Michael Pollan on What’s Wrong with Environmentalism

Kate Davidson interviews Pollan In AlterNet:

Well, it's pretty simple. There are three things we need to do. One is fairly easy and the other two get harder. One is back off on this commitment to ethanol, reduce the subsidies we're giving– it's about 51 cents a gallon now– and cut out the tariffs on importing ethanol from Brazil. They can produce it more efficiently, and basically we're protecting our market by keeping that ethanol out.

The next thing we have to do is a little more complicated. The other reason for this increase in food prices, and it's related, is the high price of oil. If the food economy is as dependent on oil as I'm suggesting, we need to get the food economy off of fossil fuel and back onto the sun. We have to in effect “re-solarize” our food chain by getting animals off of feedlots, where they are eating grain and competing with people for grain.

We need to develop organic agriculture, which helps sequester carbon and reduces the need for fossil fuel in the form of synthetic fertilizers. We need to move towards a more sustainable, more solar-based agriculture. That will take a lot of price pressure off, because so much of the underlying, expensive input in agriculture is oil. So you have a situation today where SUVs in America are competing with eaters around the rest of the world for good food and arable land. You can imagine who's going to win.