Two points particularly struck me in "Farmers' Fears Take Root" (Aug. 8), citing the fears of
fruit and vegetable growers here in California and throughout
the U.S. facing competition from their counterparts in China.
First, your article noted that costs for land,
labor, energy, water, and fertilizer are much less in China than
in the U.S. Second, you reported that "U.S. produce...is grown
under stricter health and safety standards than those found in
most of China."
Now, it has been quite some time since I
graduated from the College of Agricultural and Environmental
Sciences at UC Davis, but am I to conclude from these reports
that Chinese farmers are continuing their traditional practice
of fertilizing their fields with "night earth" [a.k.a. "night soil"]
-- collected free from ubiquitous roadside
If I am wrong, I hope someone will correct me.
But if I am right, I hope someone will please assure us that our
food supply is, and will continue to be, safe and wholesome.
Although I am an organic gardener (with a sincere respect for
the industrious Chinese people and their rich, ancient culture),
I think I would rather take my chances with home-grown crops,
even if they were genetically engineered (assuming they were
Note: An ecologist colleague confirmed to me
that the traditional practice of fertilizing fields with night
soil continues throughout much of the world -- artificial
nitrogen fertilizers are typically too expensive (their
synthesis requiring the input of much energy).