News & Media :: Daily Log
In the News
Jun 25, 2010
Comments by Chuck Benbrook, TOC Chief Scientist.
In the fall of 1989, the NAS/NRC Board on Agriculture (BA) released the Alternative Agriculture report.
It had considerable and immediate impact. I know, because I was there, during my 1984-1990 tour of duty as the Executive Director of the NAS/NRC Board on Agriculture.
At the time, the BA was one of eight major operating units of the NAS/NRC. Now, the BA is a subunit of another major committee.
The Alternative Agriculture report was covered extensively and positively by all major newspaper wire servies, the three national TV news networks, and nearly all papers in the country.
Since the founding of the NAS/NRC in 1863 by President Lincoln, the report was just the second to be covered in an above-the-fold, page-one story in the New York Times.
On the day of the report's release, the Committee spokespeople began the day at the NAS/NRC building with a heavily attended press conference and nearly two-dozen cameras, followed by a rushed trip to Capitol Hill for a House hearing, followed soon thereafter by a Senate hearing.
The report helped build confidence that there were indeed alternatives to the high-input, energy-intensive, resource-degrading farm production systems which were, at the time, commonplace in most major farming regions.
I look forward to the findings and conclusions of this 20-year retrospective of the 1989 report. For an indepth assessment of the Alternative Agriculture report's historical significance, see the analysis published by the Organic Farming Research Foundation in its Fall 2008 (Number 16) newsletter.