As the drought in California — home to much of the nation’s food production — worsens, desperation is rampant as politicians, policymakers and others scramble for ways to mitigate the worsening crisis.
One of the most recent ideas is also one of the most foolish because it is based on a series of misconceptions and outright falsehoods that have been perpetuated in large part by the mainstream media.
As reported by The Daily Caller, economists who are allegedly “environmentally savvy” are suggesting that growers of organic foods in the state be taxed, as if that will solve the water crisis.
According to this line of thinking, organic farms are not as efficient with their use of water as “conventional” (as in, GMO-producing) farms, say economists with the Property and Environment Research Center and the Hoover Institution. These economists say that pricing that “inefficiency” into organic products will lead consumers will use less of them.
In other words, they propose punishing people who want a healthier choice of foods and products as well as the growers who provide them.
Blatant lies used to justify more taxes on better products
Writing in the National Review Online, Terry Anderson and Henry Miller assert that “water-policy analysts agree that California’s thirst for water won’t be significantly reduced until consumers are faced with a more realistic prices for ‘clear gold.'”
So, “in that spirit,” they continued, “we propose a revenue-neutral tax on all organic products – food, linen, pillows, tobacco, etc.”
How is “taxing organic products” going to “help conserve water?,” they wrote. “The answer is that organic agriculture uses more of critical input – labor, land, and water – than conventional agriculture. Taxation would reduce the demand for water-wasting organic products relative to non-organic alternatives, and thereby reduce some of the pressure on California’s dwindling water supplies.”
For his part, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to impose mandatory water use limits on both consumers and farmers, but the two economists believe taxing organic agriculture is a better solution.
“Organic agriculture is particularly insidious because it bans the cultivation of crop varieties crafted with molecular genetic-modification techniques, which are particularly relevant during droughts,” they wrote. “Not only do genetically engineered crops offer higher yields with less use of insecticides, but they can be crafted to withstand droughts, and to be irrigable with lower-quality (such as brackish) water.”
“Pest- and disease-resistant genetically engineered crop varieties also indirectly improve water use. Because much of the loss to insects and diseases occurs after the plants are fully grown – that is, after most of the water required to grow a crop has already been applied – this means more agricultural output per unit of water invested,” the economists contend.
“We aren’t holding our breath waiting for Governor Moonbeam and his followers, clad in tie-dyed, organic-cotton t-shirts, to adopt our proposal, even if it might result in more efficient agricultural production and water conservation,” the economist concluded. “But until California devises constructive incentives for water conservation, the vagaries of Mother Nature will continue to create water shortages.”
The denigration and insults toward organic consumers and producers are a nice touch, don’t you think? How about that overt politicization that renders finding solutions to major problems and issues in our country today virtually impossible?
The GMO equivalent of Obamacare
How about better solution, like conserving scarce, precious water resources by assigning a value to what it is utilized to produce? How about not showing preferences for GMO crops that are used to produce megatons of junk food – the kind of foods that have caused a national obesity epidemic and all of the health problems associated with it?
Let’s face it: penalizing organic while subsidizing GMO agriculture is not the solution to California’s drought. Don’t take my word for it; let the science be your guide.
When these two “economists” (what serious economist really thinks more taxation is the answer to any problem in an economy that is barely breathing?) say that “conventional” agriculture produces higher yields with less water and pesticides, that is patently false, as noted in a recent study by the Institute for Responsible Technology[PDF] and byEnvironmental Sciences Europe. What they are suggesting is the GMO version of Obamacare; they advocate forcing people to buy a product they otherwise wouldn’t.
Maybe a better idea is to crack down on the use of water to grow a drug — marijuana — that is considered illegal by the federal government and does not feed anyone?
Just a suggestion.