Environmental change begins at grocery store

Ignoring the industrial agricultural complex

The algae bloom that plagued Lake Erie and poisoned the drinking water is not a new or local problem. These toxic algae blooms occur regularly in Lake Erie; once a year, we see them in the Gulf of Mexico; the Bay of Biscay in France sees them as does the west coast of India. This is not a new phenomenon.

According to the Aug. 17 cover story, “‘We are losing Lake Erie again’,” the superintendent of the Oregon Water Treatment Plant infers that the farmers are to blame with their nutrient loading while also speculating that the farmers are saying, “Oh, it’s not us, not us.”

This article and its display of finger pointing fail to address the industrial and systemic problem with our agriculture industry.

Farmers are the end-users of products they must use to get the yields they must make to meet demand, and make a living. The crops that they grow are engineered to grow in only one way that requires chemicals and fertilizers that ultimately get into our rivers and streams that feed lakes; and, often, this runoff accumulates in dangerous concentrations. These seeds and plants are hardy and engineered to be resilient, high-yielding, high-performing plants that are resistant to intense pesticides and herbicides. These pesticides and herbicides are specialized to kill all other plant life. This is the nature of our Big Ag system.

According to Steven L. Hopp, adjunct associate profession of Environmental Studies at Emory and Henry College: “The standard approach (of our agricultural system) has been to pump up the dosage of chemicals. In 1965, U.S. farmers used 335 million pounds of pesticides. In 1989, they used 806 million pounds. Less than 10 years after that, it was 985 million. That’s three and a half million pounds of chemicals for every person in the country, at a cost of $8 billion. Twenty percent of these approved-for-use pesticides are listed by the EPA as carcinogenic in humans.”

Ignoring our agricultural policy in this issue is neglectful. Pointing fingers at the water treatment facilities and farmers will only take us so far by patching a system that bring us subsidized corn that enables farmers to keep beef prices low, feeding our unapologetic and uninformed appetite for cheap meat. What we need is policy change. We must first be willing to reflect upon our own consumption of processed food and corn-fed beef, understand how our industrialized food complex works — know where your food comes from — and work towards encouraging policy changes. You make choices every day when you walk into a grocery store. If we are not willing to reflect upon our personal consumption choices and advocate for change, then we will need to resign ourselves to the fact that toxic blooms will continue to occur and we will poison ourselves every now and then. — NATALIE SKILLITER, DAYTON

Speak up

When Socialist Barack Obama became president in 2008, Dow Jones was limping at 7,000, but now crossed the unbelievable 17,000 mark. The Wall Street Bulls dare not look the Gift Horse in the mouth.

With the latest beheading of an American, surely President Obama has got to realize the peasants are really starting to get restless with him and his administration.

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