Is industrial farming acceptable as necessary economic engine?

Letter of the Day

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
Published on August 19, 2014

Editor: I thank Alan Holman for his August 16 column “It costs a pile to grow a potato.”  He nicely describes P.E.I. agriculture for what it is: modern industrial operations more closely related to things like mining or major manufacturing than to our benign image of “family farms.” Thus, we should not be surprised that the requirements for large-scale crop monoculture mean that nothing much else can survive in the outdoor factories: bees, birds and most mammals must go elsewhere or perish. In some cases, even the soil must be killed in order to support such an industry.

I think it strange that we seem to get alarmed only when farming is linked to fish kills or anoxic waterways. Why should we worry about a few fish? Surely sports fishers can find something else to do; perhaps they could go online for virtual fishing experiences. After all, what matters is the economic engine that is modern farming, and all of the spinoffs that come from it. We willingly sacrifice much natural capital in pursuit of the ideal french fry, but I suppose our society must have some sort of measurable goals.

We thus accept industrial farming as the required economic engine without which our Island would somehow sink without trace. At the same time, we have constant worries about this — will the weather hold, will there be enough water, will the market let producers gain a profit? And there are ominous signs; some consumers are becoming restive about pesticide residues, and GMO foods, and exactly what is meant by ‘food safety.’ I have no idea where all of this is leading; I am quite content to leave the prophesying to your editors and columnists.

Good luck to all.

Ian MacQuarrie,

Hazel Grove