Food is the new internet. Explosive growth, monumentally important, and future-changing, food and the food movement are defining this generation of businesses and NGOs. Hear from one of the brightest minds out there.
“There are some very important people out there that are telling us that the critical problem in front of us is that we need to make more calories to feed the world.”
As soon as Kimbal Musk said that, he verified himself as being on the right side of the food movement. While many nuances separate him and other food movement thinkers, having someone in the “Ag Tech” space acknowledge this is hugely important. If shows that an entrepreneur can distance themselves from the industrial food mindset even if they still want to make money. Check him out in the video below.
And here is his Medium page where he shares a lot of great thoughts.
[This next part is pretty tangential to hydroponic and vertical farming, but an important discussion that people in the industry often gloss over. An off-topic warning is fair]
You might be wondering a little bit about what was stated above – that Musk has put himself on the right side of the food movement by dispelling the “feed the world” myth. Well, “we need to feed the world” has been the line of biotechnology, seed, and pesticide companies for years and they use that as the reason they need strict intellectual property laws that prevent farmers from saving seeds, the reason they need to charge high prices for seeds that can be used with the pesticides they also profit from, and the reason they promote industrial agriculture (the new name is precision agriculture).
But, that’s not their real responsibility. You don’t have to be anti-corporation, anti-business, or anti-science to recognize that these companies (there are really only 6, soon to be less, of them, despite the anti-trust laws that should be protecting us: Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Dow, BASF, Dupont) have a primary responsibility to their shareholders. That’s fine. But it doesn’t mean you have to buy the bullshit they expouse.
The truth of the matter is that technology is morally neutral. That means that saying, for example, that the current generation of genetically engineered crops have done more harm than good is not the same as writing off genetic engineering or being anti-science. Musk gets into that a little in his presentation as well. What it might mean is that someone thinks genetic engineering should be regulated more, the burden of proof to ensure the safety to humans and the environment of a product should be on the companies making the product instead of the public sector or an inefficient bureaucratic organization, or that future GE technology could be absolutely amazing even though the present is not.
So, the companies and their proponents (Bill Gates in Musk’s video) are incorrect. Small, agroecological farmers are doing more to feed the world than they are.
Musk recognizes that something is wrong with the “feed the world line” and therefor with the industrial system of agriculture that line is used to justify. He recognizes it’s entrenched because of a lack of conscious, sustainable innovation (when he talks about older farmers who don’t know how to do anything else). He also recognizes that technology has a huge place in the future of the food movement. He just understands what Gates etc. do not: technology has to fit the context.
Kimbal Musk is even more on point than what I thought here, and the more I learn about what he’s working on, the more excited I am. This video in particular reminds me of this talk by Caleb Harper and the internet of food idea. This is all fantastic stuff that we need more, smart involvement in.
But, which video did you like better? Caleb’s or Kimbal’s? Let me know below or on Twitter @proverticalfarm.
This is such a polemic debate that I’m not going to get into all the nuance of opinion or engage in a discussion here. Internet discussions about genetic engineering tend to devolve into “where’s your evidence” then “that study is flawed/disreputable” by both sides. The best way to have those discussions is in person or by watching well-informed debates, and I encourage everyone to do so.
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