J500 Media and the Environment

“If anybody has any objections speak now or forever hold your peace” by Janie

Progressive scientists and organic foodies rejoice!

Pamela Ronald, author of Tomorrow’s Table, has found the answer to our agricultural problems, the peace pipe in the feud between genetic engineering and organic farming!

She claims that the solution to feeding a growing global population, the destruction of natural habitats for cropland, and the health risks of pesticides actually lies in the marriage of genetic engineering and organic farming.  In order to feed the potential 9.2 billion mouths in 2050, oceans of wild land would have to be cleared and converted into cropland.  Millions of species would lose their homes and their lives and the environment would face tremendous degradation.  However, the holy union of genetics and organics provides an alternative path.


Organics (no pesticides ) ♥ Genetically Engineering (greater product yield) =

9.2 billion full stomachs – environmental degradation – death of millions of species – health risks of pesticides

It seems like Ronald’s got the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything and it doesn’t include the number 42.  Right?

I beg to differ.  Though the concept seems attractive and relatively simple, it fails to recognize the greater issues at hand.  I am a firm believer that the Earth has a carrying capacity for the human population.  Yes, even we have a limit, though we oftentimes refuse to acknowledge it.  As we continue to reproduce, aided by modern medicine, technology, and science, our numbers continue to skyrocket and our impact on the Earth continues to intensify.  And as with any species that exceeds carrying capacity, the only result will be the devastation of our environment and death.

What Ronald is proposing is perpetuating the overpopulation issue.  Using our oh-so-powerful methods of controlling our natural environment, we can continue to feed and reproduce, feed and reproduce.  However, while it may quiet our current problems, it is merely a quick fix to a complex problem.

Should we simply let many of the world’s people starve?  Is it inhumane to think so?  Are there any other solutions?

I don’t pretend to have the answers to these questions.  But I do beg you to think about the implications of these “solutions” and remember that while we can be hopeful for our future, we must be realistic as well.

Janie Chen

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7 Comments so far
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You raise good points about the connection between the number of people needing to be feed and the way in which we are going to feed them. It is especially relevant in light of the previous administration’s stance on helping groups that promoted birth control. Not only would reevaluating whether or not we should help promote birth control and the like help with food and the environment, it’d also help with so many other aspects (health, warfare, etc). I know I probably sound a broken record, but, to me, it seems much harder to perpetuate our current food lifestyle with the knowledge that we could be helping so many more; the 16lbs of grain that go into 1lb of beef could, at a subsistence level of ~1/2lb, feed 32 people.

Comment by marybethw

It’s still such a “taboo” argument to ask people to stop reproducing, and I wonder if it will ever be OK for people to discuss.

I’ve also read that we have enough food in the world, but the distribution of that food is lacking. Is there any way to solve the political and transportation problems before we talk about population control?

Comment by Lauren Keith

I agree, the distribution of food in the world is horribly off balance. However, how are we to feed the world’s poor when the world’s wealthy and powerful refuse to give up their lifestyle?
I also agree that population control via birth control is a solution. But how can we expect third world countries to employ these methods while we won’t even consider it a possibility for ourselves? Some argue that the third-world population should be controlled because they are uneducated, poor, and diseased. I find that argument ridiculous. Who put them in that condition in the first place?

Comment by janiec52

I definitely agree with the carrying capacity idea. That’s they way other species have to live, and we just consider it a part of nature. Why is it that we think we can out think things like this? We’re ignoring the fact that all our technological innovations will just lead to something far worse…

Comment by amandat09

I have the answer… or no, Jonathan Swift did centuries ago. We can solve the problems of the poor and uneducated, overpopulation and our food system. In a little article entitled “A Modest Proposal”, Swift advocated eating unwanted babies. We have a solution.

Comment by brennad87

Your comment made me laugh so hysterically, tears came to my eyes.


Comment by janiec52

Great dialog. The United States consumes roughly 20% of many of our most important resources. Is ecological damage a result of overpopulation or disproportionate consumption?

Comment by j500

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