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Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil.To feed the world, to clean the air and water, we need to change what we do with our soils.This podcast looks at the many variants of regenerative food growing. How? Why? When?We must be the ChangeUnderground!


42 #worldorganicnews 2016 11 28


An Introduction to Factory Farming – Revolution In Media

industrial agriculture described + a comparison of the benefits and disadvantages – ECOSYSTEMS UNITED

World Organic News No Dig Gardening Book

This is the World Organic News Podcast for the week ending 28th of November 2016.

Jon Moore reporting!


This week we begin with a post from the blog Revolution in Media entitled: An Introduction to Factory Farming by Larry Parker.


The author quotes the wikipedia definition of factory farming and then interrogates it.



At first glance, one can’t help but notice a few interesting terms in this definition, like “controversial practices”, “intensive agriculture”, and “industrialized production”, words that certainly conjure up a set of powerful images. But of even greater importance than these is the phrase: “…making use of economies of scale to produce the highest output at the lowest cost.” And, what does this mean exactly for the purposes of a discussion about farm animals?

End Quote.


As we have discussed before on this podcast, it means a lifetime of suffering and misery for the animals. As Larry Parker, the author goes on to point out, the focus on the bottom line means the suffering of the animals is of little or no consequence. Over time these CAFOs, as they are called, have grown in size. Even the use of the word CAFO is part of the problem. The fully name for these factories is Confined Animal Feeding Operation. Let’s take a moment and look at those words. Confined, what we do to criminals, Animal, straightforward enough, Feeding, not raising, breeding, walking nor interacting just feeding and finally Operation, not farm but operation.


As I said these CAFOs have grown in size over time to achieve the sacred effect of economies of scale. Now this makes some sense if you’re producing widgets but in factory farming, we are dealing with live animals. Animal species that evolved in environments which did not include standing around eating and defecating and then standing in that. Do I need to carry on? These “business units” in air quotes, need to end and end yesterday. Yes, meat will be more expensive and maybe less plentiful but so too will the manure lakes be less plentiful. Stock will be back on pasture and nothing improves the health of pastures and stock than having the stock on pastures.


The underpinning of this whole system is a series of subsidies which producers dirt cheap corn. Remove the subsidies and people will stop growing so much corn. It is this one particular market manipulation which distorts the entire agricultural and food supply systems which is leading to distortions in the health system.  Cheap corn equals cheap meat but it also equals cheaps biscuits, snacks and whole host of unnecessary foods contributing to obesity.


And corn is but one variation on this theme. It is grown all on its own across vast swathes of country. It is a monoculture. Given the excessive hybridisation of the seeds these monoculture arise from, they are almost, the same plant across those swathes of land.


The blog ECOSYSTEMS UNITED brings us a post: industrial agriculture described + a comparison of the benefits and disadvantages. And this is fascinating. As we’ve discussed before more food has been grown more In air quotes “efficiently” since the second world war. This post quantifies this:



...this system has dramatically increased the amount of food produced – between 1960 and 2010 the production of cereals increased from 900 million to 2,500 million tons.

End Quote.


The post further points out:


Industrial agriculture is a form of food production based on the assertion that a farm is a factory that requires inputs, such as pesticides, hormones, feed, fertilizer and fossil fuels, in order to produce outputs like meat, cereals, and plant products. The goal of industrialized agriculture is to increase yields as effectively as possible while reducing costs. These efforts are generally dependent on synthetic chemicals, large quantities of water, major transportation systems and mechanical technologies.

End quote.


And this is the dilemma facing the world. We can continue to produce monoculturally at the cost of oil based chemical inputs, what appears to be excessive water usage and oil based transportation systems. You can see the problem? Apart from the water usage, the other two underpinnings are based upon fossil fuels. The continued burning of fossil fuels will contribute to climate change and then areas of current food production will become unsustainable. We have an opportunity to affect change. COP Paris, COP Marrakech offer some hope but we actually have to do something differently or we will continue along our current path. Obviously!

There have been unintended consequences apart from those discussed above. The post makes this point in relation to pesticides.




  • Despite there being a 10 fold increase in the amount of pesticides applied, there is double the crop damage by pests than past decades. This is attributed a lack of crop rotation;
  • $1 in pesticides equals $4 in protected crops, but 37% of crops are still destroyed by pests;
  • 18% of pesticides and 90% of fungicides are carcinogenic;
  • Food is only tested for 40 of 600 agrochemicals and 3% of all chicken sold has illegal residue;
  • Bees contribute $40 million worth of labor annually, but 20% of bee colonies are adversely affected by pesticide application and 5% die outright;
  • 50%-70% of pesticides applied by aircraft never make it to their intended location;
  • 520 mite, 150 plant pathogens, and 273 weed species are resistant to pesticides and require reapplication. Likewise, 10% of all pesticide applications are due to resistance;
  • 72 million wild birds are estimated to die from pesticides each year [this is a conservative estimate]


End Quote


It seems clear to me the time for change is here, or more accurately was here ten years ago. We still have time. Bill Mollison pointed out and I’ve quoted him several times so I’ll paraphrase: We need to move from consumption to production. If 10% of start growing fruit and vegetables we can change the world.


I’ve included an Amazon link to an eBook I’ve written on no dig gardening in the show notes. $1 is all it costs and will have you moving from consumption to production in no time.


We can do this, we must do this. The current paradigm is revealing itself as bankrupt. Food shortages shocked the world in the first decade of this century as a result of price rises. What happens when a series of unexpected events shuts down the transport system for more than the three days worth of food in the supermarkets? By each of growing something, locally, we cushion ourselves and our fellow citizens from these sorts of shocks.


Let’s get our hands dirty and bellies full!


And that brings us to the end of this week’s podcast.


If you’ve liked what you heard, please tell everyone you know any way you can! I’d also really appreciate a review on iTunes. This helps others to find us. Thanks in advance!


Any suggestions, feedback or criticisms of the podcast or blog are most welcome. email me at


Thank you for listening and I'll be back in a week.




An Introduction to Factory Farming – Revolution In Media

industrial agriculture described + a comparison of the benefits and disadvantages – ECOSYSTEMS UNITED

World Organic News No Dig Gardening Book

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