Famine in America?

Legume varietes (Image at www.cintdis.org)

Legume varietes (Image at http://www.cintdis.org)

by MADGE

Erik Scott is a seed dealer and agronomist from South Dakota in the US. In this interview, he states that a famine in the US is quite likely for two reasons:

  • Very narrow seed genetics
  • Dependence on imported nitrogen fertilizer

Erik explains that farmers in his area used to grow a wide variety of crops, saved and developed their own seed varieties. Now the main crops are corn and soy, both of these are genetically modified. These crops are grown for several reasons:

Limited genetics in seed – like the Irish potato famine.

A farmer may buy hybrid seeds from 5 different companies but the seeds can all be from the same genetic family. This is setting the US up for a similar disaster to the Irish potato famine of the 1840’s. The Irish grew the “lumper” variety of potato. They were all clones of each other. So when a fungal disease hit, the lumper potato harvest failed. The Andes, where potatoes originated, have 5000 varieties of potatoes. When disease or adverse weather conditions occur there, some potatoes varieties always survive. Famine is avoided by having diversity.

Nitrogen fertilizer

Crop rotation and animal manures were the traditional way to enrich the soil with nitrogen. Then the Haber Bosch process allowed inorganic nitrogen fertilizer to be produced. It is very energy intensive to manufacture but it allows the continuous growing of corn and soy on the same fields year after year. The US imports this nitrogen fertilizer and Erik Scott sees this dependence as equivalent to the US’s dependence on imported oil.

Read the full post at MADGE

 

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