All thinking people are concerned about the world food supply. Quite apart from the risk of interruptions in the production of food (see 1.20), we are becoming increasingly dependent on agricultural methods that are not sustainable. By definition, an unsustainable agriculture will eventually cease to function. The misuse of vertical resistance (see 5.5) is a clear component of unsustainability, while the use of horizontal resistance is obviously a contribution to sustainability.
The replacement of relatively small farms and individual farmers by so-called 'agribusiness' in which many small farms are consolidated into large commercial operations, not unlike the Soviet collective farms, may also be unsustainable. Businessmen do not make good farmers. Biological systems that are left to the ignorant care of an MBA (Master of Business Administration) tend to degenerate. Major losses in soil structure and soil microbiological activity in agribusiness farms have already occurred and are there for all to see.
Similarly, the Soviet system of large collective farms collapsed spectacularly because they were not economically sustainable. However, this does not imply that these collectives were agriculturally sustainable. Bureaucrats do not make good farmers. The best motive for sustainable agriculture comes from the individual farmer who wants his son to inherit a farm that is in 'good heart'. But such farmers are being driven out of production by the economic pressure of big business.
Similar comments can be made about genetic engineering. This is something of a Pandora's box of unknown troubles. We are putting transgenic plants (known as 'GMOs' or genetically modified organisms) into the farming system while knowing little or nothing of the long-term consequences. These consequences could be comparable to killer bees in Latin America, Colorado beetles in Europe, or rabbits in Australia, in the sense that they are unforeseeable and irreversible. If we consider only transgenic resistances, the use of this method of parasite control promises a repeat of the consequences of the use of vertical resistance (see 5.5). All the other imponderables of genetic engineering suggest a reduction rather than a gain in sustainability, if only because of obvious suboptimisation (see 1.11).
In the long run, the sustainability of agriculture is possibly the most important argument favouring the use of horizontal resistance.
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