Bigger But Not Better
1st April, 2003
Myth Number 5: INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE IS EFFICIENT
The truth: small farms produce more agricultural output per unit area than large ones. Moreover, larger, less diverse farms require far more mechanical and chemical inputs, which are ruinous for the environment.
Proponents of industrial agriculture claim that 'bigger is better' when it comes to food production. They argue that the larger the farm, the more efficient it is. They admit that these huge corporate farms mean the loss of family farms and rural communities, but they maintain that this is simply the inevitable cost of efficient food production. And agri-business advocates don't just promote big farms; they also push big technology. They typically ridicule small-scale farm technology as grossly inefficient, while heralding intensive use of chemicals, massive machinery, computerisation and genetic engineering - the affordability and implementation of which are only feasible on large farms. The marriage of huge farms with 'mega-technology' is sold to the public as the basic requirement for efficient food production. Argue against size and technology - the two staples of modern agriculture - and, agri-business apologists insist, you're undermining production efficiency and endangering the world's food...
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