UPDATE! Future of Our Food and Farms Summit

Jill Taylor Bussiere jdt at itol.com
Tue Nov 14 17:20:27 EST 2000


And I agree with what Aaron said.  It is only in such a forum as Marie is
telling us about that Dennis Avery should be - a place where his false facts
can be refuted - a place where he can not get away with his usual tactics of
misinformation. Yes, he has done a lot of harm to organic farmers.  But
since he is still at large doing his destruction, it would be best to engage
him among those that can show him for what he is.

                            Jill
>
> I would like to second much of Del's assessment of Dennis Avery, and the
> Hudson Institute. About 5 years ago I attended a large meeting in Vermont
> where Avery was invited to be a member of a panel of speakers to discuss
> sustainable agriculture, and how farmers can make a transition towards
> more environmentally and financially sustainable systems.
>
> This was just after the publication of his book, titled something like
> "Pesticides and Plastics Saving World Agriculture." Six months earlier I
> had to represent his viewpoint on "Sustainable Agriculture" in a
> university class (comprised of farmers, extension folks & students). I
> read just about everything he and the Hudson Institute published to that
> point.
>
> The panel was one of the more balanced ones I've ever seen for the forum
> - extension agents, conventional dairy & christmas tree farmers, organic
> dairy & vegetable producers. And Dennis Avery. The farmers and extension
> agents were about exploring all the systems, to pick out the better and
> more applicable facets in order to apply them in a conscientious and
> deliberate manner. As the individuals on the panel introduced themselves,
> everyone was very careful to keep the attacks and rhetoric to a minumum.
> Watching the crowd, heads nodded for every speaker, and eyes rolled for
> each as well.
>
> However, I've never seen as diverse a group be so united by annoyance and
> disbelief as when Avery began to speak. He immediately, and unabashadely
> termed Organic Agriculture "Low-Yield agriculture." He cited figure after
> figure of the increase of land, energy, & other resources organics
> require, along with reduced yeilds figures. People were shocked - it was,
> of all people, on of the more "frowned upon," larger scaled dairy farmers
> who stood up and blasted Avery for his "low-yeild" title. "Who," he
> asked, "is farming for less yeild?" The farmers around his dairy that
> produced organically, dairy and vegetables, had comprable yeilds, and
> seemed to have lower costs and/or higher profitability - this was what
> had led him to attend and examine the possibility of transitioning to an
> organic production system.  Avery was reduced to spending his time making
> personal attacks on the organic and sustainable advocates, and
> reiterating his misleading and often very dated statistics and figures.
>
> Dennis Avery is an important figure to keep tabs on. It is well worth
> going to any forum he is participating in. He is a dangerous figure, not
> only for Organics, but rational sustainable change in any form. This is
> not because he is some demogauge, as some like to paint him, but because
> he is extremely intelligent and articulate. Many of his ideas have merit,
> although I would submit that his conclusion is only reached by very
> biased leaps of logic and faith. Countless Organic producers utilize many
> of the technologies he points out in his latest book - high tech
> species-specific pesticides (regardless of their origins), plastic
> mulches, plastic drip tubing and tapes, high degrees of specialization
> and mechanization, etc.
>
> Go see him. Listen to what he says. Read what he publishes. Expose his
> hypocricy with understanding, not just with emotion.
>
> Aaron





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