Organic Farming: How to Bring Organic Farming to America

One question that is necessary to answer is how can organic farming benefit America? Reading Food and Agriculture Organizations Of United Nations, “Organic Agriculture: What Are the Benefits” explains organic agriculture takes a proactive approach as opposed to waiting for destruction or treating problems after they occur. In many agricultural areas in the US, pollution with groundwater courses with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is a major problem, however if there was a switch to organic farming, synthetic fertilizers are not allowed, but instead organic fertilizers (manure) enhancing the soil and water infiltration. In terms of global warming and climate change, organic agriculture contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming through its ability to sequester carbon in the soil. Many management practices used by organic agriculture increase the return of carbon to the soil, raising productivity and favouring carbon storage. Organic farming also positively effects biodiversity, eliminates GMOs, and encourages interactions within the agro-ecosystem that are vital for both agricultural production and nature conservation. In order to raise awareness

Cuba’s transition into organic farming was a necessity. However, it has proven success in their homeland and has allured other countries like the United States. In an interview with Judy Woodruf, Jeffery Brown, and Miguel Salcines, Miguel Salcines is the founder for Vivero Alamar Farm, which produces and supplies food for about 80,000 residents around the community. This is one of the 10,000 urban organic farms in Cuba that has received attention from Americans. Miguel says that his farm is almost like a school. People from all around the world come to this farm just to understand their processes and about urban farming.

However, a difference between Cuba and America is that Cuba was not worried about their carbon foot print or the negative externalities of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but that there were none of those resources anymore. Cuba stopped using the chemicals because there were no more chemicals. The idea did not come from idealism, which is what America is facing, but rather Orlando Lugo Fonte, President of Cuba’s National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), explains, “necessity gave birth to a new consciousness” (Craftsmanship Magazine).  Jason Reis, who owns an Organic Farm in Brooklyn, New York says when he looks at the organic farming in Cuba he sees a great example of permaculture and organic farming practices: interplanting, natural insecticides, marigolds to attract pollinators. He says and its not a “it’s not a monoculture. It’s not a field full of corn or soy like we see in the U.S.”

In another interview, Fernando Fues Jr. talks about his own local farm and the advantages of organic Farming. With organic agriculture, with agroecology, “we are able to produce healthy food in order to grow healthy people in the cities and in the whole country. And when we have this kind of system, then we can also assure that we have enough labor for the people in the countryside and better expectation for them to live better from their work.” The organic farming helps not only the livelihood but the work force. With the switch, while scaling back pesticides anywhere from 55-85 percent across a range of crops, peasant farmers produced 85 percent more tubers, 83 percent more vegetables, and 351 percent more beans. This is not just corn or soy like mentioned before as seen in US, there is a variety of agriculture, which is super beneficial to the natural world.

Despite these impressive statistics, and the success in Latin America countries, there is no agroecology movement in the US. These food revolutions are connected to the social movements of La Via Campensia. Even in Berkley California, where there is an increase of organic and sustainable farming and development, “they take the ecological principles, but strip it of its true social importance” says Miguel Altieri, UC Berkeley professor of agroecology. The social context has as much to do with democratizing food systems as with farming techniques. To change this and widened organic and sustainable farming in the US, two things need to happen:  access to land (particularly for younger farmers), and public investment in small-scale sustainable farming. In the U.S., the bulk of US farm subsidies benefit large-scale industrial farms; in Brazil, by comparison, national agricultural law requires the government to purchase 30 percent of small farms’ harvests, Altieri explains. “Can you imagine if that happened here?” Those laws happened because social movements brought pressure.

We have two paradigms that are clashing,” says Altieri, “the industrial model and the ecological one. Humanity has to make up its mind which way we want to go. The question for the US is, do we wait for the agricultural system to collapse before we make a change?”

Works Cited

Cook, Christopher. “Cuba’s Harvest of Surprises.” Craftmanships Magazine: January 15 2015. http://craftsmanship.net/cubas-harvest-surprises/

“Organic Farming Flourishes In Cuba, But Can It Survive Entry Of U.S. Agribusiness?” Democracy Now Newspaper: June 2 2015. http://www.democracynow.org/2015/6/2/organic_farming_flourishes_in_cuba_but

“Organic Agriculture: What are the environmental benefits of organic agriculture?” Food and Agriculture Organizations of United Nations. http://www.fao.org/organicag/oa-faq/oa-faq6/en//.

“What Can Cuba Teach America About Organic Farming?” PBS NewsHour: June 19 2015. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/cuba-can-teach-america-farming/.

Sex Work in Latin America

This week, I’ll be moving away from a focus on global views of sex work and sexual exploitation and looking at the mainstreaming and status of sex workers in Latin America. Learning about movements of sex workers to legitimize their profession in the eyes of the law and make movements to unionize is one of the things that got me so interested in the sex industry. I want to begin by clarifying that in the case of this blog post, I’m going to be focusing on autonomous sex workers, not sexually exploited people. I’ll also be comparing arguments about the legalization and mainstreaming of sex work in international contexts.

I’m going to be looking at the influence of mainstreaming, or lack thereof, on sex work in El Salvador, Costa Rica. I also want to bring back the influence of capitalism and neoliberalism and it’s relationship to the sex industry that I focused on last week. The mainstreaming of selling sex is innately tied to the capitalist ability of larger institutional profit from sex work. This post is going to be looking at some of the positive outcomes of regulating the commodification of sex, but I want readers to keep in mind the possibilities for the deepening of socio-economic divides and further marginalization of people who sell sex that have little socio-economic capital.

A good place to start is with the idea that selling sex can be a lucratively attractive industry for low-income folks. Prostitution in the non-westernized contexts is often characterized as purely a mode of survival, and not as an opportunity for advancement. It’s also looked at as a direct result of colonial power structures and domination, and in the context of a tourist-local relationship. This common international view of selling sex negates the autonomy and economic empowerment possible in some contexts. Selling sex requires no physical capital to begin, and although it’s highly stigmatized in most areas of the world, it generates a higher money to labor ratio than many other forms of work available to socio-economically disadvantaged communities (Rivers-Moore). I want to reiterate that empowerment is not the outcome for a large percentage of prostituted people; the article that I’m drawing a lot of this information from looks at the idealized model of exclusively female sex work in Costa Rica, and doesn’t address the hierarchal power dynamics that often come into play between sex workers and pimps/other third party influences once someone is engaged in selling sex.

An article by The Guardian questions Amnesty International’s definition of ‘sex work’ as a consensual choice, and their claim that conditions of past abuse, exploitation and coercion by economic forces don’t necessarily “render individuals from exercising personal agency” (Amnesty International). While I think that The Guardian’s working definition of ‘sex work’ is a conflation of all forms of selling sex, including trafficked and exploited prostitution, their points about compiling factors that call into question what can be defined as ‘choice’ is important when discussing the legalization and marginalization of sex work. This impact of past trauma and societal factors that are often heavily influential on the decision to sell sex is also an important influence on defining sex work v. sexual exploitation. Another key piece to keep in mind when thinking about mainstreaming is the relationship between the demand for commodified sex driving the demand for sex trafficking (The Guardian).

Although it’s not the only factor, mainstreamed sex work in Latin America is closely tied to the demand from tourism. A common model of approaching sex work in Latin America is to neither criminalize nor regulate it, which again provides space for both agency and marginalization/abuse. In the case of El Salvador, the national government doesn’t prohibit or punish sex work, but the local municipalities do. Much of the legislation around prostitution is focused on criminalizing the exploitation of minors, and leaves the regulation of adult sex workers up to the municipalities (Código Penal- Parte 8). A non-governmental organization of almost 3,000 El Salvadorian sex workers called the Women’s Movement Orchids of the Sea (Movimiento de Mujeres Orquídeas del Mar) makes these laws one of their targets to ensure the rights and protections of sex workers (Latin-American Press).

“It is curious that the ordinances [secondary laws] recognize us, but they recognize us only to discriminate against us and to take money from us,”        – Haydeé Laínez, a member of the coalition comments about the prevalence of police forces to blackmail and force sex workers to perform sexual acts rather than fines or arrests.

The recognition of sex work as a legitimate industry is impeded even within spheres that I would have typically thought would be in support of the self-empowerment that it could bring. Feminists who believe that selling sex is the ultimate form of compliance to patriarchy, or progressives who claim that ‘real men’ don’t buy sex (Latin-American Press) are opposing mainstreaming for the wrong reasons, in my mind. I think any opposition should be focused on the potential of bureaucratizing and policing the body, failing to address the important role of trafficking within the sex industry, or furthering divides between sex workers. The informal organization of sex workers in El Salvador is what I see to be the most potentially inclusive and powerful movement to mainstreaming sex work within the context of vilification by a government and unsupportive feminist and progressive groups.

 

 

Citations

Amnesty International. Circular No. 18. 2015 ICM Circular: Draft Policy on Sex Work. N.p., 7 July 2015. Web.

Andréu, Tomás. “Sex Workers Seek to Dignify Their Profession.” Latinamerican Press. Latinamerican Press, 21 Aug. 2015. Web.

Neuwirth, Jessica. “Amnesty International Says Prostitution Is a Human Right – but It’s Wrong.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 28 July 2015. Web

Rivers-Moore, Megan. “But the Kids Are Okay: Motherhood, Consumption and Sex Work in Neo-liberal Latin Americab.” The British Journal of Sociology 61.4 (2010): n. pag. Print.

Código Penal- Parte 8, Prostitution.procon.org § CAPITULO IV. DEL PROXENETISMO (2009). Print.