Big Ag trying to hijack Waxman-Markey climate change bill

Time to eat your intellectual spinach: Cap-and-trade schemes are nobody’s favorite beach reading, but Tom Philpott is valiantly, and cogently, tackling an important twist in the wrangling over the Waxman-Markey climate change bill. Some of the largest corporations in the agribusiness sector are trying to seriously compromise the legislation’s ability to mitigate climate change, by seeking to reward farmers for current practices: in other words, create another legislative “sop to the large agribusiness firms that dominate our food system,” writes Philpott. Take the farming practice called “no-till,” in which farmers plant directly into fields without plowing. (Disturbing the soil  cuts down on its ability to sequester carbon.) One of the main reasons farmers plow is to control weeds, but in the practice “chemical no-till,” farmers rely on chemical herbicides for weed control, like Monsanto’s Roundup — from which Monsanto now clears more than $1 billion per year in profits alone. The Big Ag-backed carbon-trading scheme would reward farmers with carbon credits for this practice. As Philpott goes on to explain, the science doesn’t even support that the no-till practice even sequesters carbon. You know what does though? Organic agriculture. Wanna bet on the chances that there’ll be any mention of it in Waxman-Markey? (Grist; a followup post today confirms that Big Ag interests are probably going to get their way on this.)

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