Agriculture Contains Public Enemies 2, 3 & 4

In life, it seems like there always needs to be a bad guy. Maybe it’s just human nature to look for some kind of public enemy when something goes wrong.

Back in the early part of the 20th century, the alcoholic beverage industry was Public Enemy No. 1. When I was growing up in the 1970s, the tobacco industry filled this role. Today, the fast food marketplace is getting much of the blame for U.S. societal ills.

For agriculture, this public enemy stigma is, unfortunately, all too familiar. Although our industry has never risen to the No. 1 spot on the hit list, it could be argued that crop protection products, fertilizer and biotech seed easily occupy spots 2, 3 and 4 in the public enemy ranking. For evidence, consider just these three recent examples:

  • Various environmental groups for the past few years have called for the banning of the herbicide atrazine — despite its 50-year track record —  because of a supposed link between it and environmental concerns.
  • A recent study entitled “Troubled Waters” by the Environ­mental Work­ing Group blames farming and its use of nitrate fertilizers for many of the nation’s current water issues.
  • The Save Our Crop Coalition, made up of 2,000 growers and food companies, is urging the USDA and EPA to delay the introduction of 2,4-D and dicamba-resistant crops — scheduled to appear during the next few years — because these could lead to an increased use of these herbicides by growers, potentially increasing the risk for spray drift issues.

In each of these instances, the public enemy moniker is being hung prominently on the necks of parts of our industry that are critical to increasing yields to feed, cloth and fuel global appetites. Discontinuing or preventing these products/practices would make the world a brighter, happier place for everyone, claim the critics, and all of us would be living in paradise on Earth.

But, going back to my first example, complete temperance in the early 20th century didn’t stop overdrinking and its associated problems. It merely pushed them into new, covert directions until Prohibition was repealed.

Banning atrazine, likewise, would cause soil problems. According to one University of Wisconsin-Madison study, using atrazine allows growers to reduce aggregate soil erosion by up to 85 million tons annually.

Regarding nitrate fertilizers, a study conducted by The Fertilizer Institute found that Illinois growers are producing 83% more corn using 40% fewer nutrients than they did 30 years ago.

As for the next generation of biotech crops, formulators such as Dow AgroSciences and BASF have pointed out that their new versions of 2,4-D choline and dicamba are enhanced with technologies to minimize the potential for physical drift.

It’s refreshing to see our industry being so proactive defending itself against these accusations. Hopefully, this will eventually remove some or all of these items from the public enemy hit list.

Leave a Reply

Eric Sfiligoj Stories

Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
Eric SfiligojA Whole New Precision Ag World
June 2, 2014
Excitement and technology developments could make 2014 a year to remember for precision ag. Read More
Eric SfiligojOngoing State Biotech Crop Labeling Laws Could Receive Federal Stop Sign
May 19, 2014
Proposed legislation in Congress might prevent states from passing biotech crop labeling laws. Read More
Eric SfiligojAgriculture: A Need For The Long View
May 1, 2013
Members of the agricultural community might be tempted to take short-term fixes to problems, but only a long-term approach will ultimately prevail. Read More

Trending Articles

FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More

Latest News

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Crowd Tops 2013 Show
September 19, 2014
The 52nd annual Ohio State University Farm Science Review welcomed more than 130,000 farmers, industry professionals, FFA students and agricultural enthusiasts during the three-day event. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Approves Enlist Following Rigorous Review
September 18, 2014
Dow AgroSciences now awaits EPA registration of Enlist Duo herbicide, the companion herbicide to the Enlist traits, which is expected in the near future. Read More
BlendersYargus Appoints New Plant Manager
September 18, 2014
Steve Shaffer will direct and coordinate daily operations at the company’s Marshall, IL, manufacturing plant, where the Layco line of material handling equipment is produced. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More