By Arnold Kling
Jonathan Rauch says that agriculture tends to abuse the environment.
The trade-offs are fundamental. Organic farming, for example, uses no artificial fertilizer, but it does use a lot of manure, which can pollute water and contaminate food. Traditional farmers may use less herbicide, but they also do more ploughing, with all the ensuing environmental complications. Low-input agriculture uses fewer chemicals but more land. The point is not that farming is an environmental crime—it is not—but that there is no escaping the pressure it puts on the planet.
He argues that genetically modified crops can reduce the environmental costs of farming. However, he cautions that many environmentalists are also hostile to genetic engineering.
For Discussion. Which trends in technology are likely to reduce environmental risks and which trends are likely to increase those risks?