Take Sierra Club’s Agriculture Policy off the Menu


It’s no secret that the Sierra Club has long-since moved from worshipping the conservationist vision of the organization’s founder, John Muir, to bowing before the altar of green druids. Reading the Sierra Club Agriculture and Food Policy Task Force’s recommendations for updating the group’s agriculture policy only reinforces this fact.

The new agenda looks more PETA-lite than conservation-minded. According to the Task Force, “minimizing the production and consumption of domestic animals” is necessary to stop global warming. The claim is questionable: An oft-cited U.N. report claiming animal agriculture produced more greenhouse gases than transportation conflicts with U.S. government statistics. (It seems that U.S. farmers are much more efficient than their Third World counterparts. Who would’ve thought?)

The Task Force may have called for winding down of meat and cheese production and consumption, but what of the group’s patron saint? According to an article on Sierra Club’s website entitled “John Muir’s Menu,” Muir did not shy away from eating meat. Quite the contrary: On an expedition to Mt. Whitney, Muir and his companions brought “a block of beef about four inches in diameter,” he enjoyed eating “veritable feast[s] of clam chowder, fired porpoise, bacon and beans, [and] savory meat,” and grew up enjoying “mutton for lunch.”

Sierra Club’s Task Force goes on to “call for a ban on the planting of all transgenic crops (whether or not currently approved by the FDA).” In other words, Sierra Club is advocating for a ban of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This despite the fact that these genetically improved foods can allow farmers to drastically decrease their use of pesticides and help stave off the starvation and malnutrition that so often plague the developing world.

Take for example the case of Golden Rice. Golden Rice, developed by the nonprofit International Rice Research Institute, is a type of rice being grown in the Philippines and endowed with genes from corn and a bacterium that allow it to produce vitamin A.

Well, in the Philippines, like many other areas of the world, a lack of vitamin A causes blindness in up to a half-million children each year. By genetically improving rice, a product eaten daily by half the world’s population, the welfare of countless people will be increased.

If malnourishing millions isn’t bad enough, prohibiting GMOs might actually raise carbon emissions. A recent survey by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) found that in 2011, GMO cultivation reduced greenhouse emissions by the equivalent of 23 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide.

It’s clear that Sierra Club’s Agriculture and Food Policy Task Force is little more than one more example of the organization embracing an ever-more radical agenda.

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