Opinion: Ag chemicals are the key to food security

By: Trevor Whittington, WAFarmers CEO

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Contrary to the 'greenie movement''s beliefs' WAFarmers CEO Trevor Whittington believes ag chemicals do have a future and part to play in the worlds food security

Ag chemicals are the key to food secuirtys according to WAFarmers CEO Trevor Whittington
Agricultural chemicals deserve to be recognised as playing a key part in the third agricultural revolution says WAFarmers CEO Trevor Whittington

Ask any Australian who is sympathetic to the Green movement if they think agricultural chemicals are good or bad and the overwhelming answer will be that they are bad.

Show them a picture of an organic farm and ask them if the produce is healthier than that grown on a modern farm using chemicals and they will confidently answer, yes it is so.

Much of the anti-farm chemical thinking spouted by the Greens has its origins in Rachael Carson’s book Silent Spring, written back in 1962 and now seen as the woke bible that kicked off the modern environmental movement.

Carsen bemoans the impact of industrial farming on the environment and food safety, serving up doomsday scenarios of what will happen if we continue with the use of genetically selected seed varieties, synthetic fertilisers and the devil of them all – farm chemicals.

At the top of her list is the evils of 24D and DDT, developed in the 1940s along with systemic fungicides like triazines (1950s).

By the time Carson’s book appeared there was a rush of new herbicides, pesticides and fungicides being offered to farmers to help break the pest and disease cycle that had plagued the earth since time in memorial.

These chemicals became a key part of what is now known, to the horror of the Green movement, as the Green Revolution: that great leap forward in farm productivity underwritten by big business and big science.

WAFarmers CEO Trevor Whittington
Trevor Whittington - CEO WAFarmers

It was a revolution unlike the normal left wing revolutions as it embraced everything the Greens hate while enriching the peasanty and filling their bellies.

It’s hard to ignore its success in paving the way to help end the curse of famine and to keep up with a rapidly growing global population.

Not surprisingly we never heard from the Green movement on how the world was going to feed itself back in 1962 without these chemicals when the population hit a record 2.5 billion and in the same year 50 million people died of famine, or in 1974 when 1.5 million died of famine while the world rocketed past 4 billion, or today as it approaches 8 billion and there is no famine.

Those with the wealth to consume organic soy lattes and time to ponder the merits of a world without chemicals seem comfortable in their certainty that organic farming is the only way to save the worlds soils and our planet.

No big boom sprays feature in their dreams, just lush pastures and bumper crops.

Despite their dismissal of the Greens, agricultural chemicals deserve to be recognised as playing a key part in the third agricultural revolution, this is the one that following the domestication of cereals and livestock 10,000 years ago, the second that applied common sense to crop rotations

around 500 years ago and now the third, barely over half a century old, which links science to technology.

The third revolution is a silent revolution that has led to a bountiful harvest and saved many millions of hectares of virgin vegetation from being cleared, not to mention hundreds of millions of lives.

While Bob Geldolf might have tried to raise funds for the devastating Ethiopian drought of 1985 that cost 1.2 million lives, it was the shareholders of the likes of DuPont and Dowell that contributed the most to the survivors’ ongoing food security.

Unfortunately, the Green Movement refuse to accept the lessons of science and history, preferring to offer up visions of a future free of the evils of chemicals like glyphosate and spray seed; a loss that would surely leave millions of bellies empty and the clearing of more land for agriculture.

Agricultural chemicals have been one of the great revolutionary success stories of the modern era, its technical successes should be lauded, and its practitioners encouraged to continue to adopt the latest chemicals and purchase the latest spraying equipment.

Maybe it is time for someone to write the book Fat Harvest in time for the 60th anniversary of Silent Spring because that is what we have achieved.

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