Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Organic at all Scales


One of the challenges that I think will ultimately face the organic movement as it continues to grow is what to do with large-scale commodity crops.  Many would challenge the fundamental notion that there even should be such a thing, but given that cheap commodity crops are an integral part of our food system, organic does need an effective approach.  I am not implying that it doesn't.  It's just that most of the organic efforts that I am familiar with, focus on higher value vegetable crops, and to a lesser degree, milk & meat.

This article raises this question in many ways, taking it even further with the issue of Genetic Engineering to make sugar beets.  Sugar beets is a clever crop, because unlike most GE crops to date, there is no residual DNA in the final product, sugar, that can be pointed to as the immediate threat, as was the case with GE corn and wheat.  Additionally, using GE beets will result in a 40-50% decrease in use of pesticides, at least in the short term.

I would love input.  Are there organic sugar beet farmers out there?  How do they deal with weeds?  Can they intercrop, or cover crop to deal with it?

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