A Necessary Evil?



Many would argue that such chemical fertilisers are necessary if we are to feed a growing, frequently starving population. However, as one farmer in the region of Uttar Pradesh, India, reported in 1990:

Earlier … no one knew about [chemical] fertilizer and people used to apply desi fertilizer (i.e. manure). Now, they mostly use market fertilizer: it makes the soil weak and deficient… so the soil is getting weaker…and the taste is diminishing in this way.

(Gupta, 1998)14

Food losing its flavour, the very make-up of the soil is being destroyed, and farmers are required to buy in fertilizers and thus find themselves exposed to the vagaries of the market. This is a sorry indictment of the impact of chemical fertilizers on the lives of producers and consumers, and on the land itself. And yet governments and other international agencies, either frightened of, or in cahoots with, the powerful agrochemical lobby, turn a blind eye to the consequences of their actions.