of biotechnology claim that organic forms of
production can yield as high as conventional agriculture. Is this true?
Well we have the American Journal of Alternative Agriculture in our
library. This journal is dedicated to research into alternative
agricultural production systems. I recently perused the last few years of
the journal picking out papers that compared the yields of crops grown
under conventional agriculture with crops
grown under alternative agricultural systems of production. The latter
forms of production were sometimes the systems of production prescribed by
organic certification bodies and other times were “low-input” systems
where the farmer/researcher is free to choose his inputs from any allowed
agricultural chemical or fertiliser. I have included edited highlights
from the abstracts and bodies of these papers below.

Read them for yourself but I think you will note that farms run under the
systems prescribed by organic certification bodies are never the highest
yielding farms. They may be the most profitable system because of the
premium they can pay the farmer for the produce but they are never the
highest yielding. The implication they can never be the solution to
hunger in a growing world population. What may be a solution is the use of
“low input” farming of which GM crops could be an integral part. You can
not get any more low input than a crop that makes its own insecticide.

The American Journal of Alternative Agriculture must be one of the prime
places where the organic production system could show case its claims to
yields comparable to farms using synthetics. A simple browsing of this
journal shows how far off these claims are. If a journal dedicated to the
research on alternative agriculture can not present cases supporting the
claims of comparable yields then what journal will?
-----------------
Munn et al., 1998
Cash seed/grain yields, quality and profitability were compared under two
management systems, low-input practices and conventional practices. The
crop sequence was maize, soyabeans, and wheat intercropped with medium red
clover (Trifolium pratense) green manure. Low-input practices included
crop rotation, manure, and mechanical weed control. Conventional practices
used starter
fertilizer, side-dress N for maize, early spring top-dress N for wheat and
herbicides in addition to practices used in the low-input system. The
conventional inputs increased yields in each of the five growing seasons,
1992-96.

Fertilizer and herbicides did pay with corn and soybean, but not with
wheat under the conditions of this study.
----
Fernandez-Cornejo et al., 1998

Organic farmers apparently release beneficial insects through "mass
production and releases in the field" and "can be used when the natural
enemy is not present or cannot respond quickly enough to the pest
pressure". "for many organic growers, the ultimate goal of these
"augmentative" techniques may be to establish a permanent population of
the beneficial organisms that keeps crop pests in balance"

I wonder what environmental studies are done by the organic farmers before
they do this? What are the long term effects of this sort of thing? Can
they transport insects from overseas to do this?
----
King, 1994
In a long-term field trial initiated in 1985 in the Piedmont of North
Carolina, the following practices were studied as ways to improve crop
yields in reduced chemical systems: (1) conventional tillage (chisel
ploughing and discing), inorganic N at 70 or 140 kg/ha, and either
cultivation or herbicides for weed control; (2) early versus late
ploughing of clover (Trifolium incarnatum) green
manures; (3) supplemental inorganic N fertilizer on maize and wheat in
rotations relying on clover green manures for N; and (4) nicosulfuron
herbicide banded on maize. Yield of soyabeans in the rotations was not
affected by any of these practices. With herbicides and fertilizer N at
140 kg/ha, continuous maize yields with no-tillage and conventional
tillage were equal in 1990 and 1992, but no-tillage yield was 30% higher
in 1991. When cultivation was used for weed control in the conventional
tillage treatment, maize yield was
similar to that of no-tillage with herbicide in the one year when rain was
plentiful (yield 6000 kg/ha). However, in 2 of 4 dry years, yields (2600
kg/ha) were higher with no-tillage. Clover biomass consistently increased
by between 700 and 3500 kg/ha when ploughing was delayed from mid-Apr. to
early or mid-May (13 to 26 days). However, biomass N content increased
significantly (by between 35
and 90 kg/ha) in only 2 of 5 years. Maize yields were affected in only 2
of 12 possible comparisons. In these cases, delaying ploughing-in of
clover reduced yield by about 50%. Supplementing maize with 45 kg N/ha and
banding nicosulfuron increased yields, but only to between 62 and 84% of
yields with recommended practices. Supplementing wheat with 45 kg N/ha
increased yields by
half, but only to between 40 and 60% of the yields with 90 kg N/ha
-----------
King and Buchanan, 1993

Two management systems, current management practices (CMP) and reduced
chemical inputs (RCI), were evaluated in North Carolina, USA, for four
crop sequences from 1985 to 1992: continuous grain sorghum; continuous
maize; a 2-yr rotation of maize and double-cropped winter wheat and
soyabean; a 4-yr rotation of maize, winter wheat/soyabean, maize and red
clover hay (changed in 1989 to a 3-yr rotation of maize, red clover hay
and wheat/soyabean). No-till planting
and recommended rates of fertilizer and pesticides were used in the CMP
system.
In the RCI system, N was supplied by a crimson clover green manure crop or
the red clover in the rotation. Weed control was by chisel ploughing,
discing, and cultivation. Crimson clover topgrowth accumulated from 70 to
180 kg N/ha, red clover from 77 to 130 kg N/ha. Rotating crops increased
maize yields with CMP but not with RCI. In dry years, maize yields were
low, maize did not respond to
fertilizer N, and yields were generally higher with CMP than with RCI.
With adequate rain, yields of all RCI treatments were the same as yields
in CMP continuous maize receiving no fertilizer N. Johnsongrass
competition was the main reason for low yields in the RCI treatments.
Soyabean yields were higher with CMP in 4 years and higher with RCI in one
year. Wheat and grain sorghum yields were higher with CMP than with RCI. A
marked decline in Johnsongrass in
sorghum was noted in 1989, and several plots remained relatively free of
Johnsongrass through 1992
--------
Teasdale et al., 2000
A long-term cropping systems comparison was established at Beltsville,
Maryland, on a site with 2 to 15% slope to evaluate the efficacy of
sustainable strategies compatible with reduced-tillage systems.

Treatments included (1) no-tillage system with recommended fertilizer and
herbicide inputs, (2) crown vetch (Coronilla varia) living mulch system
with similar inputs to the no-tillage system, (3) cover crop system
including a hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) cover crop before maize and a
wheat cover crop before soyabean with reduced fertilizer and herbicide
inputs, and (4) manure system including crimson clover (Trifolium
incarnatum) green manure plus cattle manure for nutrient sources, chisel
plough/disc for incorporating manure, and rotary hoe plus cultivation for
weed control.

The manure system usually had lower yields than the highest yielding
systems, partly because of competition from uncontrolled weeds. Several
measures of the efficiency of grain production were evaluated. The
no-tillage system produced the most grain per total vegetative biomass
throughout the rotation. The cover crop system produced the most grain per
unit of external nitrogen input and,
along with the no-tillage system, had the highest maize water-use
efficiency. The cover crop system also recycled the most vegetative
residues and nutrients of all systems. No single system performed best
according to all measures of comparison, suggesting that trade-offs will
be required when choosing production systems

The manure system had the lowest grain to total vegetation ratio in both
years. The no-tillage system had the highest grain to total vegatation
biomass ratio, producing over 40% of biomass as grain.

King and Hoag, 1998

The profitability of alternative cropping systems was evaluated during a
10-year period (1986-95) of an experiment in the Piedmont of North
Carolina, USA, comparing rotations and levels of purchased inputs.
Continuous maize or sorghum, maize/wheat-soyabean (2-year), and
maize/wheat-soyabean/maize/clover hay (4-year) were managed with
recommended fertilizer and pesticide rates and no-till planting (C) or
with N from legumes, conventional tillage, and cultivation for weed
control (L). Medium input management (M: medium rate of N
and banded herbicides) was included during years 5 through 10. Generally,
maize was the least profitable crop, regardless of input level or type of
rotation. Rotating crops improved profit more than did adding inputs to
continuous maize. With L, average annual profit was: continuous maize,
-$64/ha; 2-year rotation, $135/ha; and 4-year rotation, $158/ha. With C,
the 2-year rotation increased profit to $165/ha from -$119/ha with
continuous maize. The increased profit
with rotations was due to greater profits from wheat, soyabean, and hay
offsetting low or negative profit from maize. Sorghum (grown only in
monoculture) was more profitable with L ($34/ha) than with C (-$20/ha).
During the 6 years when all input levels were compared, the order of
average profit was MLC with continuous maize. Generally, profit was not
increased by M compared with L in the 2-and 4-year rotations. With L, the
cost of weed control was 20% of that for C with maize and 44% with
soyabean. Cost of N from fertilizer was $0.66/kg, but cost of N from
crimson clover (seed and planting
costs) averaged $0.92/kg when clover was drilled, $1.27/kg when aerially
seeded, and $0.16/kg when naturally reseeded

Stevenson et al., 2000

Data were collected from 14 sites in Saskatchewan, Canada, to investigate
the influence of weed control method (cultural versus herbicides) and N
and P fertilizers on crop yield of autumn rye, spring wheat, and barley,
and the presence and number of weed species.

Straw and grain yields of all cereal crops were higher in fertilized
compared with unfertilized plots.

Producers making drastic reductions in fertilizer inputs may experience
reductions in crop yields because of limited nutrient levels. However, the
results indicate that herbicide inputs could be reduced or eliminated
periodically with no short-term yield loss in cereal cropping systems
Carpenter-Boggs et al., 1999

Crop yield, crop quality and soil fertility were similar in plots treated
with mineral NPK fertilizers, biodynamic compost, or non-biodynamic
compost.

“In general soils and crops treated with biodynamic preparations showed
few differences from those not treated. Application of composts with or
without the preparations produced similar crop yields with lower weed
pressure, compared with equal nutrients supplied by mineral fertiliser,
but any additional short-term benefits from biodynamic preparations remain
questionable.”


Clark et al., 1999

Crop yields and economic performance of organic, low-input, and
conventional farming systems were compared over the period 1989-96, based
on research from the Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems (SAFS)
Project in California's Sacramento Valley, USA. The four farming system
treatments included four-year rotations under conventional (conv-4),
low-input, and organic management,
and a conventionally-managed, two-year rotation (conv-2). The four-year
rotations included processing tomato, safflower, maize, and beans and a
winter grain and/or legume double-cropped with beans. The conv-2 treatment
was a tomato and wheat rotation.

Conv inputs: synthetic Fertilizers and synthetic pesticides at recommended
amounts Low-input inputs: cover crops, synthetic fertilizers (reduced
amounts), synthetic pesticides (reduced amounts)
Organic Inputs: cover crops, composted animal manure, California Certified
orgainic farmers approved pesticides and fertilizers.

All crops, except safflower, demonstrated significant yield differences
across farming systems in at least some years of the experiment. Nitrogen
availability and/or weed competition appeared to account for lower crop
yields in the organic and low-input systems in some years. The economics
of all farming systems depended mainly on the costs and profits associated
with tomato production. The most profitable system was the conv-2 system
due to the greater
frequency of tomato in that system. Among the four-year rotations, the
organic system was the most profitable. However, this system's dependence
on price premiums leads to some concern over its long-term economic
viability. Among the low-input cropping systems, maize demonstrated clear
agronomic and economic advantages over conventional production methods.

[What is the pest resistance implication of using pesticides at lower than
recommended doses?]

Eswaran, Beinroth, et al. 1999
This paper makes an assessment of global population-supporting capacity
based on land area stratified by productive potential. The study suggests
a level of food production that will sustain twice the current global
population. However, lack of political will, insufficient investments in
modern agriculture, and a general apathy to the tenets of sustainable land
management threaten food
security in developing countries, and in some, contribute to poverty and
famine. From a global land-productivity point of view, the spectre of
Malthusian scenarios seems unwarranted. However, local and regional food
shortages are likely to continue to occur unless mechanisms for equitable
food distribution, effective technical assistance, and infusions of
capital for infrastructure development are implemented in some developing
countries

Classifies land on the earth into a number of categories based on quality
for agriculture.
Class I - prime land - few management constraints, Class II and III - good
soils - must be careful to prevent degradation
Class IV - VI should not be used for grain production if you can help it.
Must
use good conservation management
Class VII low resilience easily prone to degradation. Should not be used
for
crops

Then goes through and suggests how much of these lands should be retained
for forestry and as wilderness and how much could be used for agriculture.
eg Class I: 70% for Agriculture, 20% for forestry and 5% for wilderness.
Class VI: 30% for agriculture, 50% forestry and 15% for wilderness.

Then calculates how many people the lands can support based on low input,
medium input and high input farming.

The answer if we use lands only in Class I to Class VI under low input -
6.2 billion people, medium input 8.7 billion, high-input 19.8 billion

Reference List

Carpenter-Boggs, L., Reganold, J. P., and Kennedy, A. C. Biodynamic
preperations: short-term effects on crops, soils and weed populations.
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture , 110. 1999.

Clark,S., Klonsky,K., Livingston,P., and Temple,S. (1999). Crop-yield and
economic comparisons of organic, low-input, and conventional farming
systems in California's Sacramento Valley. American Journal of Alternative
Agriculture 14, 109-121.

Fernandez-Cornejo,J., Greene,C., Penn,R., and Newton,D. (1998). Organic
vegetable production in the U.S.: Certified growers and their practices.
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 13, 69-78.

King,L.D. (1994). Reduced chemical input cropping systems in the
southeastern United States. II. Effects of moderate rates of N fertilizer
and herbicides, tillage, and delayed cover plow-down on crop yields.
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 9, 162-170.

King,L.D. and Buchanan,M. (1993). Reduced chemical input cropping systems
in the southeastern United States. I. Effect of rotations, green manure
crops and nitrogen fertilizer on crop yields. American Journal of
Alternative Agriculture
8, 58-77.

King,L.D. and Hoag,D.L. (1998). Reduced chemical input cropping systems in
the Southeastern United States: III. Economic analysis. American Journal
of Alternative Agriculture 13, 12-27.

Munn,D.A., Coffing,G., and Sautter,G. (1998). Response of corn, soybean
and wheat crops to fertilizer and herbicides in Ohio compared with
low-input production practices. American Journal of Alternative
Agriculture 13, 181-189.

Stevenson,F.C., Johnston,A.M., Brandt,S.A., and Townley-Smith,L. (2000).
An assessment of reduced herbicide and fertilizer inputs on cereal grain
yield and weed growth. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 15,
60-67.

Teasdale,J.R., Rosecrance,R.C., Coffman,C.B., Starr,J.L., Paltineanu,I.C.,
Lu,Y.C., and Watkins,B.K. (2000). Performance of reduced-tillage cropping
systems for sustainable grain production in Maryland. American Journal of
Alternative Agriculture 15, 79-87.

--
Roger L Morton
Opinons expressed in this posting are personal and do not reflect the
position of my employer