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Indian farmers should go organic: Prince Charles
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|by The Financial Express - Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Delivering the Albert Howard lecture to the Indian audience through video-conferencing, he said that worldwide organic farming has proved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the extent of 35%, both directly and indirectly.
Not only the emission from farmers’ field would be reduced, the energy used in production of chemical fertilisers and pesticides would also be saved to a considerable extent, he said. Energy would also be conserved if excessive farm mechanisation is replaced by improved local sustainable technologies.
Albert Howard lecture was orgainsed by Navdanya on October 2, which is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti here in Delhi. The lecture series are organised annually in remembrance of Albert Howard who was sent to India as the imperial economic botanist to improve Indian agriculture. However, in the course of his stay in India, he was impressed by the traditional organic farming and tried to convince the industrial world about the benefits of organic agriculture.
Prince Charles negated the myth that turning back to organic farming would result in lowering production and productivity.
He said that worldwide experiences have shown that it has lead to increased production and productivity. The ecological gains were enormous with lesser use of water, increased soil fertility, environment free from chemical contamination and disease-free health for farmers, he said.
He said that organic farming was in the interests of smallholders. He was disappointed with the unfortunate fact that chemical agriculture which was about 100-year old has come to be known as “conventional agriculture”�, while the fact remains that it was industrial agriculture.
He also criticised the genetically modified (GM) crops as not capable of resolving the food security issue. “There are reports of GM crops causing health and environmental hazards. We want the world to be GM-free,”� he said.
Prince Charles said that there was a growing market for organic food as consumers were gradually becoming aware of its benefits.
Earlier in the day, John Fagan of the US-based Institute of Science Technology and Public Policy cited several benefits of organic farming as opposed to chemical and transgenic agriculture.
“Chemical agriculture and transgenic agriculture are two sides of the same coin. Both are intended to increase corporate stronghold over agriculture and are hazardous to health as well as the environment,”� he said.
He said that exports of US and Canadian GM feed to Europe have marked a sharp decline. US farmers are hesitant to cultivate GM wheat, even though it is approved by the USFDA.
Retail chains like Mac Donalds have refused to use GM potato and Wal-Mart has refused to use milk containing recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) keeping in view the consumers’ preference for non-GM food.
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