> The following is from the article "Paradise sold" in the May 15,
> 2006 edition of "The New Yorker". It is a review of three books on
> the phenomenon of the growth of the organic foods industry in the
> "Pollan (one of the authors of one of the books reviewed) seems
> aware of the contradictions entailed in trying to eat in this
> rigorously ethical spirit, but he doesn't give much space to the
> most urgent moral problem with the organic ideal: how to feed the
> world's population. At the beginning of the twentieth century,
> there was a serious scare about an imminent Malthusian crisis: the
> world's rapidly expanding population was coming up against the
> limits of agricultural productivity. The Haber-Bosch process (the
> first instance of being able to economically process synthetic
> fertilizer from ammonia) averted disaster, and was largely
> responsible for a fourfold increase in the world's food supply
> during the twentieth centur. Earl Butz, Nixon's Secretary of
> Agriculture, was despised by organic farmers, but he might not have
> been wrong when he said, in 1971, that if American returned to
> organic methods 'someone must decide which fifty million of our
> people will starve!'. According to a more recent estimate, if
> synthetic fertilizers suddenly disappeared from the face of the
> earth, about two billion people would perish."
+++ Synthetic fertilizer is big business and, as such doesn't have to
be useful. Millions are starving anyway and, fertilizer isn't the
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